Capturing character in portraits

Capturing character is all about portraying subjects as they are – a genuine representation of the person or people. Far removed from the super smooth, heavily processed, angelic faces we see on magazine covers, character portraiture presents subjects in real-life appearance with all their attributes, expressions, nuances and details. Such as the picture below which is a study of characters in contrast: the lines, creases and wrinkles of old age, and the soft, smooth features of youth.


In his article Character Portrait Photography Tips And Techniques, long-time photography instructor Wayne Turner offers some pointers:

1. Treat the subject with dignity
2. Capture the face
3. Planning
4. Add some environment
5. Relax your subject
6. Focus on the hands
7. Black and white
8. Available light

Go over the article of Turner and read his brief explanation on each of the tips. It will just take you a couple of minutes. And may I add, when capturing the face make sure as much as possible to have the eyes clear and in focus. Eyes are expressive and truly are the windows of the soul. You may have noticed in reportorial images of persons whose identity are hidden, that their eyes are blocked off, covered or superimposed with a black rectangle. Eyes reveal much, both the identity and the character. The bottom line, people photography is about capturing personality, emotion and mood. The subject may not be all sunny and smiles, and may not be the most beautiful and photogenic face in the world, but it is incumbent upon the photographer to capture subjects in the most actual, factual and categorical manner. Turner aptly puts it this way: “Character photography is all about capturing the essence of your subject and conveying who they are and what they do.”


6 responses

  1. nice portraiture, Jun, and thanks for the valuable information.

    March 6, 2013 at 11:20 am

    • Junsjazz

      You’re most welcome Virgilio! many thanks!

      March 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm

  2. I would much rather go for character than air-brushing.

    March 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    • Junsjazz

      Thanks Jane!

      March 6, 2013 at 11:49 pm

  3. petit4chocolatier

    Beautiful work 🙂

    March 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    • Junsjazz

      Thanks Judy!

      March 6, 2013 at 11:49 pm

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