Ashley Joanna Reveals the Secrets of Her Portrait Work

I'm not a portrait photographer, but it is one of the genres that I've been studying and practicing. This video by Chris Eyre-Walker reveals the insights of portrait photographer Ashley Joanna and illustrates the essence of portrait photography: the person in the portrait. 

All too often, a newbie portrait photographer (myself included) seeks to take a great picture of someone, without considering enough of who that person is. It makes sense once you learn it, but it may not be apparent to the first-time portrait shooter.

Ashley says: "I use my camera as a tool to get to know people." That's what really struck me about this video; she gets to know people first. She points out that she spends 80% of her time talking to the person and 20% of her time taking the image: "It helps me figure out how I'm going to take a picture that captures that originality of who this person is."

Just about anyone with a little photography knowledge can take a good photo of someone, but it takes more than just photography skills to make a portrait stand out and represent who that person is; it requires people skills. Ashley highlights the importance of getting to know the individual and understanding that each person has their own story.

For several weeks, I've been stuck trying to decide on a photography project for this holiday season. This video has helped me decide that I'm going to focus on the beauty of the people around me and not just the beauty of the winter season.

Be sure to check out Ashley's work on her website. Do you have any portrait insights that you would like to share? Let me know in the comments.

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10 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

This is why I read the articles. Thank you, Mike. Good stuff.

Studio 403's picture

Wonderful story. Having a “bad” knee prevents me to from street photography at this time., I get so much joy form candid shots. To capture the soul of a person in portrait photography would be so deeply satisfying.

Deleted Account's picture

As I've hit the aches of my mid-50s... my own body becomes part of equipment maintenance. I can relate to the knee thing. :)

Studio 403's picture

As the younger folks say, “I feel you”. I doubt they can feel me, I know I did not when I was 22. Now 73. Wisdom and pain are good teachers. Thanks for the shout out. The phrase from a former mentor told me, “Ken what is the hurry” has added meaning today.

Deleted Account's picture

You're welcome. I was awaiting a PT appt. when I saw your post. Who knew the hip bursa was even a thing? Fortunately... my doctor did. Mobility is so taken for granted.

I was collected for my appt. along with a gentleman about 30 yrs my senior... low and slow he was... humbling to share his "what's the hurry" pace. Oh the learning journey I'm on. :)

I'm with you man! I messed up my back this last week which totally messed up my original project idea which would have required quite a bit of hiking.

Deleted Account's picture

I try to live by... everything happens for a reason. But it still sucks when the long planned project gets benched.

Chris Eyre-Walker's picture

Thanks for sharing Mike!

Thanks for the great video!

Alex Cruise's picture

I enjoyed reading the article and absolutely loved the video!