what you can do to ensure a great portrait

What Makes a Great Portrait

What makes a great portrait?  Although the subject of the portrait is the most important component, the way the subject is lit, placed in the frame and composed are major factors that go into making a portrait great.  Clothing and expression can be added to those components.  The role of the photographer is to arrange the subjects in a pleasing and interesting way so the image has a quality that will elicite a timeless emotional response.   The role of the subject is to dress in clothes that complement the background that has been mutually chosen between the subject and the photographer.  There are three types of photographs.  Low key, High key and Mid key.


High key is generally a lighter background  where the subject is the darkest object in the image.  


Low Key is the opposite of high key and is where the subject is the lightest object in the image. 


Mid Key is where the background and the subjects are close to the same intensity of brightness.  


The clothes can make or break a great portrait.  In a high key portrait. Clothes close to the face should be lighter than the skin.  In low key portraits all the clothes in the photograph should be darker than the face.  In mid key portraits the clothes should be close in brightness compared to the face.  


Consideration should be given to how much of the body is included in the portrait.  If the face is the most important, then a head and shoulder portrait is appropriate.  When larger groups are photographed, it is sometimes not possible to get close and a full body is a must.  When possible however, the closer the portrait the better.


clothing to avoid...

bright or patterned clothes

text or graphics on clothing

sleeveless tops


The subject is the most important element in the photograph and the clothing you chose should take a back seat to the subject unless the clothing is  an integral part of the portrait . Examples would be a cowboy or performer or athlete.  In most cases, however, clothing should not distract from the subjects face.   Solid jewel toned long sleeve shirts are ideal.


Background colours can very from black to white with all shades in between.  The basic rule is to allow the subject to be the first thing the viewer sees in the portrait.  On a white or lighter backgrounds, clothing lighter than the subjects face, generally work well.


On a black or darker backgrounds clothes darker than the face are best.  Contrasty patterns, text. logos or other eye catching designs tend to distract the viewer from the face of the subject.  These types of clothes should be avoided.


Details on printing...


All portraits over the size of 11x14 are laminated to protect them from fading and air-borne contaminants.  When laminated, the images do not require glass and can be viewed without glare.  A damp cloth for dusting and cleaning will not harm the surface of a laminated print. We offer several types of finishing.  Traditional is the laminated print.  The gallery wrap is a contemporary finishing that is very popular.  This type of finishing is slightly more in price, however, the savings are realized when no framing is required to purchase.  

Make Up A Natural Look

Lips

Lips look great with a subtle sheen but shouldn’t appear wet. In your portrait, stick with a matte lipstick or low-sheen gloss.  

Your lipstick should add contrast to the lips and a pop of colour to the photograph.

Skin

The day of your shoot, don't be tempted to over apply makeup.  We recommend that you wear the same amount of make-up as usual or even slightly less.  Bring your makeup to the shoot with you in case you need to do touch ups.    


Our enhanced editing will remove hard to conceal blemishes so don't worry about last minute scratches or bruises or a nasty pimple.  Our enhancements will "polish" your skin.

Clothing and accessories

Co-ordinating Groups

If doing a family portrait, you’ll want to coordinate everyone’s clothing to avoid a visual train wreck of clashing patterns and colours.


Matching outfits are a nice idea, as is a more subtle, coordinating colour theme.  Choose individual pieces that go well together in a specific colour palette.


Jewelery and Accessories


Simple is best.  The accessories and jewelry should flatter the subject, not demand attention. Unless it is essential in the portrait, it's something you wear all the time, or has special meaning, leave it out. If it is important to you or plays an integral part of your life, talk with your photographer about how to include it in some of your portraits.