I constantly look for inspiration in other photographers’ work. Finding aspiring artists and unusual ways of taking portraits lets me develop my own visual language. Different types of portrait photography will let you reflect on your own work and develop your photography style.
You should still be mindful of separating inspiration from blatantly copying specific images or elements in them.
Portrait photography is the art of conveying the presence of a character by utilizing the environment through your narrative. Some of the best portraits involve the most authentic capture of human emotion and expression.
For more than twenty years, the little-known photographer Sergey Bratkov has documented post-Soviet life in the streets of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Moscow. Simultaneously combining irony and a very subjective approach to emphasise the aesthetic and moral taboos of contemporary Eastern European society.
With his shots he freezes pressing social themes relating to a world lost as a result of a sudden and traumatic change. His portraits immortalise lonely and isolated people: (anti)heroes who live in a defeated universe.
2. Rineke Dijkstra
The single portraits usually working in series, additionally Rineke Dijkstra focuses on particular groups and communities of people, such as mothers, teenagers, and soldiers. With an emphasis on capturing the vulnerable side of her subjects.
“With young people everything is much more on the surface—all the emotions,” the artist observed. “When you get older you know how to hide things.”
3. Alec Soth
Alec Soth is a leading contemporary photographer, widely recognized for documenting American social and geographic landscapes. Soth is best known for his project-based work on what he calls “the big middle”—the American Midwest. Using a large-format 8×10 camera, Alec Soth captures offbeat, intimate images of American life.
He first gained recognition with his series “Sleeping by the Mississippi” (2004), lush, painterly color prints of landscapes and portraits shot over five years on car trips along the Mississippi River.
4. Juergen Teller
Juergen Teller is primarily known for his fashion photography, appearing in publications such as Purple. Teller’s photographs embrace the idiosyncrasies of his subjects and the spontaneity of the moment. The artist’s technique is characterized by a casual, continuous shooting style using two film cameras at once and a bright flash.
In addition to his commissioned photographs, Teller has also created a series of candid portraits of both himself and his family and friends. As well as poetic photographs of subjects such as cracks in the sidewalk and freshly fallen snow.
5. Alessandra Sanguinetti
Alessandra Sanguinetti began a series of works about the private lives of two nine-year-old cousins, Belinda and Guille, who live on a farm outside of Buenos Aries. Sanguinetti photographed them for ten years, charting their evolution from girls to young women. Initially the girls collaborated with Sanguinetti on the series, The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of their Dreams.
But eventually she constructed images that evoked the fantasies and fears accompanied the transition from childhood to adulthood. The photographs use costumes and props, as well as references to art and literature. Exploring the diffuse boundary between fantasy and reality.
As the girls age, the photographs become more meditative as they start exploring their adult lives.
6. Larry Sultan
Larry Sultan was an American photographer known for his use of images to create a discourse between fiction and documentary. The seminal photobook Pictures From Home (1992), achieved this difficult ambiguity through combining film stills from home movies, contemporary photographs of suburbia, and texts from his journal.
“What drives me to continue this work is difficult to name. It has more to do with love than with sociology. With being a subject in the drama rather than a witness,” he once explained.
7. Hellen Van Meene
In her light- and color-saturated photographs, Hellen van Meene captures adolescents in stunning portraits. Indeed, at once elegant and awkward, she effectively reveals the dignity and vulnerability of this tender time of life. Despite her portraits of boys, she focuses on young women and adolescent girls. Nevertheless, always shooting in natural light, van Meene works with models she has known for years.
Her photographs recall 17th-century Dutch paintings, with their exquisite, jewel-like details and glowing, light-washed quality. Even if she approaches her subjects as if they were objects, she carefully dresses and poses them, allowing chance to intervene.
What types of portrait photography are you interested in ? Comment below and let me know how you came to be about that.
You can find more portrait inspiration and tips on my Pinterest.
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