Types of Portraits

Types of Portraits

Year 9 Photography
look at me

What is a photo portrait?

A photo portrait is usually a picture of a person or group of people. A portrait may be used to record the likeness of someone or can also be used to communicate the personality of someone or to convey an idea.

Think of all the times you have had your photo taken. Sometimes these photos are posed - meaning you know you are getting your photo taken and will act differently or they are candid - meaning that you didn't know your photo was being taken so you are acting 'naturally'. Which photos of yourself do you like better?

We get a lot of formal photos of ourselves taken as well - where we have to stand or sit in very specific poses. These could be at weddings, school photo day, for a driver's licence or even a mug shot (although I hope not!).

Different types of portraits

Photo portraits can fall into one of these four categories:

Candid Portrait Photography

Candid portraiture is when the subject is unaware or comfortable with the presence of the photographer.

Candid portraits are not directed by the photographer but capture spontaneous moments of the subject.


Posed Portrait Photography

A posed portrait is when the subject is fully aware of the photographer and specific posture or body placement is made by the subject and/or the photographer.

These photos are not as spontaneous as candid photos but thought has gone into the composition of the photo.


Formal Portrait Photography

This is a posed portrait taken for a specific purpose such as a business photo or a identity card photo.

The composition is usually done in a very specific way.


Environmental Portrait Photography

This type of portrait focuses on the relationship between the subject and where they are.

This relationship with the environment is more important than the facial expression of the subject.


Worksheets / Resources

Y9 Photography - types of portraits.docx670.9KB
Types of Portraits.pptx12000.8KB