“The proper study of Mankind is Man,”
wrote Alexander Pope in 1733. Bringing
this thought into the context of a modern
digital photographer, making portraits of
men, women, and children is a passionate
undertaking for many of us.
As a well-known proverb says, “the eyes are
the window to the soul.” It’s often believed
that by looking into someone’s eyes you
can see into their core being; and that
by observing a face, or a photo of a face,
you can understand character. The issues
common to all photography—composition,
lighting, exposure, and camera technique—
come into play when you make a portrait.
In portraiture, the variables of character
and physiognomy add assumptions about
the relationship between reality and
portrayal, as well as challenges in rendering
character as you see it, and opportunities
for creative photography.