Portrait Photography

Portrait Photography


Portrait photography is very popular as we like looking at pictures of people and it is a chance to study the details of someone’s face, their character and personal history that can be seen. We do not often have the opportunity to look at people closely, but it only takes a few seconds to take a photograph.

Famous portrait photographers are skillful at capturing those revealing, unguarded moments that suddenly bring people to life, and combine this with an artist’s sense of form, texture and light.

The art of portrait photography involves capturing faces and particularly the different forms of human expressions. The objective or aim of a portrait photographer is to show or present the personality, likeness or particular mood of the subject being photographed. 

Portrait photography is still one of the important genres of photography. There are many artists who have become well known in this field of photography, like Carl Van Vechten, Edward S. Curtis and Edgar Degas, who were some of the famous self-portrait photographers. 

Yousuf Karsh, although he was born in Turkey in 1908, went to live in Canada. He was a famous portrait photographer during the 20th century, who has taken portraits of many important people from the worlds of art, science, politics and entertainment, like Einstein to George Bernard Shaw to Nelson Mandela, but he is probably most famous for his picture of Winston Churchill, taken in 1941. It has become one of the most famous and iconic portraits ever made and was on the cover of LIFE magazine when WWII ended. 


Churchill had just given a speech to the Canadian government, who had asked Karsh to take this photograph. Karsh asked Churchill to remove his cigar for the picture, but he wouldn’t. So he carefully took it from his mouth and put it to one side. The expression on Churchill’s face, combined with his already obstinate mood, produced a photograph that has become perhaps the most famous symbol of Churchill’s fierce defiance.

This image is a good example of showing how a photographer manages to capture the true emotions and feelings of their subjects, which is a quality and characteristic of a good portrait photographer.






Langford M; Fox A; & Sawdon Smith R., 2010, Langford’s Basic Photography, 9th ed., Focal Press.

Wells L., 2009, Photography A Critical Introduction, 4th ed., Oxon, Routledge.

Jeffrey I, (2005), The Photography Book, 2nd ed. Phaidon Press Limited, London.





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