In today’s world, a portrait is often thought of as a professional headshot. The professional commissions a professional photographer to take their portrait, and then they use the portrait images for marketing, social media, or public relations purposes.

In the past, portraits symbolized many things. A portrait might be a symbol of status, wealth, or power. It could be a symbol of love or family. A portrait might also be a symbol of death, as in the case of a memorial portrait. In some cases, a portrait can even be a symbol of religious faith such as the iconic portrait of Jesus Christ or the sculpture of Buddha.

Different forms of portraits may include:

A portrait often symbolizes remembrance. It can commemorate a person or event and serve as a physical embodiment of cherished memories or accomplished moments.

Sometimes, portraits may even be used as propaganda to convey a specific message or image. For example, with a portrait done by a caricature artist, a politician may commission a painting that skews their features in a way that makes them look more favorable to the public.

On the other hand, opposing journalists have been known to create caricature satirical portraits to make the same politician look foolish. In either case, the portrait symbolizes the artist’s view of the subject.

Caricatures first became a popular genre of fine art in the 16th and 17th centuries. Satirists created them to ridicule public figures and politicians (a caricature with a moral message is considered a satire). In the 18th century, French artist Honoré Daumier was known for his political caricatures of King Louis-Philippe.

Another way that portraits can act as symbols is by representing an ideal. This is often seen in religious portraiture, where saints and other holy figures are depicted in an idealized light. The same can be said of royal portraits, which often depict the rulers as perfect and regal. In both cases, the portraits remind viewers of the ideals these figures represent.

Ultimately, a portrait can symbolize anything that its creator intends it to. A portrait can be a powerful symbol with various meanings, whether meant to commemorate, idealize, or caricature its subject.

What are the types of portraits in art?

As already mentioned, there are many different types of portraits, each with its unique purpose and meaning. Some of the most common types of portraits include:

  • Traditional
  • Candid
  • Lifestyle
  • Glamour
  • Conceptual
  • Self-portraits (selfies)
  • Close-up
  • Group
  • Environmental
  • Animals/pets

Each type of portrait has its own unique style and purpose. Traditional portraits, for example, are often more formal in nature and may be used to symbolize things like power, wealth, or status. On the other hand, candid portraits tend to be more natural and relaxed. They may be used to capture a person’s true personality or to depict a more personal moment.

Self-portraits “selfies” are another type of portrait that has become increasingly popular recently, especially among Gen Y’s and Gen Z’s. As the name suggests, self-portraits are portraits created by the subjects. They can be used as a form of self-expression or as a way to document one’s life and journey on social media platforms like Snapchat or Instagram. Personally, I hate taking selfies. I don’t know if it’s that I’m “too old” as a Gen X’er or if my arms are not long enough, but I rarely get a flattering view of myself! I’ll leave it to the pros.

What is considered a lifestyle photo?

Lifestyle photography is a portrait photography style that aims to artistically capture real-life situations. The purpose of this type of photography is to share people’s stories through candid, unstaged scenes. Recently, we had the opportunity to photograph a global consulting and technology services company that serves enterprises in the US, Canada, Europe, and India.

As you might imagine, this group of engineers and tech folks tend to be more conservative and, generally speaking, “camera shy” overall. So, it is fun to get them to engage and let go during the lifestyle photoshoot to best represent their company’s character and culture.

Ultimately, from a professional digital marketing perspective, our goal was to capture their personality through lifestyle imagery. And we did just that. Now, we can better utilize these images in our digital marketing efforts with Google ads, social media ads and posts, quarterly newsletters, sales materials, print ads, etc. Heck, maybe even a billboard ad on the I94 freeway near the Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) to grab all those global travelers’ attention!  

Why is lifestyle imagery important?

Lifestyle photography is essential because it shows your products and services in a relatable situation. As a result, customers see beautiful images which help them imagine experiencing something similar. At the same time, you deliver key brand messages – something you can’t easily do when you take the in-house approach.

Digital marketing is about creating content (imagery, words, phrases, colors, etc.) that resonates with your target audience. To do this, we must understand what the demographic wants and how they want to see it. This is where lifestyle photography comes in. The images help capture the audience’s attention by showing your products and services in a relatable way.

Lifestyle photography is also a great way to show off company culture. This type of photography provides an opportunity to show potential customers what it’s like to work with you and what they can expect from your team.

At the end of the day, lifestyle photography is about creating captivating images to help you better connect with your targeted demographic.

What is the difference between a portrait and a headshot?

A portrait is a type of painting, photograph, or sculpture that depicts a person or group of people. A headshot is a specific type of portrait that focuses on the face of the subject. Headshots are often used in professional settings, such as for business cards, actors’ and musicians’ resumes, or on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook.

We also did headshots for that tech company. In the marketing industry, it is a good idea to have traditional headshots that focus on the face as well as ¾ shots that show the object from the waist up in a more of a “lifestyle” type of feel. For a company like this, we tried to portray them in a strong and confident yet approachable way. And, they did very well with this format rather than trying to get them to act “natural” in the lifestyle portrait approach.

What does a portrait symbolize?

In conclusion, a portrait, no matter its format, whether it is a clay sculpture, a drawn caricature for a uniquely creative portrait, or a photographed lifestyle image to increase your global reach, they are all used to symbolize many different things. It can be used to show a person’s physical appearance, capture a moment in time, or depict a more personal connection. The bottom line is they are used to document one’s life and journey. And we believe that everyone has a story worth sharing.