Robert K Braggs is the creator and creative voice behind Acufocal, “a site dedicated to fashion, style and photography with a particular interest in portraiture and fashion photography.”

You can find out more about Acufocal or follow his much-loved “portrait of the day” feature by visiting the Acufocal website and Facebook Page.

Few love stories start with impulse purchases off of eBay, but this one does. I drunkenly purchased a DSLR on a whim one cold night, primarily out of boredom. A week later I was eagerly looking at the world through a viewfinder, whether I had my camera with me or not.

Finding 500px was one of the fundamental reasons that my love for photography became more specialized. The quality of images was (and is) astounding, and it wasn’t long before I was spending at least an hour a day browsing portraits. It started as a passion I indulged and ended up as an obsession I obeyed. My addiction quickly grew and I became frustrated. I couldn’t find one place with behind-the-scenes videos of photo shoots, articles on portraiture and interviews with portrait photographers to run parallel with 500px’s wealth of great images; so I made one.

Acufocal is a website dedicated to fashion photography and portraiture and I’ve seen its traffic steadily but surely grow, which tells me that I’m not alone in my obsession for portraits. One of the most popular aspects of Acufocal is my ‘portrait of the day’ of which there have now been well over 600. Every one of these images has been taken from 500px photographers and so after speaking with 500px, I’ve decided to do my all-time top 20. I should add, these are in no particular order.

I find black and white portraits are incredibly difficult to make as engaging as their colour counterparts, but this image locks you in to it immediately.

This image really pops. I would say that’s initially because of the use of complimentary colours but the garments, the movement and the form are what hold your attention.

Texture, texture, texture! This image is so perfectly lit and processed that you can clearly imagine the feel of his skin. Great texture in a portrait is something that tends to hold the attention of the audience.

A portrait with character is very desirable but it can be a confusing element to know how to implement it in to your image. If I ever need an example of character in a portrait, however, this is my go-to image.

Ok, so, we’ve had texture, colour, light and character. Now it’s time for tones. This image is delicious. There’s no better adjective and I can’t elucidate it any further.

Depth of field can be a tricky beast but when it’s very narrow it can be so alluring. I suspect this image is f/1.2 or f/1.4 and out of the entire frame only her right eye and a few strands of hair are in focus, yet it just works; it’s beautiful.

This shot has it all. The subject is about as interesting as subjects get, the light is stunning, the composition is superb and the man essentially pops out of the screen.

Quaint seems an odd word to describe a photo but Emily Soto’s entire portfolio is beautifully quaint and this picture encapsulates her style for me.

If you remember an image, the image has something. This is a recent image but one that I know is going to stick with me.

Perhaps the simplest image in this list but by no means any less worthy of its inclusion. This wouldn’t have looked out of place in David Bailey’s Stardust exhibition.

This portrait makes the list as much for the incredible make-up artist(s) and hair stylist(s) as the photographer. The amount of work that went in to the creation of this image is evidently enormous and it has paid off.

Jake has some lovely warm images but this is my favourite of his. It’s so unusual and utterly captivating; it could be a still from a film.

I could do a top 20 of Dani Diamond images alone. Without question one of my favourite photographers. He is a master of natural light and micro expressions. Those eyes could change your mind about anything.

This is another image that combines tones, textures and poses perfectly.

I’d be hard-pushed to find something I don’t like about this image! It should be creepy but instead it’s soft and vulnerable. It’s hard to use the word ‘juxtaposition’ when describing art without seeming insufferably pompous, so I won’t.

I instantaneously loved this image. Sean is one of the two 500px photographers I regard as ‘master of the studio’ and the other photographer is up next.

There’s very little I wish to say about this image as it’s simply flawless. The light and post-processing is awe inspiring.

Photographers spend their careers trying to develop a ‘style’. To have people recognise a new image is yours without even checking who took it can be the mark of a top photographer and Elena has managed just that.

No 500px top 20 of portraits would be complete without a shot from Lee Jeffries. He has a unique and powerful style that produces captivating images by the dozen.

Beautiful earthy tones and the perfect crop – I love this image.

I could easily do another Top 20 and I suspect there will be comments or thoughts along the lines of “I can’t believe you left this image out!” Well, I can’t believe it either. Let me know though and if I do a part 2, perhaps it will feature.

I would also like to point out that I am fully aware of the subject gender bias in this top 20, but unfortunately it’s merely a reflection of the subject gender bias in portraiture.

Which is your favourite portrait? If it’s not in this list, post it in the comments!