Photography: Is it a picture or a portrait?

What is the difference between a picture of a person and a portrait? I have heard this asked by many different people, and in fact I have asked the same question. Well let’s break it down… The dictionary states a picture is “a visual representation of a person… ” and a portrait is “a likeness of a person” so in all honesty it can be the same thing. So the thought is, as a photographer what is my difference between a picture and a portrait?

It’s simple for me… It’s all in the eye of the photographer. What I see as a gorgeous portrait might be a simple picture to others. That is the greatness of photography. Every one has their own thoughts about what is amazing and what is average. There is not a set guideline… this is this and that is that. Here is the line. For me, my line is all in my head. If I look through my lens and see something that is ideal but I can’t get the same results from my camera, then it is just a picture, but if I can bring out the wow factor (in my humble opinion) then it is a portrait. I love to use natural light and blur to make that change from picture to portrait and even then it is not always the same. I know this doesn’t narrow down the debate but it is how I see it and will be different for each photographer.

So the question is, as a photographer what makes a picture a portrait? Is it editing? Is it light and shadow? Is it years of experience? Do you have different techniques that you use to make it a portrait? Please discuss it in the comments

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