CLASSIC OUTDOOR COLOR PORTRAITS
A Guide for Photographers
CONCEPTS OF PORTRAITURE
Defining the Portrait
A portrait is a visual record of the whole or partial aspects of a person or persons as seen by another person. The portrait portrays a likeness from life in addition to rendering various moods such as glorifying, satirizing, and romanticizing. Regardless of the representation, if the person is identified or suggested, the image qualifies as a portrait.
The person making the classic outdoor color photographic portrait is you, the portraitist. The person being portrayed is the subject.
For this handbook I choose to portray the subject in a classic form suggesting accepted standards. For brevity, I refer to the classic outdoor color photographic portrait in a single term: the portrait.
To encourage you to develop skills that will enable you to become an extraordinary portraitist I have devised a series of "Building Blocks." Included in each building block are various concepts to bring forth from your "subconscious eye" a growing "conscious eye," to recognize and enjoy your response to things seen, and to encourage your limitless pursuit of portraiture.
A working approach using the building blocks is to visualize the portrait format, whether a square, rectangle, circle, or oval as a flat surface with the imagined concept of layers of various building blocks placed so the two-dimensional surface builds to an illusionary three dimensions, Figure 1-1.
The Concepts of Portraiture is communication in a particular time and space enriched by the era, nation, or culture. In doing so the portrait conveys actual and emotional dimensions in transcribing a three-dimensional subject into a two-dimensional form. All portraiture is worth studying because the past communicates what and how portraits have been made; the present helps us discover what and how portraits are made today.
The portrait is enhanced by understanding of Your Enrichment building blocks of seeing, intellect, perception, intuition, observation, imagination, anticipation, and expression. The result is a more refined portrait as if viewing the portrait not only from the front flat surface but from all perspectives. I present exercises later in the handbook to develop the application of these enriching building blocks.
The Creative Process clarifies how imaginative thoughts and skills evolve into a portrait. Again, exercises are presented later in the handbook.
The next two foundation building blocks of Lines of Design and Composition further support the portrait by your envisioning the portrait construction.
With the support foundation properly laid the actual work on the portrait begins with Your Participation when you engineer the lighting, foreground, and background. At the same time the middle ground is considered when the subject participates with you by posing and selecting clothes.
As all efforts are assembled the building blocks are placed under a canopy of Harmonious Integrity which is your style of portraiture. Lastly, every building block is critiqued by Judging.
As all these building blocks are formed and bound together the format evolves from two dimensions to an illusionary three dimensions as shown in Figure 1-2.
A classic portrait is not made by accident but by the careful study and visualization of all the involved building blocks. The poverty of visualizing is not characteristic of fine portraiture. In this search for fine relationships among all the building blocks opportunities for choices exist. The better the choices, the better the portrait.
The presentation of these building blocks is like a workshop in your home and, hopefully, the study is an ongoing experience rather than a one-time event. I endeavor to supply you with enough information in addition to exciting inspiration so the mastering of this handbook is not the end of your making portraits but the beginning with your advancing the information and inspiration to a higher level of expressive communication.