Assignment 9: Portraiture

My daughter posing for a portrait for me.

My daughter posing for a portrait for me. Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/30s, f/13, ISO 200, EV +0.6, 90mm focal length.

As I mentioned in the Assignment 8 Recap, there would be a quick turnaround for the next assignment.

For Assignment 9, I am looking for a portrait of a person and explain how you took it.  The portrait can be a head shot (as seen here of my lovely daughter), three-quarters (chest and above) or full length (head to toe).  The person can be anyone and taken between now and when the assignment is due.

How do you take a good portrait?  First and foremost you must have a good background.  It can not be so busy as to take away a viewer’s attention from the person you are photographing.  You can use natural backgrounds as I did here or use something as simple as a white bedding sheet.

Next, lighting must be flattering on your model.  Here, I had good soft light from an overcast sky.  I angled my daughter so the light direction was to the camera’s left giving her face nice definition.  The cloudy sky allowed her to have her eyes open and not squinting. You can use anything you want to get the light the way you want it.  Natural or artificial (flash), reflectors, umbrellas, soft boxes, etc.  The photo of my daughter would have been improved if I had used fill flash to create catchlights in her eyes.

Here are some helpful links:

Quick Tips for Quick Portraits

Flash is Our Friend

Outdoor Portraiture

How to Photograph Natural Looking Portraits

As in the other assignments, do not send me your photos. What I would like you to do is post them on your blog, flickr or other photo sharing site, personal website or any other place on the Internet where you can place a link to it here by making a comment to this blog entry. Then we can visit those sites and enjoy everyone’s Portraiture.

Please, have your photos posted on or before Midnight (your time), Wednesday, September 29, 2010. Don’t have a place to post? Might be a good time to start up a blog or join a photo community like flickr.  As I have done for all the Assignments, I’ll put together a recap with my comments.

If you have any questions, leave me a comment and I will be happy to answer them. By the way, I would really appreciate it if you would help spread the word about this assignment so we can get lots of people to participate. Blog it, tweet it, email it and talk about it to your fellow photographers, bloggers, friends, family and pets. Thank you!

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46 Responses to Assignment 9: Portraiture

  1. Oh great.. this is NOT going to be fun! LOL
    Your daughter is very pretty, and you are very lucky to have her agree to pose for you.
    Btw. the portrait of her could be further improved by observing the rule of thirds and placing her eyes in the upper third of the picture 🙂


  2. Carsten says:

    And now to something completely different…..
    I know how I take the pictures. – Just press the button 🙂
    Let us see what this assignment brings out.
    BTW, I agree with Michaela about your daughter. And understand why you didn’t want to crop the green contrast from the image.


  3. Nye says:

    Perfect assignment, I was going to look into this next. I like your daughter’s picture as is. 🙂


  4. giiid says:

    Great theme, I love to take portraits, unfortunately I´m in lack of models and will possibly need to find a stranger, too…
    The portrait of your daughter is lovely.


  5. Gerry says:

    I have been trying to take more photos with people in them, so this is a welcome challenge. Too bad I can’t use the portrait of Betty Hoover! It breaks all the rules, of course . . . but so does Betty. I have thought of a victim, er, subject. We shall see. (With daughters like yours, you are spoilt for choice, as Mrs. Uhdd would say.)


  6. Karma says:

    Hmmm… you’ve thrown down a bit of a gauntlet for me here, Scott. My most likely portrait subjects happen to be teenagers; the difficulty of getting a facial expression that looks real and natural is of more immediate concern to me than figuring out how to best photograph one of them! Have any tips for that?

    The shot of your daughter is lovely .. and she looks old enough to be reasonable about it for you! 🙂


  7. kanniduba says:

    Oh Poop! (to steal my 3 year old’s favorite term of the week.)

    Proper lighting of my subjects is the thing (okay, so one of many things) I just can’t seem to get the knack of. And since I usually take candid rather than posed portraits, the lighting is either there in the moment or it isn’t…
    Guess it’s time to stop relying on luck, eh? 😉

    I’ll see what I can do.


  8. Just added a fourth link I found today. Excellent tips!


  9. Pam says:

    Your daughter is beautiful!! Great pic!


  10. Brian Jones says:

    I also enjoy getting my daughter out every once in a while. In the first photo, I liked how her expression kind of matched the man in the mural. I placed her to the right of this great mural. It was a sunny day, but this tall wall cast a nice shadow to all some great natural light.

    In this second one, we went up on top of the wall where the riverfront is and while I had a hard time getting her not to squint in most of the shots, I was able to capture this moment with her looking away. The bridges in downtown Joliet, IL make for great backgrounds. I think the DOF in this one works for me.


  11. Mike Criss says:

    Perfect timing Scott. Just did some senior pics for my daughter and posted how I did it with off-camera flash on my blog.


  12. doreen3boys says:

    Thanks to the wonderful Michaela spreading the word, I thought I would join in the fun since I just posted a portrait of my son.
    (I’m not sure how to link this, hopefully it works….)

    Like Scott said, my kids have been conditioned to stop whatever they are doing when the camera is pointed at them. Daniel is the best of the bunch in striking a pose instantly.

    The background was achieved by using f/2.8 and focusing on the closest eye to me. A shirt on would’ve made this pic so much better but I take what I can get 😉

    Thanks for letting me join!


  13. Preston says:

    Hello Scott. It has been a while since I’ve taken the challenge of one of your assignments. Here is my entry for this assignment: Haven’t a clue who my subject was and he hasn’t a clue there is a portrait of him. Was taken at a public event.


  14. kanniduba says:

    My attempt…(and before the due date too! Shocking, isn’t it?!) 😉


  15. Pingback: Another Challenge « Views Infinitum

  16. Carsten says:

    This assignment is difficult to finish after all the input I’ve had the last week.
    Here is my contribution :


  17. Kathy says:

    Oh my! I just saw this! Our next assignment. Taking a slow long deep breath. Not gulping. OK, we can try. We can try. We can try–by next Wednesday, you say?


  18. Kathy says:

    By the way, I just put this assignment on Facebook….maybe you’ll get some new faces to participate. (Pun intended!)


  19. Karma says:

    Hi Scott! Here’s my attempt at portraiture. I’m actually happier with one of the portraits than the other, but I didn’t mention that in the post. I wonder if anyone would be able to tell from the pictures who don’t know my girls!


  20. Dawn says:

    hmmm…so I should be posting a portrait photo with my model engaged with me? I do have one of her where she’s looking back, I think she was wishing I wasn’t taking the photo…I didn’t like it as well…but it’s posted in my blog on 9/26, one post before the official portrait post. We were in a restaurant and the light was coming from a huge window behind her…



  21. Robin says:

    Hi Scott. This is my first time commenting and participating in one of your assignments. I’ve been lurking a while and thought it was time to jump into the fun. 🙂

    Here is the link to my attempt at portraiture:

    Thanks for the reminder about posting the link. 🙂


  22. Kathy says:

    Thank you, Scott. Your assignment was a lovely gift. I am feeling all mushy and emotional after writing about the two friends who agreed to pose:


  23. Did you know Mount Rushmore makes for one heck of a backdrop for portraits? Neither did I until last week.

    A Monumental Portrait


  24. giiid says:

    I´m early this time, but here is my contribution:



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