Documentary Photography: Fashion Photographs and Portraits.

Lighting Assignment:

For our lighting assignment we have been asked to use one model and one outfit to produce two images: one portrait shot and one fashion shot. They can either be done in a studio setting or on location however, they must incorporate studio flash. We will be assessed on how well each image differs from the other and how well we have coped using the portable lighting kit. As this is a required aspect of the module, I feel that it is essential that I research in to what Fashion and Portrait Photography entails so that I can differentiate the shots that I take when I come to photographing my model for the lighting assignment.

Portrait Photography:

“A portrait is the questioning or exploration of identity through a literal representation of what somebody looks like.” Susan Bright Art Photography Now 2005. 

The general understanding of portrait photography seems to be the exploration of a model in a photograph (with only head and shoulders exposed) who through facial expression projects what they feel conveys their personality.

An example of this can be seen in renowned photographer Martin Schoeller’s work below, whose similar treatment in style to both celebrity and unknown models has made his portrait work distinguishable in comparison to others. Below is a portrait of comedian/actor Zach Galifianakis; although his expression is somewhat serious, comical personality is evident as he is photographed with cereal and accessories smothered over his trademark beard. Although I must say by no means is Martin Schoeller my favourite photographer as I find his work often to be too bright and exposed, I feel that he gives a great demonstration as to what a portrait photograph implicates; it is clear that it is a portrait and not a fashion shot even if he is a familiar face .

Fashion Photography:

“The production of a fashion image is a collaborative effort between a team that includes stylists, art directors, assistants and the client.” Susan Bright Art Photography Now 2005.

A genre that is completely devoted to the production of selling clothes, where the idea is to make the ordinary extraordinary. This can often be enhanced by locations and accessories. The model in the photograph often portrays an ideal that the viewer seeks to achieve, posing in dramatic and exaggerated angles in contrast to their less expressive faces.

Below, is another good example of what defines fashion photography. The model’s face is not as expressive as the portrait shot above, and her body is in a classic fashion pose which shows off the clothes that she is modeling. The shot is overall less humorous but more dramatic in almost every way in comparison to the portrait photograph; the lighting is somewhat similar as they are both shot in a studio, however the lighting her is darker again to provide a mood that is glamorous and different.

Though exploring these photographs, the following bullet points I feel have narrowed down what I would see are crucial points that must be evident in both Portrait and Fashion Photography:

Portrait Photography:

  • Facial expressions are easy to define where model looks at the camera, inviting the camera
  • Model is central to photograph
  • Close up shot with less background
  • Head and shoulders only, minimal of body shown.

Fashion Photography:

  • Model has little to no facial expression, creating distance with camera
  • Dramatic Poses that show off clothing
  • Model doesn’t need to be central, wider shot can be taken.

As we have been asked to produce two photographs that represent a portrait and fashion shot in the same location, these are definitely aspects of both styles of photography that I will take in to consideration when I come to creating these shots.


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