The Eyes - Windows to the Soul
Even at a distance, occupying a small part of a larger scene, a face is like a beacon for the viewer's attention. The face is a natural focus of interest, especially when directed towards the camera. And, while body language and gesture are important elements in story telling, it is to the face, particularly the eyes wherewe look in order to discover a sense of someone's personality, thought's and intentions.
It is the face, often isolated from its surroundings, which can make the most compelling portrait. Intuitively drawn towards the face the photographer uses light, critical focusing, shallow Depth Of Field (DOF) and composition (placement of the eyes within the frame) to highlight the eyes and make them the main focal points of image.
In photography light comes first. In portrait photography, except for a deliberate silhouette, you need to ensure that the face is lit. But what sort of light is most appropriate to your desired outcome?