Exploring Different Styles in Portrait Photography: Traditional vs Contemporary

Portrait photographer is a captivating art form that has been practiced for centuries. It allows photographers to capture the essence and personality of their subjects, creating a lasting visual representation of a person. Over time, different styles of portrait photography have emerged, each with its own unique characteristics and techniques. In this article, we will explore two main styles of portrait photography: traditional and contemporary.

Traditional Portrait Photography

Traditional portrait photography is rooted in a classic and timeless approach. It aims to capture the subject in a formal and posed manner, often in a studio setting. This style is characterized by its attention to detail, use of classical lighting techniques, and emphasis on the subject’s face and expression.

Contemporary Portrait Photography

Contemporary portrait photography, on the other hand, takes a more modern and creative approach. It aims to capture the subject in a candid and natural way, often in an outdoor or unconventional setting. This style is characterized by its use of unique angles, creative compositions, and experimentation with lighting. Contemporary portrait photography breaks away from traditional norms and seeks to showcase the subject’s personality and individuality. It encourages the subject to express themselves authentically, resulting in more dynamic and engaging photographs. One of the defining features of contemporary portrait photography is the use of unique angles. Photographers may experiment with different perspectives to add depth and visual interest to the image. This can include shooting from above, below, or from unconventional vantage points, creating a fresh and innovative visual experience. Creative compositions are also a prominent aspect of contemporary portrait photography. Photographers may play with symmetry, asymmetry, leading lines, and other compositional techniques to create visually striking and aesthetically pleasing images. By carefully arranging elements within the frame, photographers can enhance the overall impact and storytelling of the portrait. Lighting is another crucial element in contemporary portrait photography. Photographers often experiment with natural light, utilizing the warm, soft glow of the golden hour or the dramatic shadows of harsh sunlight. They may also incorporate artificial lighting, such as strobes or reflectors, to manipulate and enhance the mood and atmosphere of the photograph. In contrast to traditional portrait photography, contemporary portrait photography often takes place outside of a studio setting. By photographing subjects in their natural environments or unconventional locations, photographers can capture their true essence and create a more authentic portrayal. This approach allows for a greater sense of spontaneity and freedom, resulting in photographs that feel more alive and real. Overall, contemporary portrait photography embraces creativity, experimentation, and a fresh perspective. It aims to go beyond traditional notions of portraiture and capture the subject’s essence in a unique and visually compelling way.

The Debate: Traditional vs Contemporary

The choice between traditional and contemporary portrait photography ultimately comes down to personal preference and the desired outcome. Both styles have their own unique merits and can be equally captivating and impactful.


Portrait photography is a versatile and captivating art form that allows photographers to capture the unique essence of their subjects. Traditional portrait photography is characterized by a formal and posed approach, with an emphasis on controlled lighting and classic posing techniques. On the other hand, contemporary portrait photography takes a more modern and creative approach, with a focus on natural expressions, unique angles, and experimentation with lighting.

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