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Thread: What is a good portrait?

  1. #1
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    Default What is a good portrait?

    Just hoping for an answer.

    My answer, a picture of a person with his/her personality or story in the frame. I might be wrong because the portraits i saw here in CS are different.

  2. #2
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    its not wrong either way...
    a portrait is like what u mentioned too, but yet, imho, it also includes the posing of a model and whether u can see/feel the interaction between the photog and the model. Also is the beauty of e person bought out in the picture too.

    both to me are portraits taking...


    congrats on ur 1k post... (soon)

  3. #3

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    IMHO
    THIS ONE


    Why? cos I took it lor
    Why? cos his is my son lor

    just kidding

    I guess beauty is in the eyes of the beholder - very subjective

  4. #4

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    I think a good portrait is one that tells me everything about a person's personality even though I've not actually met the person. Lights, angle, expression, form, detail; everything is there for a purpose that delves beyond aesthetics.

    Then there's also the aesthetically pleasing category, usually featuring pretty models. Well loved by all except art houses.
    My Personal Folio (of random events and things)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jopel
    IMHO
    THIS ONE


    Why? cos I took it lor
    Why? cos his is my son lor

    just kidding

    I guess beauty is in the eyes of the beholder - very subjective
    nice

  6. #6

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    Nice shot on the boy!

    I think a good portrait shot is not just about fancy clothes and beautiful women. A good one would tell a story so strong that you could feel it as though it is something tangible and real.

  7. #7

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    Like many sheep, I used to think that a good portrait is one that "Captures the essence of a person, that tells me everything about a person's personality".

    I am by no means old and wise. But I have passed the half century mark. I have worked for more than a quarter century in a profession that often deals with the deep recesses of a person psyche. Not as much as a psychologist or psychiatrist, but close. And maybe more sometimes.

    And my conclusion? I feel totally inadequate and a failure. I wish that I can say that I "know" a person, having spent hours and days with that person. But I don't. Heck! I don't even know for sure who I am! I have certain behaviour patterns. My friends and associates think that I am sanguine! I am often the one who gives and encourages laughter. Am I sanguine? Deep inside me, I am a melancholic. A schizophrenic? May be!

    If I don't know myself or the person whom I spent hours and days trying to understand the "person", how can it be possible that I can "capture" the "total personality and essence" of a person?

    I don't know where this comes from. But I believe it to be a great myth, started by someone to give himself a sense of "power" that he could "capture" (How horrible a word - load, aim, shoot, capture - words like using a weapon!) the "person". And this myth perpetuated by the hordes of unthinking sheep, or whom I am one.

    But increasing, I think photography is telling a story. Hence, the often asked question at print critiques "WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?" - about the landscape, the bee, the flower, the hawker, the sunset, and the person. Which brings me back to "what is a good portrait?"

    I think portrait making is "Telling a story about the person". Making a biography about the person, and in the process, revealing a little about yourself. Now that gies me a tremendous sense of relie! I am free! When I make a portrait of a person whom I meet 10 minutes ago, do I know that person? When I join a photo-shoot and meet the model the first time with 7 other photographers, is it possible that within the next hours, I can get to know the model? You can? Really? I can't? But does it deter me from making a portrait of the person?

    NO! Because I am making a story of the person as seen through my eyes and hopefully as I mature in photo-making, through my heart,or my "third eye". I am free! I don't have to know the person. I don't have to capture his essence. I don't have to capture his personality. I just make a story and biography of the person. My story.

    How about the landscape? The sunset? Do I capture the sunset? No. I make a story about the sunset. What did I feel about that sunset? Beautiful? Nice colors? or more? How deep am I? Perhaps if I am deeper, the sunset reminds me of the cosmos. The clouds the whirl of the milky way, a microcosm of the universe. The sunset becomes a template for me to make a story.

    This is how I see portraits. The person is only a template. A template for me to make a story. If the template is "good", I have more to work on. If I have something within me, something deeper, I can make more of the template. A dance. Working together. The camera, with its own reality, my instrument to make that story.

    My portrait. Is it a good portrait? I do not know. But it is my story of that person.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowspeeder
    Nice shot on the boy!

    I think a good portrait shot is not just about fancy clothes and beautiful women. A good one would tell a story so strong that you could feel it as though it is something tangible and real.
    Haha many times i see otherwise in the portrait subforum leh.......

  9. #9

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    WoW! Student I am philosophised by your response. Thanks. Something for me to ponder. Usually I just point and shoot when I see a "magical moment".

  10. #10

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    I think in photography, there is always the commercial and the artistic side of it. The more popular one would be what we have in the portrait subforum.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by student
    Like many sheep, I used to think that a good portrait is one that "Captures the essence of a person, that tells me everything about a person's personality".

    I am by no means old and wise. But I have passed the half century mark. I have worked for more than a quarter century in a profession that often deals with the deep recesses of a person psyche. Not as much as a psychologist or psychiatrist, but close. And maybe more sometimes.

    And my conclusion? I feel totally inadequate and a failure. I wish that I can say that I "know" a person, having spent hours and days with that person. But I don't. Heck! I don't even know for sure who I am! I have certain behaviour patterns. My friends and associates think that I am sanguine! I am often the one who gives and encourages laughter. Am I sanguine? Deep inside me, I am a melancholic. A schizophrenic? May be!

    If I don't know myself or the person whom I spent hours and days trying to understand the "person", how can it be possible that I can "capture" the "total personality and essence" of a person?

    I don't know where this comes from. But I believe it to be a great myth, started by someone to give himself a sense of "power" that he could "capture" (How horrible a word - load, aim, shoot, capture - words like using a weapon!) the "person". And this myth perpetuated by the hordes of unthinking sheep, or whom I am one.

    But increasing, I think photography is telling a story. Hence, the often asked question at print critiques "WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?" - about the landscape, the bee, the flower, the hawker, the sunset, and the person. Which brings me back to "what is a good portrait?"

    I think portrait making is "Telling a story about the person". Making a biography about the person, and in the process, revealing a little about yourself. Now that gies me a tremendous sense of relie! I am free! When I make a portrait of a person whom I meet 10 minutes ago, do I know that person? When I join a photo-shoot and meet the model the first time with 7 other photographers, is it possible that within the next hours, I can get to know the model? You can? Really? I can't? But does it deter me from making a portrait of the person?

    NO! Because I am making a story of the person as seen through my eyes and hopefully as I mature in photo-making, through my heart,or my "third eye". I am free! I don't have to know the person. I don't have to capture his essence. I don't have to capture his personality. I just make a story and biography of the person. My story.

    How about the landscape? The sunset? Do I capture the sunset? No. I make a story about the sunset. What did I feel about that sunset? Beautiful? Nice colors? or more? How deep am I? Perhaps if I am deeper, the sunset reminds me of the cosmos. The clouds the whirl of the milky way, a microcosm of the universe. The sunset becomes a template for me to make a story.

    This is how I see portraits. The person is only a template. A template for me to make a story. If the template is "good", I have more to work on. If I have something within me, something deeper, I can make more of the template. A dance. Working together. The camera, with its own reality, my instrument to make that story.

    My portrait. Is it a good portrait? I do not know. But it is my story of that person.
    Absolutely well said. Took me quite a while to digest it in my mind, preoccupied more with images than words. I suppose and believe that photography is about self discovery. Perhaps a lifetime journey, one that is without a destination. And the meaning of that journey, which differs from one soul to another, rests in the 'stories' one chooses to tell. A story of his own, you say?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowspeeder
    Absolutely well said. Took me quite a while to digest it in my mind, preoccupied more with images than words. I suppose and believe that photography is about self discovery. Perhaps a lifetime journey, one that is without a destination. And the meaning of that journey, which differs from one soul to another, rests in the 'stories' one chooses to tell. A story of his own, you say?
    Same here... need to digest it

    I usually don't judge how 'good' a portrait is taken. But what it tells me about the subject AND the photographer.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jopel
    IMHO
    THIS ONE


    Why? cos I took it lor
    Why? cos his is my son lor

    just kidding

    I guess beauty is in the eyes of the beholder - very subjective
    Wow, one thing for sure, this image caught my attention. Its the innocence of the child the photographer has capture.

    it definitely my kind of portrait. Thanks for sharing

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by student
    Like many sheep, I used to think that a good portrait is one that "Captures the essence of a person, that tells me everything about a person's personality".

    I am by no means old and wise. But I have passed the half century mark. I have worked for more than a quarter century in a profession that often deals with the deep recesses of a person psyche. Not as much as a psychologist or psychiatrist, but close. And maybe more sometimes.

    And my conclusion? I feel totally inadequate and a failure. I wish that I can say that I "know" a person, having spent hours and days with that person. But I don't. Heck! I don't even know for sure who I am! I have certain behaviour patterns. My friends and associates think that I am sanguine! I am often the one who gives and encourages laughter. Am I sanguine? Deep inside me, I am a melancholic. A schizophrenic? May be!

    If I don't know myself or the person whom I spent hours and days trying to understand the "person", how can it be possible that I can "capture" the "total personality and essence" of a person?

    I don't know where this comes from. But I believe it to be a great myth, started by someone to give himself a sense of "power" that he could "capture" (How horrible a word - load, aim, shoot, capture - words like using a weapon!) the "person". And this myth perpetuated by the hordes of unthinking sheep, or whom I am one.

    But increasing, I think photography is telling a story. Hence, the often asked question at print critiques "WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?" - about the landscape, the bee, the flower, the hawker, the sunset, and the person. Which brings me back to "what is a good portrait?"

    I think portrait making is "Telling a story about the person". Making a biography about the person, and in the process, revealing a little about yourself. Now that gies me a tremendous sense of relie! I am free! When I make a portrait of a person whom I meet 10 minutes ago, do I know that person? When I join a photo-shoot and meet the model the first time with 7 other photographers, is it possible that within the next hours, I can get to know the model? You can? Really? I can't? But does it deter me from making a portrait of the person?

    NO! Because I am making a story of the person as seen through my eyes and hopefully as I mature in photo-making, through my heart,or my "third eye". I am free! I don't have to know the person. I don't have to capture his essence. I don't have to capture his personality. I just make a story and biography of the person. My story.

    How about the landscape? The sunset? Do I capture the sunset? No. I make a story about the sunset. What did I feel about that sunset? Beautiful? Nice colors? or more? How deep am I? Perhaps if I am deeper, the sunset reminds me of the cosmos. The clouds the whirl of the milky way, a microcosm of the universe. The sunset becomes a template for me to make a story.

    This is how I see portraits. The person is only a template. A template for me to make a story. If the template is "good", I have more to work on. If I have something within me, something deeper, I can make more of the template. A dance. Working together. The camera, with its own reality, my instrument to make that story.

    My portrait. Is it a good portrait? I do not know. But it is my story of that person.
    Orh......thanks for sharing. Really, thanks. The next time I shoot a portrait, I'll tell a story, not just take a picture. You just made portrait-taking more challenging for me.
    Last edited by TrailsofLife; 26th April 2005 at 03:05 PM.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max 2.8
    Wow, one thing for sure, this image caught my attention. Its the innocence of the child the photographer has capture.

    it definitely my kind of portrait. Thanks for sharing
    Just for discussion. The wonderful image of this boy.

    Did the photographer "capture" the innocence of this boy? Really? Can one "capture" innocence in a piece of paper? Is this boy really innocent? He may be, but I do not know. I have friends who have children of this age who are real "rascals", but with angelic faces.

    So what I would prefer to say is that this image portrays a look of innocence in a boy. Whether this be his "real" personality or not I do not know. And I do not care. But it is a "good portrait" because it effectively tells a story of innocence.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by student
    Just for discussion. The wonderful image of this boy.

    Did the photographer "capture" the innocence of this boy? Really? Can one "capture" innocence in a piece of paper? Is this boy really innocent? He may be, but I do not know. I have friends who have children of this age who are real "rascals", but with angelic faces.

    So what I would prefer to say is that this image portrays a look of innocence in a boy. Whether this be his "real" personality or not I do not know. And I do not care. But it is a "good portrait" because it effectively tells a story of innocence.
    I saw innocence. Not sure if that's what he is trying to capture. Not sure if the boy is innocent. But my understanding of his story is innocence.

    Tio Bo?

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by student
    Just for discussion. The wonderful image of this boy.

    Did the photographer "capture" the innocence of this boy? Really? Can one "capture" innocence in a piece of paper? Is this boy really innocent? He may be, but I do not know. I have friends who have children of this age who are real "rascals", but with angelic faces.

    So what I would prefer to say is that this image portrays a look of innocence in a boy. Whether this be his "real" personality or not I do not know. And I do not care. But it is a "good portrait" because it effectively tells a story of innocence.

    the only way to really understand student's deep complex yet fully logical and sometimes philosophical POVs is to be he himself (am i making things worse here? lol)

    but well, one fine day when student decides to display his works again u guys should really sieze the chance..... they were........brilliant to say the least.


    OT> so when Prof. C free to lim kopi with less than half a century old real life student?

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max 2.8
    I saw innocence. Not sure if that's what he is trying to capture. Not sure if the boy is innocent. But my understanding of his story is innocence.

    Tio Bo?
    Sometimes there is a dichotomy between the what the photographer want to say, and what the viewer says. I am with you here because we, as viewers, saw innocence. If this is the intent of the photographer, then he had succeeded. And the portrait is good.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by plsoong
    the only way to really understand student's deep complex yet fully logical and sometimes philosophical POVs is to be he himself (am i making things worse here? lol)

    but well, one fine day when student decides to display his works again u guys should really sieze the chance..... they were........brilliant to say the least.


    OT> so when Prof. C free to lim kopi with less than half a century old real life student?

    Love to see what you have capture the last half of the century!

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by plsoong
    the only way to really understand student's deep complex yet fully logical and sometimes philosophical POVs is to be he himself (am i making things worse here? lol)

    but well, one fine day when student decides to display his works again u guys should really sieze the chance..... they were........brilliant to say the least.


    OT> so when Prof. C free to lim kopi with less than half a century old real life student?
    PL, you elevated me to a level that I dare not dare take!

    My works are truly mediocre. But I try to make images. My friend, a well known photorapher, feels that I have a LONG way to go! Sometimes I succeed. Mostly I fail. Especially when I saw such wonderful images elsewhere.

    I dare not "display" my images, but I will gladly show some images that I had acquired over the years ( there are some advantages of having worked for a number of years ) to show what good images are. Whether they be still life, landscape, portraits etc.

    I will be "out of action" for the next couple of weeks. Problems with a body >half a century old! We can then LIM KOPI!

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