Formal portraits; those that include little more than head and shoulders, are intimate representations which have now become the daily currency of ‘profile pics’. For many social media outlets these representations are extremely transitory and often non-representative. However, in many situations it is crucial to present a formal portrait that shows a more complete image of who you are and how you want to be seen by a specific audience. For instance the creation of a portrait of an author for their book is likely to require a different approach to the creation of their portrait for a Facebook page. Likewise a formal portrait that may be framed and hung like a painting requires more than just a quick snapshot. 

In this portrait of Professor Sutton of the University of St Andrews in Scotland I chose to use a soft chiaroscuro lighting to give a feel of the Dutch Golden Age where the face sits proudly amid sparsly detailed shadow.   

Professor Sutton
Juan de Linares

Location portraits situate the sitter with just enough background detail to offer a sense of place, enhancing the character of the face and allowing us an entry into their world. Here, unassisted natural lighting provides the perfect texture for the rustic countenance of Juan from Linares. The process of capturing location portraits is generally less confined than that of the formal portrait where movement of subject and camera contributes to the outcome as well as the pursuit of subtle changes in expression.

Stylised portraits draw on a combination of formal and location sensibilities to compose a creative harmony between the sitter and their backdrop that allows for a greater freedom of composition and ‘design’. A statement can be made. Here Sonia’s inherent creativity and style shines through Golden Mean divisions and a satisfying completeness of colour and tone.