Professional portrait photography has seen many different uses throughout the years. From the quintessential family photo to a creatively shot album cover, this lucrative photography type has seen a jump in popularity. In this guide to the different portrait photography types, we will go over how each genre of portrait photography differs from one another as well as the best applications per type. Learn more about the kinds of portrait photography available out in the market by reading on below!
The Traditional Portrait Shot
For many people, the traditional portrait shot is a staple of their schooling and even job-seeking experience. This type of portrait photography is typically experienced at least once or twice during schooling– usually when taking yearbook and graduation photos. Though many have the misconception that the traditional portrait shot is an unexciting or unflattering portrait photography genre, the traditional portrait shot actually results in some of the classiest and most flattering formal photos when executed by an experienced photography team.
Usually taken at bust level, this kind of portrait photography features a formal backdrop such as a solid-colored fabric background or wall. Posing and styling in this type of portrait photography is usually less adventurous, going for more conservative angles and poses that focus on the subject’s face.
This Type of Portrait Photography is Best For: Yearbook and commemorative photos that focus on capturing the subject’s face. Rules on clothing and posing may vary on the occasion (such as in yearbook creative shots), but generally do not stray from capturing the subject shoulders up. Some models also ask for traditional portrait shots to be featured in their look books for easy reference.
The Formal Portrait Shot
A subcategory of the traditional portrait photography genre is the Formal Portrait Shot, which requires the subject to don a more formal outfit. Corporate, smart casual, or black tie are a few common examples of clothing that subjects wear to this type of shoot. The Formal Portrait Shot can feature both individual and group subjects–what matters more is the formality evoked by the captured photo.
This genre of portrait photography can be carefully choreographed to tell a story such as when it is used for marketing or advertorial purposes. However, it can also be taken with a simpler pose that focuses on showing the subject or subjects looking their best. Whether it is used for marketing assets or to commemorate a special event or achievement, a Formal Portrait Shot is all about elevating the subject to look their best.
This Type of Portrait Photography is Best For: Company websites that showcase the company culture and employee base. The Formal Portrait Shot can also be used to commemorate the achievement of a student or employee, such as a work anniversary, work excellence, or commencement exercises.
The Lifestyle Portrait Shot
Often described as the opposite of the Traditional Portrait Shot, the Lifestyle Portrait Shot is all about featuring the subject in their natural habitat. Capturing a photo lifted from their everyday life gives a sense of genuine connection between the viewer and the subject, showcasing rawness and authenticity that is framed in a creative manner. While this portrait photography type may require multiple shoot sessions to completely capture the subject or subjects in their most natural state, the results are often unforgettable, sentimental, and moving.
Photographers that endeavor to take on this genre of portrait photography should be ready to play multiple parts, such as photographer, director, and even stylist depending on the situation. However, most photographers capturing these moments are content to shoot candidly. By letting their subject’s emotions and actions play out, the resulting images often feel more real and natural.
This Type of Portrait Photography is Best For: Creative documentation or commemoration for a special occasion such as a prenup, social or family gathering, a concert, and many more. Lifestyle photography can also be applied to marketing assets, but this may require some coordination between the subject and the brand.
The Environmental Portrait Shot
If a Lifestyle Portrait Shot is focused on the subject, then the Environmental Portrait Shot is focused on the setting. An Environmental Portrait Shot is a genre of portrait photography that is all about capturing the surroundings of a subject and how it connects to their story. From their personality to their occupation, and even to the kind of life they lead—the environmental portrait shot is all about the ‘Where’.
These locations often hold deep meaning to the subject or subjects they are featured with and combine the natural candidness of lifestyle portrait photography and the optimized lighting and conditions of traditional portrait photography.
This Type of Portrait Photography is Best For: Editorials, news stories, or even creative outputs. Environmental Portrait Shots are often deeply personal because of the story they tell, so their use is usually of meaningful and well thought out intent.
The Glamour Portrait Shot
Get ready to smize – the Glamour Portrait Shot is all about capturing the glitz and glamour of the subject. In this portrait photography type, the beauty of the subject takes center stage and is often featured with a carefully curated selection of outfits and makeup styling. While some subjects are depicted in a sensual or dramatic light, there are those who use Glamour Portrait Shots as an opportunity to showcase their modeling ability in both basic and high fashion.
Glamour Portrait Photography is also known as Beauty Photography because of its focus on bringing out the best in the subject’s facial features and can be shot in a variety of settings. Whether taken in an indoor studio or an exciting outdoor location, all these details only serve to highlight the subject all the more.
This Type of Product Photography is Best For: Modeling portraits as well as fashion and beauty product advertorials. Glamour portrait photography is an excellent vehicle for showcasing how these products enhance a subject’s natural beauty. This portrait photography genre is also a fun activity for the average person looking for a fresh boost of confidence, so they can see themselves in a new light!
While these five types of portrait photography are just the tip of the iceberg, they are great examples of how diverse and creative portrait photography can really be. Whether you have narrowed down a specific genre of portrait photography that you are interest in from this list or you simply want some guidance as you explore your options, feel free to get in touch with our team of experts over at Stellar Studios to discuss your shoot and all its possibilities!