Connection is the first step. Out in the real world you find people who look interesting to you. But that's not enough. You then have to engage with them and convince them to be a part of your project. Which then because "our" project. Connection can be tough because it can cause you to need to step out of your comfort zone, out of your neighborhood and out of your demographic. You have to approach the person for whom you feel the connection. There is a very big (and ego deflating) possibility that they will turn you down. Then you have to move on to the next person with whom you feel a connection. It's a process.
Once you've made a connection you have to bring them into the realm of your ideas. Your vision. In making them an ally you may need to compromise. You give. They give. They try your idea and you try theirs. By working and sharing over time you can create an understanding and unspoken agreement that makes the process of creation flow.
The creation is the process of making the ideas real and tangible. The creation of a portrait is about lighting matching mood which matches pose which matches props and costumes. It's the process of working together until the expression is just as you imagined it would be when you started the collaboration. The light is important. The emotions are important. The camera is less important.
You have to capture the essence of your ideas and visions during this phase because you really can't fix much after the fact. Unless you decide to become an illustrator.
The realization is everything above with the added ingredient of editing. And by editing we mean choosing just the right image from everything you've created together. First you find the image that most closely matches the best outcome of your initial concept and work and then you distill it down by working with the file until it fits happily into or onto the medium you want to use to share the image with your audience. It can be different if the images is destined for a print than if it is destined to be viewed on a small screen. But the medium must be conducive to sharing. Both your connection and your realization will be examined via whatever avenue you choose. A big print demands quality. A small image demands impact. There is a sliding scale of subtlety and nuance.
Finally you get to share. What you are asking your audience to do is to step into your shoes and see a person as you see them. Or as you and the subject both saw the subject in collaboration.
What do you hope to get when you share? Insight into how different everyone's ideas of portraiture are. How different we are when it comes to selecting our collaborative partners. How different our engagements. And how much alike we are when confronted by one or another idea of what is beauty.
I think the person in the image is very beautiful. I want to share my feeling that there is beauty everywhere for us to find. Happily, what is beautiful is subjective. Sadly, what is beauty is subjective.