As a photographer for the past 20 years I feel like portrait photography is something that has evolved into something that is a direct reflection of who I am. One thing I’ve realized through the years is that these moments I share with a subject span across the entire human emotional spectrum. I’ve captured sheer happiness and joy along with sadness brought on by the death of loved ones.
I’ve also witnessed insanity.
“Even though a camera creates a barrier between you and your surroundings it won’t hide you from what emotional energy is present.” KLP
The scope and body of work that I am going to share below is a collection of photographs that in a sense has defined who I am today. To me Portrait Photography is a form of interaction that we can have with another person whether it is planned or it is a completely spontaneous moment. To me in the beginning taking a portrait of someone was scary. At first it felt as if I was invading someone’s space and disrespecting them but I soon realized that wasn’t true at all. We all have something to share. If we sit, listen and give our time to hear what others have to say you’d be surprised how good it feels.
MY PROCESS AS A PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER
Yes I am a Seattle portrait photographer. It’s safe to say this word as I did in fact grow up in Seattle Washington. I started taking photographs when I was 15 years old. It’s kinda of crazy to say that now. All the way back in the 90’s!!! I began using black and white film and developed all of my images at my high school.
Soon enough I started to explore the city and document what I saw in Seattle.
STREET PHOTOGRAPHY: THE FOUNDATION TO PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY
My early education about photography was about the founding photographers who started the photojournalism movement. These individuals then went on to form Magnum. Robert Capa, Bruce Davidson, and the famed Henri Cartier Bresson were among some of the photographers I admired and found inspiration from.
These photographers created street photography which ultimately helped create the foundation for my photography. This early influence from these photographers helped me start seeing the world in a different way.
I began to see form and composition coming together as I walked around the streets. Much like painting to create a photograph elements of the paintbrush and canvas boarder along side this medium. You’ve probably heard the term, “painting with light” when describing how a photographer takes a photograph.
The way the light would interact with objects creating something that would ultimately grab my attention deeming a moment to capture.
I want to start in the beginning when I became a photographer at 15 and share images that I took that helped shape me into the portrait photographer that I am today.
This is something that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time now. The photographs that I will be sharing will be spread out across my 20+ years as a Seattle Portrait Photographer.
These moments have helped me evolve as an artist and as a human.
Unkown homeless man, This image was taken near the old Kingdom stadium in downtown Seattle, 1998. Camera – Yashika, 50mm lens
Here Are the Types of Portrait Photography You Should Know About
As a Seattle Portrait Photographer too often, memories of people we love are relegated to school photos, casual snapshots, “selfies,” or inexpensive department store photo packages shot in markedly artificial and brightly lit settings. Better than nothing, these photos mark the passage of time and stages of growth, but only rarely do they produce a real treasure.
Every family can benefit from thoughtful and artistically composed portraits of family members, together and separately. Such photos are an investment in your memories, and will be treasured for years to come. To determine the best setting and portrait type for you or your family, Kyle will help you plan the photo session and choose an appropriate environment or a favorite locale for the shoot.
The first thing to understand are the different types (sub-genres) of Portrait Photography:
Traditional Photo Portraits
Traditional Photo Portraits usually depict a subject, carefully posed by the photographer to help them appear their best, looking directly into the camera.
These photos are most often taken in the studio, utilizing a choice of photography backdrops. The image is usually cropped at the shoulders. A formal business portrait may show just one individual, or can be taken together with a business partner or associate, posed with one person standing and the other seated in an office or library setting.
The Traditional Portrait genre remains popular because, generally speaking, the pose and lighting are flattering. A posed “formal” Traditional Portrait differs from a “casual” one whenever the attire, poses, and studio backdrops are less relaxed, “proper” and restrictive.
Couple, Family and Group Portraits
Perhaps the most popular type of photographic portraiture depicts couples and families, siblings, family gatherings, and even business or social groups. Yes, even large group shots can be considered portraits! The key in Couple, Family, and Group Portraits is to bring out associations between people and highlight the nature of their relationships.
Sometimes a special occasion is the reason behind the multi-subject portrait, like an anniversary, a special birthday, or graduation, Bat or Bar Mitzvah, first communion or confirmation.
Weddings are a special area of this genre, and require expertise that Kyle Larson Photography is noted for, along with his Travel and Portrait Photography. Virtually all genres of photography can be used to create stunning portraits to last a lifetime.
More challenging than photographing a single individual, Couple, Family and Group Portrait shoots mean there are more people to organize, to pose together attractively, and to elicit interactions between group members. But this extra effort gives group shots a vitality that is sometimes difficult to capture with a solo portrait. Multi-subject portraiture may fall into any of the sub-genres that follow.
Lifestyle portraiture is an extremely popular sub-genre for Couple, Family, or Group Portraits, and should be considered when planning this kind of photo event.
The complete opposite of Traditional portraiture, Lifestyle Portraits depict couples, groups or families in their customary environments, or interacting casually in an outdoor setting. Activities involve doing ordinary, everyday things together. When clients select a Lifestyle photography session, they seek touching memories that will forever recall familiar and important interactions between them.
Photographing subjects in a familiar environment, such as their home, permits this type of portraiture to be relatively unposed. Within the limited time frame of the portrait appointment, the subjects may suggest, or the photographer may otherwise guide them in simple interactions or activities that focus on capturing the relationships between them. Subtle direction is an effective tool to involve Lifestyle Portrait subjects with one another in a manner that helps them forget they’re being photographed.
The Environmental Portrait is a blend of both Traditional Portrait photography and Lifestyle portraiture. However, in Environmental Portrait Photography, the setting or environment shares billing with a person’s image. The location for this type of portrait is usually a place of significance to the particular individual, group or family.
Unlike Lifestyle portraiture, Environmental Portraits afford the photographer far more creative opportunities, and encourage the use of relaxed posing techniques for maximum effect. Lighting, pose, personality and the chosen environment all work in unison to achieve a desired impact in an Environmental Portrait.
Fine Art Portraits
A Fine Art Portrait is often inspired by other forms of artwork, and may incorporate historic or mythological themes. Some Fine Art Portrait photographers. for example, will take inspiration from Flemish or Renaissance paintings. Others wax truly creative, using wardrobe and makeup, specific poses and photo editing to achieve the allegorical results they desire, while still others unleash their creativity by producing Fine Art Portraits that also encompass Conceptual and Surreal Portrait elements.
Conceptual Portraits are considered a type of Fine Art portraiture, intended to capture a specific idea or concept within the portrait image. The Conceptual Portrait is a photographic sub-genre that often uses props, extraordinary settings, costuming, and various photographic editing techniques to achieve a particular vision, or express an artistic, historical or philosophical concept.
With Conceptual Portrait photography, the possibilities are endless. Anything goes: Levitation, manipulation of perspectives, fantastical costuming, makeup or wardrobe tricks, plus Photoshop (and more) are all part of this freewheeling and unique genre
WHAT’S YOUR STYLE? TELL KYLE!
A final step before scheduling the date and time of your exclusive Portrait Photography Shoot with Kyle is to select a setting or environment as background. If you do not have a site in mind, here are a few of Kyle’s favorites:
Seattle Portrait Photography and Portrait Settings:
Pike Place Market Street musicians, produce vendors, and boisterous fishmongers at Pike Place Market create a feast for the senses.
Seattle Center and the Space Needle Ride the elevator to the top of Seattle’s Space Needle for a panoramic view of the city.
Seattle Waterfront A number of spots along the Seattle waterfront offer some extraordinary city views. Was On rainy days, great opportunities to capture a reflection portrait in one of the many puddles.
West Seattle Another panoramic skyline view is available in West Seattle, across Elliot Bay from downtown. Take a water taxi to Seacrest Park – a perfect place to catch the sun rising behind the city or, at night, reflections of city lights on Elliot Bay.
Interested in a beach photo session? Continue down Harbor Avenue to laid-back Alki Beach, with its expansive view of Elliott Bay and the Olympic mountains. In fall and winter you’ll often have the beach to yourself.
Kerry Park & Queen Anne With a perfect view of Seattle, the Space Needle front and center, and (on a clear day) Mt. Rainier visible in the background, Kerry Park is a magnificent setting. This park can be crowded, so it’s definitely worth getting there early.
Fremont Fremont, on the other side of Queen Anne, has a quirky, colorful, bohemian vibe; or stroll along the Burke-Gilman trail that runs along the ship canal. Either provides great surroundings for Lifestyle or Environmental Portraits.
Ballard & Golden Gardens Once a Scandinavian fishing community, Ballard is now a popular neighborhood. Walk along NW Market Street and Ballard Avenue, or catch the Farmers Market on Sunday. Nearby, Chittenden Locks connect Lake Washington to Puget Sound. You can capture images of wildlife such as blue herons, sea lions, or an occasional whale. Golden Gardens, which offers amazing views of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains, is also nearby.
University of Washington & Gasworks Park The University campus sits on the shores of Union and Portage Bays and is incredibly beautiful, with views of Mt. Rainier, plus the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. Spring heralds extraordinary cherry blossoms, and fall colors are glorious. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent canoes or rowboats for an Environmental Portrait shoot.
West of the UW campus is Gas Works Park. A unique park where a renovated historic coal gasification plant dominates the landscape with vivid colors. At night the skyline view offers beautiful reflections on Lake Union, or Kyle can capture your portrait(s) in silhouette at the top of Kite Hill.
Columbia Tower Sky-View Observatory (Downtown) Want 360-degree panoramic views and breath-taking portrait backgrounds? Plan your shoot at the Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor of the tallest building in Seattle: Columbia Center. The view takes in Mt. Rainier, Bellevue, Mt. Baker, the Cascade Mountains, Elliot Bay, the Olympic Mountains, plus the Space Needle and the entire city of Seattle. Wow! Just wow!
Bainbridge Island The Bainbridge Island Ferry offers an easy day trip to the island for a family photo shoot. The ferry ride is a marvelous way to permanently experience Seattle’s stunning scenery as background. Winslow, the downtown area, is quite walkable, and may add atmosphere for group photos.
“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.
— Robert Frank
“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
— Paul Caponigro
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
— Dorothea Lange