Portrait photograpy is the art of capturing human faces in a number of situations and capturing a variety of emotions. The whole idea is to adequately capture the personality of the subject as well as their image. Portrait photography doesn't have to be restricted to the studio either, as many people wish their portraits to be shot on location or in their own homes as well as the the traditional studio setup. Plus, one less glamourous aspect of portrait photography is for pictures used on official documents such as passports and the like.
With portrait style photography, the emphasis is very much on the subject themselves rather than the backdrop, but this doesn't mean that you cannot be creative with the composition of each shot. After all, we've all seen those rigid, awkward portraits with cheap backgrounds where the subject is sat staring at the lens and wishing for it all to be over.
Creative portrait photography can capture so much more of a person's personality if you are able to have them acting naturally, interacting with the other people in the image or simply in a more relaxed state than the regular sort of pictures you see people having taken. One of the most important elements of portrait based photography is the lighting, which is something that you really can't skimp on when buying your photographic equipment.
Adequate lighting is the key to making your images look professional- it's not just about the camera! Aim for soft and off-camera lighting, and be sure that shadows are eliminated.
When shooting outdoors, be sure that you have an electronic flash and a reflector at hand in your portrait photography arsenal. Above all, portrait photography is the practice of capturing a moment in an individual's life, and once you have got their personality shining through, your work is much easier to do well.