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The Art of Photography - Essay Example

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A portrait in a general meaning of the word is a painting, photograph, or other artistic representation of a person. Portraits are often simple head shots or mug shots and are not usually overly elaborate. The intent is to show the basic appearance of the person, and occasionally some artistic insight into his or her personality.
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The Art of Photography
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Download file to see previous pages One of best-known portraits in the Western world is Leonardo da Vinci's painting titled Mona Lisa, which is a painting of an unidentified woman.
Some of the earliest portraits of people who were not kings or emperors, are the funeral portraits that survived in the dry climate of Egypt's Fayum district. These are the only paintings of the Roman period that have survived, aside from frescos.
An often neglected form of art in photography is that of portrait photography. A portrait is the basic rendering of someone's likeness. A good portrait photographer not only wants to capture the true likeness, but also the personality of the individual. The photographer needs to be proficient not only in the workings and setting of the camera, but also needs to understand form and lighting. Great lighting and positioning can make someone appear at their best form if used correctly. Lighting and camera placement can also aid in correcting defects such as shortening a nose, making someone appear slimmer, etc. In this form of art, portrait photography takes on many roles, and can help create various moods that the individual is seeking (Clarke 12).
Portrait photography is a popular commercial industry a...
Studios sprang up in cities around the world, some cranking out more than 500 plates a day. The style of these early works reflected the technical challenges associated with 30-second exposure times and the painterly aesthetic of the time. Subjects were generally seated against plain backgrounds and lit with the soft light of an overhead window and whatever else could be reflected with mirrors (Freeman 32-33).
Change in photography - the optimist would call it progress - has a number of drivers. Changes in technology, changes in the marketplace and the need for a creative individual to do new things are among the more important.
Of course these interact strongly, particularly in the case of the last two, as even the most creative among us need to eat. So when we consider how photographic portraiture has developed through any period of time, one vital consideration is the changes in the various market sectors that use it.
Of course some market areas are conservative by nature, perhaps most strongly the bread and butter studio portrait for the general public. Even within this constrained genre there have of course been photographers whose work stands out, many who remain unsung, others who by accident of fortune achieve fame, even if posthumously - such as the great body of portraits by Michael Disfarmer - perhaps one day the subject for another feature.
Arguably the greatest area of development in portrait photography from the 30's to the 50's was the illustrated magazine, for which many of the finest portrait photographers work. A good example is Bill Brandt, who produced striking photographs of literary, musical and artistic figures in the late 40s and early 50s. Few of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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