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Types of portraits

Whether you aim to capture a person's essence or just take a snapshot, there's a type of portrait photography for you...


Types of portrait photography

1. Traditional portraits

A traditional portrait is a posed shot of a person or group of people.

The subject(s) will usually look directly at the camera with a formal (or semi-formal) expression. Traditional portraits are often taken in studios, with professional lighting and background setups.

Traditional portraits are great for capturing a person's physical appearance, and they can be very formal shots. If you're looking to take a traditional portrait, be sure to have your subject(s) dress in their best clothes and prepare for some posing.

Traditional portraits are often used for things like family photos, graduation pictures, or headshots.

2. Candid portraits

A candid portrait is a shot of a person (or group of people) that is taken without them knowing it.

Candid portraits can be taken in public places, like at the park or on the street, or they can be more personal shots in someone's home. Candid portraits are great for capturing a person's natural expression and personality.

If you want to take a candid portrait, be sure to be stealthy! You don't want your subject to catch you taking their picture, or the shot will lose its candor.

A great way to incorporate a candid image is to photograph your subject during a photo session when they aren't ready for a photo. For example, you could tell them you'll take a photo but then tell a quick joke that catches them off-guard. While they are smiling/laughing at the joke, take the photo.

Candid portraits are often used for things like street photography, event photography, or family photos.

3. Environmental portraits

An environmental portrait is a shot of a person (or group of people) that includes their surroundings. Environmental portraits can be taken inside or outside, and the location should help to tell the story of the subject(s).

Environmental portraits are great for showing a person in their natural element and giving context to their story. If you're looking to take an environmental portrait, be sure to choose a location that is significant to your subject.

Environmental portraits are often used for things like profile pictures, business headshots, or family photos.

4. Posed portraits

A posed portrait is a shot of a person (or group of people) that is taken after they have been given some direction on how to pose.

Posed portraits can be taken in studios or on location, and the subject(s) will usually be looking directly at the camera.

Posed portraits are great for capturing a person's physical appearance and getting them to strike a specific pose. If you want to take a posed portrait, be sure to give your subject some direction on how to pose.

Posed portraits are often used for things like family photos, graduation pictures, or headshots.

5. Headshots

A headshot photo is a specific type of portrait that is taken from the shoulders up. Headshots are usually taken in studios, with professional lighting and background setups.

Headshots are great for capturing a person's physical appearance and facial expressions.

If you want to take a headshot, be sure to have your subject dress in their best clothes and prepare for some posing. Headshots are often used for things like business headshots, actor headshots, or model portfolios.

6. Full-body portraits

A full-body portrait is a shot of a person (or group of people) that includes their entire body.

Full-body portraits can be taken in studios or on location, and the subject(s) will usually be posed somehow. Full-body portraits are great for capturing a person's physical appearance and clothing.

If you're looking to take a full-body portrait, be sure to have a good lens and have your subject prepare for some posing.

Full-body portraits are often used for things like family photos, graduation pictures, or lifestyle photos.

7. Street portraits

A street portrait is a shot of a person (or group of people) taken without their permission in a public place.

Street portraits can be candid or posed, and they are often taken with a long lens to avoid being caught. Street portraits are great for capturing a person's natural expression and personality. If you're looking to take a street portrait, be sure to be stealthy and avoid being caught.

Street portraits also often fall under the genre of street photography.

8. Fine art portrait

A fine art portrait is a shot of a person (or group of people) taken in a studio or on location with the intention of being exhibited as a piece of art.

Fine art portraits can be candid or posed, and they are often taken with a specific aesthetic in mind. Fine art portraits also fall under the genre of fine art photography.

Fine art portraits are great for capturing a person's physical appearance and personality and adding an artistic feel to the image that would mimic the aesthetic of a painting. If you want to take a fine art portrait, be sure to have your subject dress in their best clothes and prepare for some posing.

Models, actors, or anyone who wants a high-quality, artistic portrait for their portfolio often ask for fine art portraits (although anyone can get one if they choose to).

9. Boudoir portrait

A boudoir portrait is a shot of a person (usually a woman) that is taken in a private space with the intention of being intimate and sensual.

Boudoir portraits can be candid or posed, and they are often taken with the subject's clothing partially removed. Boudoir portraits also fall under the genre of boudoir photography.

Boudoir portraits are great for capturing a person's physical appearance and sensuality. If you're looking to take a boudoir portrait, be sure to have your subject dress in their best clothes (or lack thereof) and prepare for some posing.

Boudoir portraits are often used as gifts for spouses or significant others, or they can be exhibited as fine art portraits.

10. Pet portraits

A pet portrait is a portrait of an animal (usually a dog or cat) that is taken in a studio or on location. Pet portraits can be candid or posed, and they are often taken with the owner's permission.

Pet portraits are great for capturing an animal's physical appearance and personality. If you want to take a pet portrait, be sure to have your subject (the animal) prepared and willing to cooperate.

Pet portraits are often used as gifts for animal lovers or as fine art portraits.

11. Lifestyle portrait

A lifestyle portrait is a shot of a person (or group of people) that is taken in their natural environment. Lifestyle portraits can be candid or posed, focusing on capturing a person's everyday life.

Lifestyle portraits are great for capturing a person's personality and way of life. They also fall under the genre of lifestyle photography.

For example, if you're a doctor, a lifestyle portrait of you in your scrubs at the hospital would be great for your website or marketing materials. If you're a stay-at-home mom, a lifestyle portrait of you at home with your kids would be great for your family's holiday cards.

If you're looking to take a lifestyle portrait, be sure to have your subject(s) in their natural environment and prepared for some posing. Lifestyle portraits are often used for things like family photos, graduation pictures, or street portraits.

12. Glamour portrait

A glamour portrait is a shot of a person (usually a woman) taken in a studio or on location with the intention of being glamorous and sexy.

Glamour portraits can be candid or posed, and they are often taken with the subject's clothing partially removed.

Glamour portraits are great for capturing a person's appearance. If you're looking to take a glamor portrait, be sure to have your subject dress in their best clothes (or lack thereof) and prepare for some posing.

13. Group or family portrait

A group or family portrait is a shot of a group of people (usually family members) that is taken in a studio or on location.

Group portraits can be candid or posed, and they are often taken with the intention of everyone looking their best. If you're looking to take a group portrait, be sure to have your subjects in their best clothes and prepared for some posing.

Group portraits are often used as gifts for family members or as fine art portraits.

Some tips when it comes to taking group portraits includes:

  • Use a wide-angle lens
  • Use a tripod
  • Use a higher f-stop so you can capture the whole group in focus
  • Be aware of group member's heights and position in a balanced way

14. Wedding portrait

A wedding portrait is an image of the bride and groom that is taken on the day of their wedding. Wedding portraits can be candid or posed, and they are often taken with the intention of the couple looking their best.

Wedding portraits are great for capturing a bride and groom's physical appearance and their love for each other. If you're looking to take a wedding portrait, be sure to have the couple in their best clothes and prepared for some posing.

Wedding portraits are often used as gifts for the couple's family or for personal use.

15. Engagement portrait

An engagement portrait is a shot of the bride and groom that is taken after they have become engaged but before their wedding day. Engagement portraits can be candid or posed, and they are often taken with the intention of the couple looking their best.

Engagement portraits are great for capturing a bride and groom's physical appearance and their love for each other.

If you're looking to take an engagement portrait, be sure to have the couple in their best clothes and prepared for some posing. Engagement portraits are often used for personal use and to share with friends and family.

16. Surreal portrait

A surreal portrait is a shot of a person (or group of people) that is taken in a studio or on location with the intention of being surreal and otherworldly.

Surreal portraits can be candid or posed, and they are often taken with the use of props and special effects. Surreal portraits are great for capturing a person's (or group's) imagination and creativity. For example, if you want to create a surreal portrait of a group of people, you could dress them all in white and pose them in a field of tall grass.

Or, if you want to take a surreal portrait of an individual, you could have them dress in all black and stand in front of a bright, colorful background.

17. Self-portraits

Self-portrait photography is a type of portrait photography where you take a photo of yourself.

Self portraits are a great way to capture and document your personality, style, and creative ideas. It can be a fun and empowering way to express yourself, and it can also help you improve your photography skills.

The most popular type of self-portrait is a selfie which is a portrait of yourself taken by yourself. It’s pretty simple: hold out your phone, stretch your arm a little bit, find your good angle – and snap!

Since most selfies are taken for social media purposes, they’re typically uploaded to sites like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. The word “selfie” itself originated on the Internet.

Most people like taking at least one or two selfies on special occasions, including the older generation.


In conclusion, there are many types of portrait photography. When deciding which type to take, consider the subject(s), the setting, and the overall mood or tone you want to capture. With a little bit of planning, you can take portraits that are truly unique and memorable.

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