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    • I was filming a family photographer on the job and noticed that almost all the shots people wanted to place on their mantles and Christmas cards were in beautiful settings with beautiful clothes and beautiful smiles.

      And yet I like to follow Robert Bagg's Pinterest boards for portraits that catch his eye. They are not smiling people in their Sunday best, but I love them and get so bored of Christmas card photos. You? Doesn't a photo like this reveal so much more interestingness about a person?

    • I prefer the realistic environmental portraits rather than the shiny posed shots often shown. The environmental portraits are often shot on location of the subjects normal day to day life, so lighting is often a bit harder to work, but the results are worth it if you work the scene.

    • I think it depends on the nature of the photo's final purpose. If it's for a book, a magazine, or a documentary, I think people are more willing to embrace nontraditional photography, versus photos for a mantelpiece or a holiday greeting, in which case they want more timeless, traditional treatment. Or if it's a selfie!

    • I agree with @Victoria Is the photo to capture their likeness or their essence? Are you shooting for editorial purpose, creative, or narrative? A true "portrait" will tell me what to expect if I were to meet that person. A photograph only tells me what they look like; which is good for a Christmas card but not much else.

    • I may be wrong but think it's about being able to "read" expressions, surroundings and the picture. And if the photographer meant something when they took the picture.

    • Brian Strong

      Personally, I don't like taking portraits. No matter what, the expressions always come across as having some staged element to them. This may not apply to kids though. Their smiles usually feel more real to me. Maybe it's their innocence.

      I've been a second shooter for a few weddings and usually the best photos are ones that I take during the in-between moments-- when the couple isn't worrying about the camera.

      At home I prefer candid shots of normal everyday life. Maybe it's because when I look at the photos, it gives me a better sense of being "there". The smiles (or frowns) are 100% genuine.