Art of portrait photography design

Some design methods may impress us invariably; for example, a “tall” person photographed from below looks superior. A short person, photographed looking down, looks rather inferior. Imposing poses, even with arms supported in a way that enlarges the body, can be studied in the portraits of art history.

But these poses can also be found in today’s portraits of politicians. How people present themselves can depend very much on the fashions of an era and on prevailing attitudes. For the grandfather generation, the portrait photo was about the dignified, serious presentation of the whole upright figure. Starting in the 1920s, more and more smiling people can be found in the pictures. A smile does not necessarily signal only a friendly social mood. Those who have nothing to laugh about remain serious. It is the success in life, the demanded fun in life, which is documented today by the smile. At the same time, a smile with a lot of “teeth” can certainly have an aggressive aftertaste. Today, in addition to the smile, we also prefer spontaneous, genuine, or at least “posed-real” expression on the portrait photo.

Photos with a mirror lens (which shoots “around the corner”), on the other hand, show undisguised expression, but also a relaxed calmness of the face, which is otherwise very rarely seen in photos. When people gather in front of the camera, they all too often have a uniform, typical facial expression. They are waiting for something to happen right away – namely, the release of the camera, and you can see it in their faces. The more or less patient anticipation of the click is clearly visible in the facial expression. This is the standard facial expression in amateur photos. The subjects are standing and their arms are hanging down at their sides. In fact, this is not a very common posture. You would assume it when you are passive, listening to a speech or a concert, for example.


This passivity, this waiting drawn out into eternity, is conveyed in many portrait photographs in an uncomfortable way. When the subjects are doing something, holding something with their hands, propping themselves up, etc., more appealing images emerge.

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