Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Prepare Yourself for a Portrait Session!

Do you know the difference between a portrait and an ID picture?  First let's discuss the ID picture. You know you need ID pictures, right?  You need them for your school ID, passport, visa applications, bank account applications,  loan applications,  SSS records, etc., etc.

What is a portrait?  The web definitions says it is a  portrayal: a word picture of a person's appearance and character.  Wikipedia says "A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. For this reason, in photography a portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer.

I would like to emphasize that a portrait picture is not a snapshot at all.   Both the photographer and you, the subject,  need to prepare for the photo shoot.  Many photographers, photo studios require that you set an appointment for a portraiture.

Why do you need an appointment for the studio or photographer?  Because they may have previous appointment, silly.  Also, the photographer needs to know what props, costumes,  backdrops, would be used for the photo session.  Having said that, whether you are a friend of the photographer or a walk-in customer, don't feel bad if you are refused a photo session when you so feel right to project that Angelina Jolie pose/pout that you have in mind. 

You, the subject, how do you prepare for a photo session?

1.  Book for a photo session at minimum of 48 hours ahead.  I said minimum because depending on the time of the year, many of photo studios and photographers are already fully booked during graduation time, Christmas, favorite wedding time - June or December to January.

2.  Plan your outfits for the photo session.  Plan your makeup, your hairdo.  Make an appointment with your hairdresser or make-up artist if necessary.  For a timeless portrait photo, opt for a classic look:  natural-looking make-up instead of a trendy green eyeshadow or blue eye mascara.  Your picture would look dated if your outfit, hair-do or make-up goes out of style, so it is better to have a natural look.

3.  Practice your poses in the mirror.  If I am the one taking your picture I will guide you with your poses and angles but you should know yourself more.  Like do you have a lopsided smile.  Would you like to emphasize the downward or upward turn of your smile? Do you have a hairy mole on your right cheek?   Is your right eye a bit smaller?  Know and choose your best angle.  Look at the magazines for nice poses that best suit your body type, your age, your clothes, etc. 

4)  The night before the shoot, sleep well.  You don't like to look sleepy and droopy , don't you.  Photo session takes time and if you lack sleep, and therefore you lack energy, that would show in your picture.  Avoid alcohol and salty food as they cause puffiness.

5)  Confirm your appointment at least a day before the photo session.  If you forgot, call before you leave your house.  You don't like to lug your outfits, make-up, etc to find out later that your photo sessison is booked another day or canceled, etc. 

Recently, I had a client who conveniently forgot that an appointment is needed for a photo session.,  She came when I was packing for a vacation, and when I pack I plan for each day of our vacation!  I was annoyed by the lack of consideration, but since we have a mutual friend, I stopped my packing and obliged for a photo shoot very unprepared.  She did not bring extra outfits, I have not prepared the backdrop, props, accessories for her photo shoot,  etc.  In short, I was not in the mood for a photo shoot but did it anyway, for a friend.  Photoshop as always is a handy tool, so I used it liberally as you could see in these pictures.

Here's the picture before Photoshop:

Here's the 'Photoshopped' picture:

 Here's another unedited picture:

And here's the 'Photoshopped' one:

As she came without an appointment, I was not able to advise her to use a neutral color for her nails.  Of course I could change the color of her nails in Photoshop, but she likes the color. I would have opted for her to have a more classic look, especially with her nice curly hair.   In the first photo, I had her remove her blouse and chose an angle that does not emphasize her funky jewelry.  She was very cooperative , though.  It took time for her to relax and smile but she is a pleasant subject.  Aside from being pretty and perky, she also has clear skin and her hair looked awesome!  It's her first time to have a photo session by a professional.  She confessed that she thought a portrait session is when a photographer takes two shots and have her choose between the two.  I told her, that could work for an ID picture.  Now she knows the difference between  a portrait shoot and an ID shot or a snap shot.

As you could see, Photoshop saved my day. 

Would you like a photo session appointment? If you're in my area, call +639277629409.  If you are not in my area, I could restore old photos for you or do some digital magic on your digital or scanned photos.  Email me,

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