technician could be shown in the lab, dressed in a white jacket, with a microscope and test tubes on the
desk. Another example is a portrait of a soldier who has been given an award for outstanding
community service for participating in recycling efforts. The person may be shown surrounded by stacks
of recyclable materials.
(2) Informal vs. casual. Do not confuse "informal" portrait with "casual snapshot." The
individual will not necessarily be dressed in street clothes or performing some recreational activity.
Rather, he will be suitably attired and, once again, shown in a natural environment with props instead of
in the studio.
Subject Placement within the Viewing Frame.
You determine just how much of the subject to show in the picture by several factors. Generally
speaking, there are three standards: head and shoulders, three-quarter length, and full-length. These are
not meant to be exact measurements. For example, a head and shoulder photograph could show most of
the subject's chest or none of it.
Identification and formal portraits usually show only head and shoulders. This is because we recognize
people by their faces and because it is difficult to make a full-length picture look pleasing without any
detail in the background.
Informal portraits often are three-quarter or full-length photographs because it is easier to fit the proper
background into photographs showing more of the subject.
a. For identification portraits, the background should be plain white or neutral gray.
b. For formal portraits, use a plain white or neutral gray background. The background should
not have any pattern; on the other hand, though, a monotone is dull, uninteresting, and undesirable. You
can get around this contradiction of no pattern and no monotone by varying the brilliance of the
background. By properly positioning lights, you can produce an effect that will improve your portrait
without placing any detail in the background.
(1) The lightness or darkness of the background depends on the subject and his
clothing. You can add depth to a portrait by having distinct separation between subject and