Professional Portrait Photography

In Las Vegas

Let’s talk a little bit about professional portrait photography for creatives. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it. You have mastered the open shade long lens portrait and all the other types of basic portraiture. But what is setting you apart as a professional portrait photographer. Are you pushing the boundaries and trying to create things unique to you. Are you experimenting with new lighting or techniques? What gets you inspired? Are you making an effort to inspire others? How often do you challenge yourself to think outside of the box. As someone who thrives on new challenges and creating just to create, I would love to share some techniques and ways I find inspiration with you. 

When my business partner and I launched our professional photography business we were incredibly busy. So busy in fact that there was no time for personal projects. We were bogged down with the business side and shooting a lot of work that was not as creatively stimulating as I would hope. Not that I am complaining, one of my favorite and best clients creates convention booths. I love working for this client and I love how much work they give us. But shooting a convention booth does not always leave my craving for a creative challenge at a calm. I am the type of person that craves being creative, I need it, I thrive on it. It’s one of my favorite drugs.

Using colorful backdrops is a creative way to make a professional portrait photography.

Using colorful backgrounds can add creativity to your professional portrait photography.

With being so busy and with no time to create, it was the first time I saw the camera as work. I didn’t even look at a camera the same way. I looked forward to putting it safely away in its case until I had to pull it out of its secure home for the next job. Did I really just put this much effort into opening a professional photography business based on something I love, only to end up resenting it? NO. So I made some changes. And I added the creativity back into my professional portrait photography.

How to Get Inspired and Creative With Your Professional Portrait Photography

I personally like challenges. I like to come up with an idea or get inspired by a creative professional portrait and try as a photographer to figure out how to create it with my own spin. One way I find inspiration is Instagram or Pinterest. At one point in my professional photography career, I stopped following just my friends and what they ate on instagram and started following people who inspire me. I follow artists, photographers, designers, and anyone who sparks my creative juices. Soon I was less annoyed with my friend’s avocado toast and full of ideas for professional portrait photography that was full of creativity.

Adding a tint or great wardrobe can increase creativity to your professional portrait photography.

Pinterest seemed so silly to me when I was first introduced to it. I didn’t understand what a tool it could become for professional portrait photography for creatives. It allows you to follow trending images. It allows you to see what creative approaches others are taking. My favorite feature of this platform is the ability to make a board and share it. This has been so beneficial for me, as I can easily share my creative ideas and mood with my collaborators. Creative professional portrait photography is a group sport. Models, hair and makeup, wardrobe, stylist, and the photographer all have to work together to find one cohesive end game. This tool has been very impactful in helping accomplish that. 

Another place I looked to for inspiration is advertising. As a professional portrait photographer, it is imperative to stay current with trends. You need to stay on top with what’s trending so that when a commercial entity calls you to see if you can add motion to a photograph or paint with light, you can answer yes, with confidence. Our studio is often mistaken for a millennial outfit, when we are actually over the qualifying age. I think this is in part to our creativity. We make the efforts to produce engaging content and try new techniques. I encourage you to find creative ways to enhance your professional portrait photography.

Let’s Get Creative

Alright now on to the different professional portrait photography types for creatives. Some of my favorites that I have experimented with are as simple as adding in the use of gels but reach as far as making models fly. You can choose to add your creativity in post with changing certain colors or obtain the creativity in your professional portrait photography during capture. For example painting with light or shooting through a prism would be examples of creative in capture. Making a model float or changing colors in the photograph would be considered creativity in post. 

Professional Portrait Photography with Gels

This may be one of the easiest ways to add a little creativity to your professional portrait photography. I would suggest shooting on a darker backdrop as this allows the colors from the gel to show up more vibrantly. Then using gels you light your subject and background to meet your desired effect. I will mention that this might be a great time to use scrims or have foam core on hand if you need to block light from the subject or background. These tools will allow you to direct the light more specifically, if that is needed in your final desired outcome. This is a quick and easy way to take creative professional portrait photography. 

Using gels to make a professional and creative portrait.

Professional Portrait Photography Painting With Light

This is going to be  more challenging than just adding some gels. This requires almost exact timing depending on what your desired final product is. If done successfully this can put creatives shooting professional portrait photography in a whole other skill set bracket. This goal can be accomplished many ways, but for this blog I am going to talk about the way I usually make this happen.

Using a long exposure allows me time to paint in a design with a led light or flashlight. While the long exposure is taking place I also use external light such as a strobe or flash to properly expose my subject. So I push the release on the camera, while the shutter is open I expose the subject with a flash. Then I use a flashlight or a LED light to paint in a design. It’s not that difficult but it will take some practice to get the timing down.  

Painting with light for creative professional portrait photography.

Professional Portrait Photography Using a Prism

Why not? I saw a professional photographer giving a tutorial about shooting through a prism for professional portrait photography. It’s such a creative idea and one with so many outcomes. The slightest twist of the prism completely alters its effects. And it’s almost as easy as it sounds. When I decided to shoot through a prism the first couple attempts I made I used a long lens. My canon 70-200 lens which has some weight to it. Nothing these guns can’t handle but trying to shoot, hold a heavy camera super still and twist a prism to a super precise angle. It was a dance. One that had a lovely outcome, but perhaps add a tripod or a lighter lens to enhance your experience. For professional portrait photography the long lens is my go to, so even if I am being creative, I probably would still choose that lens. 

Using a prism in front of the lens is a creative way to make a professional portrait photography.

Elevating Your Professional Portrait Photography

Make them float. Say what? Yes, make them fly….. If you have a tripod, know how to use photoshop and have a step stool. You can make someone fly. How’s that for putting the creative in your professional portrait photography. Here’s how you soar. Put your camera on a tripod. Put your model on a step stool. Shoot your model. Then remove the model and step stool from the scene. With the camera still on the tripod take a photo of the empty scene. Take both images into photoshop and make the empty scene the top layer. Using a layer mask block of the step stool. Boom. You just gave somebody the ability to fly. You also just took your creative idea to the next level in professional portrait photography. 

Floating subjects is a creative way to make a professional portrait photography.

Professional Portrait Photography in Post.

Creative in post feels like flying because the opportunities are endless. You have very few boundaries you can’t cross. Maybe shift one color using saturation. Tint the whole image, or turn it black and white. Perhaps you make it feel retro or vintage. You can do just about anything. 

Some of my favorite new post corrections are to tint a whole image or only change minor colors to give the whole thing a fantasy feel. I also kind of fell in love with adding motion to my images using apps like Plotograph or software like Flixel to achieve this. At the end of the day, I love creating. It makes me happy, so I am constantly seeking out new ideas. All the mentioned above I saw somewhere else and then challenged myself to learn.

Professional Portrait Photography for creatives

Shadow Play In Your Professional Portrait Photography 

Use the light and shadows to your advantage. By doing so you will add a splash of creative to your professional portrait photography. The key is just using the light and really dialing in where the shadows fall. I have used material, leaves, and projection to accomplish this goal in the past. One tip I would give about this is to keep the items close to the subject so the shadow lines are more defined. The farther you move the light back from the item that is casting the shadow the more soft the shadow lines will become. If you want distinct shadow lines keep the light source and object close to the subject.

shadow play for creative professional portrait photography

Professional Portrait Photography Using Double Exposure

This is not like the old days when you captured a double exposure in camera, although you most definitely still can. Nowadays most do this in post because of the amount of control. This is a great way to add creativity to your professional portrait photography. They even make apps for the phone that are great for this. For my professional photography I definitely still use photoshop as my go to blending option for this kind of creative. While 2020 is definitely not on trend. Yuck! Redo please!!! This type of creative photography I have seen grow more and more popular, so of course I had to try it out. 

Professional Portrait Photography for creatives

Making a double exposure can add to the creativity of your professional portrait photography.

Just like making someone fly, you have to have a tripod for this creative professional portrait photography. Well at least for the example above. Technically you could blend any two images whether you have a tripod or not. For this particular image we used a tripod so we could line up the numbers captured in the shot. 

After capture it was as simple as tinting the images, then layering the images in photoshop. For the top layer you lower the opacity so the bottom image becomes visible. Tweak as need be, until you have your desired results. Not only is this style creative, it’s on trend. So why not try your hand at it. Step up your professional portrait photography for creatives.

For more creative ideas check out these additional links:

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