The thing is, I respectfully differ with a lot of people about what a portrait is "supposed" to do, and I think it's possible that you do too. As a dedicated portrait photographer, don't you feel like there's a certain slippery "something" that some portraits have and others don't, that makes them seem inhabited by the character of the subject rather than just being another photo with a person in it?99.99% of people don't care what is under the hood of their car. As long as it get the results they want. A lot of people here are like a bunch of mechanics obsessing over the engines and wondering why people don't care. Sorry they don't. They just want their car to do what a car is supposed to do.
My clients just want what a portrait is supposed to do.
But a lot of viewers don't make that distinction, right? They're the ones happily patronizing the low-end "good enough" portrait studios. And more power to them for being happy, I guess, but if you really have the equanimity not to wish there were more people who wanted to really *look* at the portraits, you're doing better at equanimity than I am. To your credit, probably.
The cars are a good analogy, I think. Most people consider that what a car is "supposed to do" is get you and your stuff from point A to point B. Some people think it should be fun to drive while it's doing it, and they go around wondering why so many people are happy with their Camrys, and starting threads with titles like "Can people appreciate drivability and road feedback in an automatic transmission age?", I suppose.