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A fine Art Portrait in the making...

What is the difference for me between a "regular" portrait and a "fine art" one?


Not the quality, just a different concept.


A "regular" portrait, for me, would be either a spontaneous, lifestyle portrait, or a portrait taken during a photography session (therefore among multiple other shots), something that would be in the concept of a family session for example, with little pre- shoot work (choosing the location, time, and eventually wardrobe, but that's pretty much it), and simple post-processing (light adjustments, contrast, sharpening, ... ) and usually no major photoshop work. I like those portraits to be as natural as possible.


A "fine-art" portrait, for me, would be more about a concept, about creativity. The final product would be one (two eventually) shots. There is a pre-shoot work of thinking about a theme, background, props, ... And after the shooting itself I would do more post-editing, as I would not be looking for realistic / natural look anymore.


Today, I will walk you around the making of my latest fine art portrait.


My idea was to create a series of children portraits that without even really focusing on the face will translate the character of each child.

Like usual in my photography work, I was looking for simplicity: a simple background, just a couple of props representing something the child likes, and the great thing is that it does not have to be real, it can represent a favorite character, a dream for their future life, ...


So, first I sat down with a couple of blank sheet of papers and a crayon and started writing down keywords for each one of them (favorite colours, some personality traits, hobbys, dreams, ...), and then sketching ideas...

So here is for example my first sketch (and yes, I know my drawing skills are horrifying!! ), but you get the idea. I wanted my little girl to be standing up, facing the backdrop, with a violin in her hands in her back (she does not really play but loves music). I wanted something very soft, with in my mind something a little inspired by Degas's paintings in the way she will pose. I wanted her hair just gently tight in the back, and music sheets next to her on the right, with the light coming from the upper left.




And I kew that I will want all the other portraits of this series to be of the same model. Same background, same type of pose, same type of light, and the few props on the right side. I also new that I will use a dark backdrop (to be specific my thunder grey one) and that I will add texture in post-processing to go back to the painterly idea.


Like often, things did not go exactly as planned and I had to make adjustments. The strobe I was planning to use on the upper left did not work as I wanted to (I could not orientate it as much as I wanted) so I decided to use window light instead, and to worry about the rest in post-processing (knowing that I add on hand a willing model with quite a short patience spam ;-)).


Once satisfied with the light and the positioning of the props, we tried the poses I was originally thinking of, with several little adjustments.




The next time phase was routine photographer's job (for me with Lightroom): transferring the pictures to the computer, sorting them, during a few batch adjustments (exposure, noise reduction).


And then photoshop for the post-processing of my final 2 pictures: extending the backdrop, adding some light on her hair, adjusting a little the colours, working on the curves, adding a vignette effect (darkening a little the corners of the image), and adding a texture on the image.

(I was originally planning on having only one image, but could not choose between those two, so I kept them both :-)).







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