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Creating Successful Photographs

Potrait photography does not always have to be cheesy school photos and families as most might think when the word "portrait" is brought up. It is used to express who that person is inside and capture what makes them special.

There are a few ways to spice up your typical portrait:

and Tonality

**NOTE: All photographs used in this tutorial were shot and retouched by myself


Of course the biggest feature of a portrait is your model! Working with models, especially inexperienced models can be difficult. You have to learn to direct them in a way that they will understand and bring out their personality at the same time. Most people don't realize it, but modeling is hard, you have to think about where your body is and what position you're in, and hold that position all while having the right expression on your face, even if you're uncomfortable.

The best way to photograph inexperienced models is to just talk to them, and not nececssarily about the shoot. Talk to them about their favorite band, or sport, get them talking about themselves and they'll start to feel more comfortable, and their personality will come through more. Try to capture candid shots of them laughing or looking at a loved one to show how they really are.

Another way to loosten up and nervous model is to give them a prop to play with, or make the set easier to interact with. You can also ask them to bring a selection of clothes to wear and have a stylist put some outfits together, (or do it yourself if you've got some fashion skills.) The better they look and the more they enjoy the experience, the better the photograph will come out.

Again, shooting models can be difficult, just try to be friendly and relax and they will eventually get the hang of it.


As I mentioned in my previous instructable, mood is a very important aspect of making a successful portrait. Mood can be created with lighting, the models expression and the setting of the photograph. As cheesy as it may sound, putting on a little "mood" music, may be helpful to bring out the idea you're going for and get your model to react to it appropriately.

Creating a Visual Theme

Creating a visual theme doesn't always mean you have to make your model wear a cowboy outfit or ride a horse or anything. It simply means that the visual tonality, mood and lighting of the photograph should all work together to match your model. A great way to make everything appear consistant is by using a color scheme to set the mood and give the viewer and overall sense of what they should be feeling.

If you're having problems figuring out what colors or tonalities you want to use in your photograph, consider the color wheel. Though the examples I have used here have a consistant color scheme within each one, don't be afraid to use opposites to make a statement.

For example: photographing a man wearing a blue or teal shirt and a red tie against a yellow or magenta wall can be a loud statement about their personality without looking mismatched. In the fashion industry, we call that "color blocking."

And remember, have fun!!


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