Picture the People in your Life


It has been my wonderful pleasure to meet and photograph the nicest people over the years. I am always on a quest to learn and grow in my photographic process. It truly is all about the journey and not the destination because you never stop learning in this business. When I approach portraiture I try to create portraits that are creative. I always try to strive for something different, maybe even unique if possible. I try to “previsualize” the end result. It doesn’t always happen but when it does it makes my heart sing!

Ansel Adams defined previsualization as, “The ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure.” I call this making an image instead of taking a picture.

We, as photographers, should spend as much time as needed to make our subject comfortable in front of the camera. A portrait should be a collaboration between the photographer and their subject. Connect, engage, relax….

That being said I’d like to share some tips I use for memorable images so that you can make your own. I like what the writer said, “Ideas are just collections of thoughts. Locations are just points on a map. What we do with those ideas when we get to those points on the map is what sets us apart from the rest of the pack.”

Interaction, connection and emotion are all strong elements of design.

Connect….share the love.

A Boy and His Chicken

Use the props and tools around you to make the setting more interesting. Find things to place your subject in, on, under, around, etc.

Concert at the Farm

Colors – use vibrant and contrasting colors to draw attention to parts of your subject.

Sitting Pretty

Rodeo Queen

Get serious…a smile isn’t always best.

Beautiful Ebony

Capture the moment, sometimes the best shots are when your subject isn’t looking. Catch them doing something they love.

Prairie Dance

Christmas Surprise

Motion brings another dimension to your images.

Fall Fun

Get up close and personal!

Capture the environment that is part of the person’s culture.

The Cowboy Way

Back-light, hair lights up like crazy when it’s back-lit, so if hair is a big part of your subject make it stand out by placing your subject between you and a light source.


Underexpose, a dominantly dark or low-key image will naturally draw your eyes to the lighter parts.

Wyoming Cowgirl

Overexpose, blowing out the highlights or making a high-key image makes a nice soft portrait with kind of a light airy feeling.

First Love

Use Photoshop or some type of editing software. If you’re good with post-processing and manipulations, use it to your advantage. Get crazy with the adjustments, try some new Photoshop techniques, and maybe even a composite image. The composite technique I used for the next two images is pretty simple:

1. Open your background image.

2. Then go to the image you want to place into the first image and make a selection using the Elliptical Marquee Tool, I usually choose the oval shape.

3. Click on refine edge and change the feather to about 80 or so, click ok.

4. Copy and Paste your selection into the background image, use the move tool to place the selection properly, then add a layer mask and brush around the edges with a lower opacity to blend, then change the opacity of that layer (your selection layer) to your choice. I think it looks best faded. Of course this will work best when the background that you are placing the image into is simple and uncluttered.

Enjoy and let me know how it works for you, I’d love to see what you do!

I hope you have enjoyed this post on portraiture and I’d love to hear how your portrait sessions go when you put some of these tips into use!

Stay tuned as I will be teaching two up coming classes at www.learntotakephotos.com. We will be running my “How to make Digital Images with the WOW Factor” again in January and then a Post Production Class will follow in February. Be sure to check out my upcoming events: https://phyllisburchettphoto.net/iceland-tour-2015/ and https://phyllisburchettphoto.net/alaska-tour-2015/.  Hope you have a beautiful Christmas!