What is a portrait

What is a portrait

What is a portrait

a portrait IS

What is a portrait? In this article, we will talk about the definition of a portrait. We will talk about the origins, the first portraits ever recorded, as well as today’s modern portrait. Lastly, we will talk about why should you hire a professional to capture your own portrait.

As a portrait photographer, it is important to define the tools of my trade and the ways I capture someone’s likeness. What in fact is a portrait not just in the historical sense but in today’s modern society meaning as well?

official Definition

According to Wikipedia, “a portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expressions are predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person.”

It is a likeness of a person, especially of the face, as a painting, drawing, or photograph of someone. In the past portraits were painted of prominent individuals, those that had the means and the money to be able to pay a painter to capture their likeness. One portrait is usually what such a person received and that is how they were remembered after their passing. 

Origins of a Portrait

what is the first portrait ever recorded

“Portraits date back to at least 5,000 years ago to ancient Egypt, where the art form is said to have originated. Some of the earliest known portraits are called the “Statues of Gudea”. 28 of these little statues remain and are considered portraiture because they all have similar features which appear to be representative of and unique to Gudea – a powerful ruler of ancient Lagash.” Read More Here.

Statue of Gudea

“Ancient portrait murals from Pompeii have been well-preserved for almost 2000 years by lava and ashes. One of the most famous is titled “Terentius Neo and his wife”. He holds a scroll and her a tablet – originally thought to be indicative of their status andeducation.”

“Terentius Neo and his wife”
Terentius Neo and his wife

The Purpose of a portrait

what is the porpose of a portrait

“Portraits have always been more than just a record. They have been used to show the power, importance, virtue, beauty, wealth, taste, learning or other qualities of the sitter.

Portraits have almost always been flattering, and painters who refused to flatter, such as William Hogarth, tended to find their work rejected. A notable exception was Francisco Goya in his apparently bluntly truthful portraits of the Spanish royal family.

Among leading modern artists portrait painting on commission, that is to order, became increasingly rare. Instead, artists painted their friends and lovers in whatever way they pleased. Most of Picasso’s pictures of women, for example, however bizarre, can be identified as portraits of his lovers.

At the same time, photography became the most important medium of traditional portraiture, bringing what was formerly an expensive luxury product affordable for almost everyone. Since the 1990s artists have also used video to create living portraits. But portrait painting continues to flourish.”

Read more on Tate.org.uk

The painting of Henry VIII

The Portraits in modern society

Portraits in modern society and portrait photography

In modern society, a portrait is a way of capturing someone’s likeness as they exist today and as a way of being remembered. It is not done just in the old form of a painting, but mainly as a photograph captured by a professional camera or even a cell phone.

Today even a selfie would categorize as a form of a modern portrait. Regardless of the form in which it is being captured, a modern portrait is still a very important way to remember special moments and individuals. Especially after someone passes, a portrait of those we love becomes very valuable to us.

why Hire a professional photographer or portrait artist

Professional portrait artists are trained to capture the likeness of someone in a very special way. Whether you get the final product as a framed photograph or a painting, a professional portrait of you and those you love will be how you will be remembered.

  1. It is difficult to capture your own portrait
  2. Professionals are trained to look beyond the facade of a person
  3. Professionals use professional equipment and lighting
  4. This is your way of telling your own story
  5. It is how you will be remembered
A portrait