10 Lessons Learned From the Masters of Portrait Photography

Finding your voice in photography can be a difficult task when you're not exactly sure where to look. Learn these 10 lessons from some of the greatest portrait photographers and take your work to the next level.

I think most photographers have found themselves in a rut when it comes to the pictures they take. This is why it's useful for us to look to others in an attempt to step outside of ourselves. This week, photographer and educator Alex Kilbee of The Photographic Eye is back once again with a fascinating video on how he found his voice in portrait photography and the lessons that can be discovered by looking at some of the greats in photography.

The video is jam-packed with suggestions of how we can improve our portrait photography, from getting closer to your subject, to evoking reactions, to shooting instinctively, to restricting ourselves with the gear we use. While many of you will have heard of a lot of these suggestions before, Kilbee explains the reasons for these lessons and backs them up with some amazing visual examples from the likes of Robert Mapplethorpe, Yousef Karsh, and Andy Gotts. One point that really stood out for me is the importance of communicating to our subjects what we actually want to achieve. This may seem like an obvious point to make, but I think many of us are too busy hiding behind our cameras that we forget that the person in front of the lens isn't a mindreader.

Kilbee's videos are always full to the brim with inspiring words and images while still being concise enough that they can all be easily digested in one sitting. If you're in need of some ideas on how to improve your portrait photography, this video is a must-watch.

Paul Parker's picture

Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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Nadar, the most underrated artist in the entire genre of art and photography. He lives in the world of Steiglitz as a promoter of painting and photography, not to mention his arial shots, cartoons and the introduction of Impressionists. Arnold invented environmental photography.

Arnold's portrait of Krupp fits better into your piece. You should look up the history of the Kennedy image. And frankly, Arnold's image of LBJ is the better than Kennedy's. Arnold interacted with his subjects. He had great assistants and great assignments.