The world is flooded with technically good portraiture.
Only a few things can really separates the better images from the rest. As photographers we spend an awfully long time trying to make sure we have good lighting, good focus and good editing. This is fine.
Imagine a book full of portraits, you flick through them, what makes you stop. A few things potentially could, lets say a pretty or handsome face, but for now assume everyone in the portraits is good-looking or has an interesting face. The difference is a mood or an attitude. Something that makes us stop and feel something. It could be in the eyes or facial expression.
Often this is combined with a lighting that lifts the whole picture. The lighting could be moody or bright but it fits the model. On top of that the colour or black and white conversion has to fit. But most important is that we feel that connection with the subject. Something in the attitude and mood of the image makes us stop and feel like the subject has character.
A test you can do is pick a celebrity that you like or follow and google image search them. Then as you look over the page of thumbnails see which images make you stop for a second look. Ask yourself what is it about this image that made you stop. Then repeat as many times as you like. What will start to emerge is the style of imagery that appeals to you inherently. Not only that you are finding and analyzing images that have the impact of a good image.
Now have a look over the images you ignored. We often find that the images we ignored were simply lacking in any connection of feeling or mood. They didn’t say anything so we paid no attention. Ask yourself is your work really communicating or is it simply repeating a basic formula of lighting and posing. Chances are if you aren’t expressing anything in your work then no one will pay attention to it. In order to progress we often have to think more about what we are producing. This doesn’t mean we have to do something new or ground breaking. Often the difference between an image that people want to look at isn’t huge on paper. It can literally just be a look, the way they look at you.
When you make images in future try to keep these ideas in mind and let them shape your work. This isnt to say that every image will be outstanding, but its important to try to not be part of the ignored.