Types of Portrait Photography

Types of Portrait Photography – Different Photography Styles

Do you enjoy taking photos of people, but you need a little more information on the different types of portrait photography? Portrait pictures are more than simply snapping a headshot, as it is about how you capture the person and their personality. To do this, you need to know about all the various portraits in photography.  So, read on for more information about this interesting topic.



What Is Portrait Style Photography?

This is a style or type of photography that focuses on portrait pictures. The focus of all the portrait photos is people. However, you can also get pet portrait photography. The images involve one or more people in the shot, and these can be taken with a variety of backgrounds or backdrops. The image remains the focal point and not the background. The main aim is to capture the personality or true spirit of the person within the desired environment. There are quite a few portrait-style photography options you can use, so you can still flex your creative muscles without feeling inhibited in any way.

Let us now take a closer look at some of the different portrait-style photography options.



Different Types of Portrait Photography

Portrait-style photography is something that anybody can do, from those just doing it for fun, to those who wish to make a career out of it. If you are doing it for fun, you can most probably use your phone, however, if you want to do photography right, you do need the proper equipment. So, make sure you have a good camera, lenses, and other necessary accessories. If you are a beginner, it might also be a good idea if you go on a photography course, so that you understand the basics and not waste time on all the technical stuff. You might also be a person who is simply interested in having a portrait photo taken and would like to learn more about it. Let us now get into some of the types of portrait photography available.

Genres of Photography

Portrait with window light by Italian photographer Paolo Monti, 1955; Paolo Monti, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Studio Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is also known as traditional photography. This is because it is most probably the first style or method anybody would think of. Another type of studio photography is formal portraits, which are more for business or official purposes.


Definition of Studio Portrait Photography

Sitting in a studio or set-up area with a colored backdrop and lights helps to improve the outcome of the photo. The person can be seated or standing in front of the camera. The photo generally is taken of the head and shoulders and the focus is on the face, but it can also be a full-body portrait style. Besides individual portraits, you can also have group or family portraits done.

Photography Styles

  • As the photographer, you can be creative with the backdrop, lighting, and facial expressions of the person.
  • This is a popular portrait style of photography, as the poses and lighting are usually flattering.
  • Studio portraits offer a professional and clean look to photos.
  • The environment is private and there is more control over what happens. The weather is also not an issue.
  • Provides the best black-and-white portrait photos.
  • You are stuck with shooting in a single location, and you have to understand how lighting works for professional photos.
  • The costs involved with photo studios can be expensive.
  • To some the photo might seem too posed and formal, however, this is a matter of opinion.


Ideal Situations for Studio Portraits

If you are taking headshots, this is popular for business purposes. Whenever there is a need for more privacy, or if a changing room is necessary, studio photos are the best option. The most common studio photo is an identification or driver’s license photo, which is a more formal portrait photo. The studio setup can also be moved to another location, with the same lighting and backdrop.

For instance, taking corporate headshots at a company.


Lifestyle Portrait Photography

The next portrait-style photography is slightly different from the more traditional version. If you do not want the standard studio look with a backdrop, then try lifestyle photography for a more interesting and realistic photo.

Types of Portrait Photography for Beginners


Definition of Lifestyle Portrait Photography

This type of portrait photography can be of a single person or many people and is usually taken in an environment where the subject finds themselves every day. These can be photos of a person doing ordinary tasks around the house. The photographer can also supply ideas, for example, they can ask a couple to hug or jump in the air.

  • You do not require a studio to take photos and can be done at a person’s home, so it is more flexible in application.
  • Lifestyle photography can capture real-life emotions and interactions.
  • This is a wonderful way to produce beautiful and memorable individual or family portraits.
  • This portrait style is quite informal and can be fun to do.
  • The photographer has a limited time to get all the photos needed.
  • Depending on where the photos are taken, this can be challenging. The weather could be an issue, or there can be distractions.


Ideal Situations for Lifestyle Portraits

This type of portrait photography is ideal for things like weddings, groups, and family photos. It could also be photos of people doing regular things at home or work. The photo should help to tell a story and provide a look into the life they are viewing.


Environmental Portrait Photography

This is not far from the previous options, as it is a combination of both types of traditional and lifestyle photography. As with the previous two, there are also a few advantages and disadvantages to this option.

Portrait Style Photography


Definition of Environmental Portrait Photography

The thing that sets this apart from the other previous two options is that the people involved as well as the location have significance and meaning. This is a great way to provide personality to portrait pictures. The location can be anywhere, from being taken at home, anywhere outdoors, or even at the office. For example, it could be a photo of where a couple first met. The photographer may use some posing techniques like traditional portraits and can also provide background and lighting.

All these elements work together to create this type of portrait photography.

  • The background can help to complement the final portrait photo.
  • The subject of the portrait photo can look at the camera or a photo can be taken while in action.
  • You will need to understand more about the subject and the setting, so it will take a little more insight than other styles.


Ideal Situations for Environmental Portraits

This is ideal if you want a more contemporary or modern look, or if you need variety in what the photos are used for. The idea is for the photo to provide some context, or to help you understand the subject a little more. This makes it the perfect option for personal branding, as it is an effective way of revealing something about the subject.

Candid Portrait Style


Candid Portrait Photography

This type of portrait photography is more spontaneous and provides a more honest look into a person’s life. Photography is an art, but this can be classified as being more so than some of the previous options.


Definition of Candid Portrait Photography

One of the more common examples is street photography, which can capture real-life moments. You do not have to go out and take photos of strangers, it simply means a photographer does not provide direction or offer posing positions, it is simply a photo taken in the moment. The photographer is encouraged by the position or lighting of the subject. Most photos are taken without the subject even being aware of it. However, some photographers might offer posing ideas or give directions to help encourage a spontaneous moment. This type of portrait photography can also be used to document events, where the subject may be aware photos are being taken but does not know when this will happen.

Portraits in Photography

  • When it comes to candid portrait photography, there is no setup required.
  • Images are seen as being more genuine, and not posed.
  • Many professionals say that it is easier to write more interesting captions for these types of photos.
  • This type of portrait photography can become controversial as it could catch someone in a compromising position, which could then be used in an exploitative manner.
  • Once the subject becomes aware a photo is being taken, the moment can be lost.


Ideal Situations for Candid Portraits

The best way to capture a candid photo is to be discreet and as unobtrusive as possible. You need to be patient and wait for that perfect moment and shot. In many cases, candid photos should be done with the permission of the subject.

Talk to them and inform them what you are doing, and then allow them to relax, and wait for the right moment.


More Types of Portrait Photography

The above portrait styles are not the only ones available, there are quite a few other types of portrait photography options out there. Many of these portraits in photography use similar methods but have added techniques and slightly different approaches.


Conceptual Portrait Photography

This is where photographers use different original ideas, props, and settings to create a certain concept or idea. This is also known as fine-art photography. Photos are often used to convey abstract ideas.

Different Genres of PhotographySelf-portrait with Ursula (1938) by photographer Annemarie Heinrich; Annemarie Heinrich (1912-2005), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Glamour Portrait Photography

The focus here is on beauty and photographers will use professional makeup and will plan the outfits. Boudoir photography can also be in this category, where portraits can be with lingerie or even nude.


Surreal Portrait Style

This portrait style is almost dream-like and photographers can include shapes or other unusual elements. The aim is to challenge the view of what normal is and should challenge our perception of reality. Quite often photographers use photoshop to achieve the surreal look they are going for.

Props and outfits can also be used to create a scene.



Today, these can easily be done by anybody who has a smartphone. However, when done properly, self-portraits can be a skillful addition to a photo album. “Selfies” are quick photos that you can take yourself. However, a proper self-portrait done by a professional photographer takes vision and planning to execute.

Portrait Pictures


Wedding Portraits

This is quite popular as you will always need a photographer for weddings. Photos on the day are usually done at a preferred location with beautiful scenery in the background. Many photographers also do bridal portraits, where the bride dresses up before the wedding. This can be a test run for the actual wedding day, and photos can be used as gifts.

The whole process is less stressful and there is more time to be creative and have fun.


Newborn Portrait Photography

Newborn photos are a beautiful way to keep reminders of the day your child was born. The photos will be something parents can keep and refer back to for the rest of their lives. Many photographers incorporate props and other ideas to create unique portrait photos.

Photography Variety


A great way to get a better understanding of the various types of portrait photography is by practicing. Try out the various types and techniques to see what you enjoy the most. Portrait-style photography is quite versatile, and there are many ways you can be creative and capture the essence of people!




Frequently Asked Questions


Can Portrait Photography Involve a Full Body Image?

Yes, it does not just have to be a headshot, you can also take a photo of a person’s whole body. However, full-body portraits can be more challenging than a simple headshot, as you need to take into account lighting, posing, and angles.


What Must Be Done To Create a Great Portrait?

You need to consider many things to create the best portrait-style photo. Think about location, lighting, composition, posing, and the emotions you wish to portray. You must also grasp the technical side of photography. Creating a good connection with your subject is also important.


What Is a Good Camera for Portrait Pictures?

There are many good cameras you can use for portrait photography, and all of them can capture great photos. What you should focus on is understanding how you should use the camera properly in different environments and lighting.


Cite this Article

Jordan, Anthony, “Types of Portrait Photography – Different Photography Styles.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. July 14, 2023. URL: https://artfilemagazine.com/types-of-portrait-photography/

Anthony, J. (2023, 14 July). Types of Portrait Photography – Different Photography Styles. artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. https://artfilemagazine.com/types-of-portrait-photography/

Anthony, Jordan. “Types of Portrait Photography – Different Photography Styles.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source, July 14, 2023. https://artfilemagazine.com/types-of-portrait-photography/.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *