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50 inspiring examples of emotional portrait photography

Although photographic lighting and the way we capture the image with a camera may have changed over the years; all great portraits, whether they are taken on film or digitally, depend on the photographer’s ability to use light and pose his or her subject. Surprisingly, there seems to be something of an enigmatic aura that surrounds portrait photography; even some professional photographers admit that they won’t fully understand about photographic lightning.

However once you do, a few very general principles such as -how light can be used to make your subject look more dimensional, you will find that even very dramatic looking lightning patterns are otfer nothing more than variations on a basic theme. Similarly, very slight adjustments in the pose -a tilt of the head, or turning the body away from or towards the light, can make a subtle but vital difference.

Portrait photography is the capture by means of photography of the likeness of a person, in which the face and expression is predominant. The objective is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the subject. Like other types of portraiture, the focus of the photograph is the person’s face, although the entire body and the background may be included. A portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. [src : wikipedia]

Unlike many other photography styles, the subjects of portrait photography are often non-professional models. A large amount of patience and understanding the photographer’s mind is needed by the subject to portray the perfect emotion which the situation demands.

In this showcase, I have selected some of the most stunning photographs of human portraits which portray a strong sense of emotion, personality, and life.

1) close by robert maschke

2) Goran Jovic by Vedran Vidak

3) ~~ W ~~  Thomas Ljungberg

4) Tatsua suzuki

5) tegas by junaidi sudirman

6) Arash Karimi

7) S by Magda Berny

8) Lina by Beppe Ranieri

9) Shadow Of Her Smile by gunnisal

10) Afghan girl (50 years later) by Lev Tsimring

11) One old man by simona7569

12) K by rust

13) Grandma by Ervan Nanggalo

14) LikArt

15) Keeping an eye on matters by bolandrotor

16) old balinese smoker by nickodarwis

17) Zoltan Huszti

18) Raphael Guarino

19) Old POPEYE The Sailor Man by Ario Wibisono

20) Csehák Szabolcs

21) Desert by Csaba Zoller

22) AMAZING ANGELby Linda Palm van Meel

23) Celebrities street .. by Edmondo

24) Brothers by deskounlmtd

25) Ice… by Ilya Rashap

26) SMOKING KILL by olteanu calin

27) Tatsuo Suzuki

28) flower by Daniel Otten

29) Modern gladiator by Jeroen Oosterhof

30) Black Beauty by Roberto Sias

31) Naga Baba by martin prihoda

32) Suran

33) Cabaret by Stéphanie Toselli

34) coal miner’s holiday by curiozzo

35) Lonely by Andre Arment

36) Little Wonders by Sylvie Bendel

37 Devotion by Joey

38) frozen by DNA

39) Learn To Fly by Jennifer

40) Every picture tells a story by Sandy Powers

42) Seyba.by CARLOS DUARTE

43) A Strange New World by Chris

44) life cycles (tired, part two) by Robert

45) Tina by Vedran Vidak

46) Bat Mask by Jennifer

47) LikArt

48) Breakdown by Jeroen Oosterhof

49) Tribal Initiation by toothpilot

50) Carbunari by marius grozea

51) Please!!!!! by Robert

52) Silenced by lovethelight

53) Va, vis et deviens by aleci

Well, I believe the photos certainly inspired you. There is so much emotion in the photos that I can’t stop but wonder how much information a photo can share (looking beyond the ’1000 words’ idiom). There is absolutely no denying that portrait photography is the most difficult form of photography and the photos simply justifies that fact.

Here are a few resources which I found were pretty useful. If you are an aspiring photographer, you might want to go through these links.

1) How to take portraits

This article by DPS, has 19 of the most popular portrait photography articles found in the archives of DPS from over 600 articles.

2) How to take excellent portrait photos

In this article, WDD gives you simple techniques to help you take portraits and also self portraits, to make the very best of your photos. At the end of the article, you’ll find a showcase of great portraits and self portraits that you can use for inspiration.

3) 100 outstanding photoshop actions to enhance your photography

Have you ever seen photos in magazines or on the web and wondered how they achieved that look. TPA has collected over 100 Photoshop actions that will help you achieve some of these looks and save you a ton of time in the process. Happy post processing!

Further Resources for Inspiration:

1) 1x.com Portrait photography pool

2) Flickr Portrait Photography Pool

3) Wikipedia Page on Portrait Photography

4) Portrait photography tips from Photo.net

5) Portrait Photography : Secrets of posing and lightning by Mark Cleghorn

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58 Responses to “50 inspiring examples of emotional portrait photography”
  1. Great Job Richie! Each one tells it’s own story. Lots of smokers in the roundup :)
    .-= Shawn Ramsey´s last blog ..35 Killer Examples Of Lion Logos =-.

  2. Jahangir says:

    Excellent photos.

    You can include this photo too, I find it too emotional :)


  3. Kawsar Ali says:

    Very inspiring. I love the black and white gritty look.
    .-= Kawsar Ali´s last blog ..Amazing Digital Sketches Showcase from Odosketch =-.

  4. suraj says:

    Great collection! each and every portrait has its own unique emotion.
    .-= suraj´s last blog ..Photoshop Tutorial: Icy effect to Text =-.

  5. Abhishek says:

    Amazing Pics… 43rd is the best one… :) Really a strange new world for the kid… ha ha :D
    .-= Abhishek´s last blog ..How To Export/Import/Backup Passwords In Mozilla Firefox (All Versions) =-.

  6. Rocky says:

    Wow.. really beautiful collection..
    .-= Rocky´s last blog ..30 Really Fantastic Collection of Photoshop Custom Shapes =-.

  7. Dzinepress says:

    awesom emotions in these all photographs.

  8. Awesome! Thanks a lot for sharing..
    I always like to read you nice blog post..

  9. Very impressing and inspiring collection!

  10. Hilde says:

    Wow I love this collection!
    Thank you so much! :D
    .-= Hilde´s last blog ..World Cup is here! Inspirational Art to Celebrate Soccer =-.

  11. Eren says:

    Each and every one tells a thousand words,
    great collection.
    .-= Eren´s last blog ..Create Stone Text Inside Water Using The Filter Gallery =-.

  12. david says:

    WOW From Spain

  13. Stunning images – I’d love to share this on my blog :-)

  14. a3u5z1i says:

    Amazing :)
    The expression is very great..
    I like this COOLection :)

  15. naveen says:

    Awesome Richie..! Very nice collection, Really loved the post..!

  16. These photos have their own message to convey. When printed on stickers, these pictures look make a good collection. Get them printed at http://www.psprint.com/stickers-labels and get great designs

  17. This post is amazing. I just blogged about it in my blog, I hope you don’t mind. I linked your blog too, here’s the page: http://funfgemuse.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/emotional-portraits/

  18. good selection!
    I’m glad to see that:)

  19. ilmucts says:

    inspiration that is very impressive

  20. Abhishek says:

    This is an excellent collection…Loved the spurts of emotions on the faces.

  21. The lighting and expression definitely make most of these pictures great. The other thing I noticed is that quite a few of these images have unexpected elements that also catch your attention pretty quickly.

  22. That was a beautiful insight into the world of portrait photography.. :) Hats off to all the lens-men.
    Linked along is a blog of mine mainly portraying subjects in India, its wildlife, the people, landscape, culture and many other interesting photos of Incredible India.

  23. Jay says:

    Absolutely stunning portraits.

    My favourites are #8, #24 and #35.

    They truly are inspirational images.

  24. These are absolutely wondrous. great round up thanks

  25. Bit of a tonal mapping overload there for my liking but some good examples. I love number 29 shows some real personality.

  26. Jackie says:

    There is something really delightful about the light in most of these images. So many of us are drawn to documenting this perfection in our skin–but as a flower who has been exposed to a lot of sun the interest is magnified at full bloom. The stories are told in the reflections on their eyes and the folds in their skin. Lovely.

  27. Tubi says:


  28. jack says:

    nice and highly creative photos…enjoy…

  29. These are some truly amazing pictures. I don’t know much about photography. But, I think both the subject of the pictures and they way they were taken makes them a really interesting group of pictures. We live in an amazing world with an amazing array of people cultures and characters. This series of pictures seems to cover a wide variety of them. Very nice and interesting.

  30. sanjana says:

    beautiful,lovely and a
    great collection…..

  31. Vivek says:

    The only issue with all these photos is that none of these is spontaneously captured. All have been posed for. That, I believe, takes away the real motive of freezing a moment in its originality.

    Also, rarely does any one of the above reflect a true binding emotion. The reflect thoughtfulness, maybe grief, subtlety; but definitely not emotion. For example, what emotion is being highlighted in the fourth image?

  32. Unbelievably nice pictures. Liked #40 the most. Thanks for sharing.

  33. I just love these images. Black and white still rules.. Hats Off to you all. great work

  34. Theyes says:

    Damn good pics. thankyou for sharing :)

  35. These are some great examples of portraits with emotions in them. I absolutely love it when it is possible to see which emotion the model chooses to show. Especially when its an old person in the photograph.

  36. Really2 awesome inspiring photos and well taken.

    Well I really like black & white photos.

  37. SSK says:

    I’m almost started visiting this site every week… fantastic… inspirational.. amazing… picture worth 1000 words fits for each of these images…

  38. Absolutely love these images!! All of them tell a story without a single word. Inspiring!

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