From the Archive


Focus on Portraiture

PDN subscribers have access to our archive of stories that discuss how photographers light and direct subjects to create compelling portraits regardless of the location and time constraints.

How Celebrity Portrait Photographers Beat the Clock
Time is the enemy on the set of a celebrity portrait shoot. Celebrities are pressed for time, and in a hurry to leave. Photographers compete for time with other photographers, especially during hotel press junkets, and with reporters interviewing celebrities for stories. It puts photographers under pressure to make compelling portraits in a big hurry. Strategies for pulling it off range from conceptualizing, scouting and styling in advance, to getting celebrities and their publicists on board with ideas before the shoot, to building rapport and taking control of the shoot within minutes. We talked to several experienced celebrity photographers about how they manage time constraints. Here’s what they told us.

How to Get the Best from Portrait Subjects
Four photographers—Josh Wool, photojournalist Pieter Ten Hoopen, Michael Grecco and Frances F. Denny—explain how they connect with their subjects to produce compelling portraits.

Mary Ellen Mark: On Portraiture and the Moment
In her 40-year career, pioneering photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark made numerous portraits of celebrities, artists, film directors and the ordinary people whose lives she documented intimately. In her book Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment, Part of Aperture’s Photography Workshop Series, she distilled some of the advice that she shared with her students over the years about working with portrait subjects. Follow the link to read highlights from that book.

How I Got That Shot: A Downton Abbey Group Portrait, In Camera
Individual celebrity portraits are difficult, but Jesse Dittmar’s assignment to shoot a group portrait of Downton Abbey cast members and producers for The New York Times took the difficulties to another level. Dittmar had a limited budget, a challenging location, and about five minutes to wrangle 11 subjects at once.