Portraiture Project

Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn

Project Objective:

PORTRAITS (PEOPLE AND ANIMALS): TWO contact sheets ( at least) and Eight final images on a single image template with name and title.

Photographing people offers the greatest rewards. Here is the opportunity to examine and record not only the flesh and bone but also more importantly the psychology of the sitter. Let the images reveal rather than reflect. Let the pictures be a window and not a mirror. Make sure that the picture made is the one you direct and not be about how the sitter thinks they should be presented.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

Slide show with Photographer Examples: Slideshow of lighting for portraiture project

Reading on portraits-article-chapter-5 from Focus on Photography, by Hermon Joyner and Kathleen Monaghan 

Consider the location, background and the natural light. Utilize structures like a staircase or window. Bright sunny days create long deep shadows on the face and could be problematic while cloudy overcast days provide a soft diffused light. Use a reflector if you have one. You may want to isolate the subject from the background by using a wide aperture setting ( f5.6) limiting the depth of field but I remind you to focus on the eyes. Remember to interact with your subject and tell them what to do. You are the director!


Students will create at least two contact sheets.

This assignment requires a total of EIGHT finished prints. The eight images must be from the list below. The images will be placed on your weebly with title captions.

Contact sheets must include the following themes:

  1. Hands: photograph hands in expressive postures or engaged in interesting activities.  You may photograph one hand by itself, both hands of one person, or many hands of several people.
  2. Young and/or Old: photograph someone or a small group of people that are at least 10 years older or younger than you. You can focusing on the face, so pay attention to the expression and think about capturing the person’s personality.
  3. Formal Portrait: Shoot a couple of head to shoulders photographs in which the light source is in the studio with a solid background.
  4. Side- Lit: The subject is strongly lit from one side. The light can be artificial or natural.
  5. Environmental Portrait: Photograph people with “props”-tools, sports equipment, musical instruments or any other object with which the can interact. The objects can talk about the person’s personality or interests.
  6. Mood Portrait: Produce a photograph(s) that clearly expresses moods. Get more than just a picture of somebody. Capture a particular facial expression or posture to convey something of what your subject is feeling.  Try to make the viewer feel the dame way.
  7. Detail Portrait:  When photographing a person think about ways to crop in on expressive details of the objects that relate in some way to the subject. (Part of the face may be shown, but not all of it).
  8. Self-Portrait or Candid Portrait: You will get the option to try out your timer on your camera with a tripod to shoot a couple of portraits of yourself.  Or, you can shoot some candid portraits.  Candid portraits capture a person going about everyday life and activities, whether watching TV or playing sports.  Don’t try to pose your subject like you would for the other types of portraits, but let them be natural.  Maybe, follow them around and capture them in action.


EXTRA CREDIT: Duplicate a portrait pose inspired by a published image. Find a picture in a magazine or online that you would like to have someone in the same pose and do it!  You must save the image and turn it in with the duplicated portrait for credit.

published photo example of student copy work

 Artist Statement:

Type the artist statement into your Weebly website. Check your grammar and make sure to have at least 3-4 sentences for each section.

Describe: Describe your overall series of portraits, tell the viewer what you were trying to capture or the people/animals you focused on the series. This is a brief overview of what the viewer is looking at in the artwork.

Analyze: Applying photography vocabulary discuss how the elements of art are being used in the series of portraits.

Interpret: What was your process or concept for this series of photographs? What was your story or meaning behind the artwork series?

Judgment: What were some challenges and successes in the project? What did you learn overall from this experience? Did you have an ah-ha moment? Explain your thoughts and feelings for this project.

 Student Work: