Although we do a lot of 'standard' portrait photography here at GCPhoto, we also like to get a bit artistic and do some creative portrait photography too.
This blog post tells you a little bit about the creative portrait photography options.
Despite the title of this page, every creative portrait photoshoot is unique so there isn't really a standard package, but here you'll find some ideas and hopefully some artistic inspiration.
What is creative portrait photography?There's no absolute definition of 'creative portrait photography' as everyone's opinion will be a little bit different, but generally speaking, it's portrait photography with a little bit of art thrown in. The artistic element might be in the location, the outfit, the lighting, or what happens in Photoshop afterwards (or all of those). As it's a portrait, we still want to capture the personality of the subject so it's important that the creative element matches the style of the subject. However, creative portrait photography is often used to show someone's alter ego rather than their day-to-day style, so rip up the rule book if you want!
Examples of creative portrait photographyHere are a few photos of mine that I'd class as creative portrait photography. Some of these were my vision while, in others, the subject brought the concept with them and we planned the shoot around that.
• Woman, waiting with suitcase
These drawers are an interesting bit of antique furniture and I've photographed them a few time. However, I always found them somehow melancholy. Rather than try to change that, I grasped that as a concept and set up a shoot with the fabulous Sarah in which she was dressed in a kind of old-fashioned, almost wild west, way and we used an elderly suitcase that I found in a second-hand store as a prop. The lighting is moody with shadows and the image was partially desaturated in Photoshop as I didn't want any bright, cheerful colours in this one.
• Bodypainted Goddess
This is an old one, and I'm the first to admit that it's not technically perfect, but overall, I think it's stood the test of time. For this image, our model was Zanna who I have worked with several times over the years and she's always wonderful to shoot. The bodypainting was done by the immensely talented artist Jess Hann ... and it took hours!
For this image, the creative input was from all of us - the model, the bodypainter and the photographer. It would have looked completely different if any one of us had a different idea about the shoot. In my mind, the bodypainted Zanna had an ethereal god-like look. The apple was a last moment addition to give the image a biblical reference.
• Industrial steampunk
I'm a big fan of alternative subcultures and steampunk lends itself really well to creative photography. For this photoshoot, one of the GCPhoto photographers arranged access to a factory for the photoshoot, which was a great location. Our model, Zara, has an amazing wardrobe of steampunk outfits and looks great in them. From a photographic point of view, most of the work was in the lighting as we wanted a strong light behind her, plus some light on the front, but to not spill out into the rest of the factory floor. I think the results look great!
• Tinkerbell cosplay
This photo of Bella Murray as the fairy Tinkerbell is a mix of the outfit, the pose and a great deal of Photoshop! It's a nice, fun image, even with the threatening giant (well, giant compared to Tinkerbell) that you can imagine just out of shot as Tinkerbell cowers on the floorboards.
• Artist promotional photography
One of the most common requests for creative portrait photography comes from artists for their promotional material. For singers, dancers, and performers, as well as magicians, striking images for artwork, posters and even social media are crucial to draw attention to themselves in an overcrowded online world and a 'standard' portrait sometimes just won't cut it. And that is where creative portrait photography comes in!
This photo was for Apollo Jackson's Influence show. Apollo wanted something a bit demonic, and this is what we came up with together. The photoshoot was a simple affair in the studio with Apollo in a dark suit against a black background. The rest was added in Photoshop!
Those are just a few of the many examples of creative portrait photography that we've done at GCPhoto. So now we'll go through a few of the options if you'd like to set up a photoshoot with us.
StyleThis really can be literally anything! If we can't do it for the photoshoot, we'll add it in with Photoshop afterwards! It may be that you have a particular style and you want to emphasise that or you do a particular thing and you want to show off your talent. Alternatively, it might just be a look that you've always felt would suit you – maybe you want to be surrounded by flames or float in the clouds. Whatever look you'd like, we'll work out how to make it happen.
Studio or location photography?It will depend entirely on what we're trying to create!
As a general guide, if the image needs very precise lighting or a significant amount of Photoshop afterwards, then it'd be best to do it in the photography studio. On the other hand, if the look is, for example, a gothic portrait then we can find a suitably dark and spooky location and shoot there.
Number of imagesFor a beauty photoshoot in the studio, I'd normally shoot hundreds of images, then narrow them down to a few dozen, then the client will choose around a dozen of their favourites. For creative portrait photography, the final number of images is usually a lot less, sometimes even only one. It's all about getting the look and the lighting exactly right and capturing the perfect image. For many clients, they want a few more images than that and so we'd focus on getting one perfect shot and then a few additional, but still awesome, shots to go with it. Talk to us beforehand, and we'll let you know what would be a realistic number of images.
Photoshoot lengthSimilar to the number of images, the time of a creative portrait photoshoot may be a bit different to a 'standard' photoshoot. For example, a session involving bodypaint will be hours in the preparation but may be only half an hour in front of the camera. The length of the shoot will entirely depend on the artistic nature of the photograph, so we'll discuss that beforehand.
Hair and make-upAt the risk of sounding repetitive, it's up to you and the look we're going for. If the creative portrait is almost like a beauty photoshoot, then hair and make-up is usually a good idea. If, on the other hand, you want to make a mess or get wet during the shoot, it's probably not worth doing your hair! For some creative portraits, such as bodypainting or special effects, getting a professional involved is a must.
Creative portrait photography packagesOkay, I may have exaggerated the idea of 'creative portrait photography packages' for this page.
Every creative photoshoot is unique and so the package will be tailored to your requirements including time and location of the photoshoot, whether hair, make-up or special effects are required, and the Photoshop artwork. But, importantly, between us, we can work out almost anything, so don't be afraid to get in touch and ask! It's a cliche, but the only limit is your imagination!
There's loads more that we could talk about, but a lot of it depends on exactly what type of portrait we're creating, so if you'd like a creative portrait photography session, then get in touch with me via the GCPhoto contact page.
matt at GCPhoto