What factors go into making a great portrait? These are the obvious ones:
1) The gear (required unless you want to pretend)
2) A subject
3) The technical knowledge of "how-to" with a camera
4) The lighting (more technical "how-to")
5) The post processing (more technical "how-to")
6) The presentation (marketing "how-to")
Gear, without it, we can only imagine or pretend.
Sporting the Think Tank gear now! Great stuff.
A subject, more interesting, usually than shooting a mannequin. Without a subject, meaning a person, or couple or group or whatever, something alive, then we are just shooting objects. Some objects are pretty, like mountains, rivers, lakes, or cities, and on. But shooting a "subject" doesn't make anything great.
The technical knowledge of knowing how to take what you've envisioned and "make it" with your tool (camera). This is an important part of the "creating a great portrait" factor. Without knowing this, you are just guessing or relying on other things.
Lighting! Yes, this is a branch of the "how-to" of technical knowledge that has the aim of contributing toward what you've envisioned. If you imagined it, then it has light in it because what you see is light reflected off of multiple surfaces back to you. That's what visibility is. So knowing where to set up lights, how to adjust them, all that jazz is great and often crucial to making something great, though ANY light properly used can serve, even the sun or light from an overcast day.
Post processing, one of my weakest components, by choice. I can post process (a little) but I grew up in film where the option of Photoshop was not a factor. My eyes grew up with the "rawness" of the image as it was from shooting it. But today my eyes are a little different. I never get into retouching to make an "all-digital, not at all possible without photoshop" image, UNLESS it serves the purpose. That's not my thing. Post processing though, and your knowledge of it, serves one purpose: To finalize your vision of a portrait you captured. Way back in the imagination process, you imagined an image in your head and post processing was part of it.
The presentation. This is often an overlooked aspect because I've seen a lot of great images thrown onto various websites in a hap-hazard way without any real continuity or in an over-crowded situation where the brain is overloaded from 30 other images right next to it. My website changes every few months to a year because I am ALWAYS working to find new ways of being "minimalist" so that you can appreciate 1 image by itself. Poor presentation can detract from your art in the sense that your viewers are not "getting it" as they should. This concept is equally important for businesses in developing websites.
These are the most obvious points. What else is there? Well, there is more and they are to me, more important than the above in their own way. True what I will lay out in the next journal entry are things that are not possible to capture without "gear" or "lighting" or "post processing" but they are the soul components of great portraits.