Anatomy of a portrait

I often have people ask how we get great pictures.  Some just assume we have a really good camera (you have my permission to laugh).  And while a good camera is important, there’s really oh so much more to it than that.  Even with a good camera and a good eye, sometimes photos seem to fall flat.  That’s where a really great lens comes in.  This photo was taken with a 50mm prime.  The f-stop was 2.8.  See that great blurry background and the way she seems to just pop off it?  That’s what a low aperture (or f-stop) will give you – a really nice shallow depth of field.  When you’re playing with backlighting like this it’s really tricky.  You have to be sure your exposure is correct on the subject and not the over-light background.  This is the image straight out of the camera.

Taylor-soc1

We shoot all our sessions in RAW.  This is an uncompressed format that allows us to “tweak” different aspects of the photo before converting it to a JPG file.  This image is the post-RAW processed image.  See the nice saturation and warmth.  Love it!
Taylor2

You’d think it would stop there, but now it’s time for the pop!  We go in to lightly remove any imperfections on the skin (all in Photoshop), do some dodging and burning on the eyes and teeth if needed.  Then I run a portraiture plug-in that smooths and softens the skin.  Gorgeous.Taylor3
The final pop comes from a Photoshop action to enhance the sunlight.  And there you have it – a final, edited portrait.  Of course, it does help to have a stunning subject like Taylor.
Taylor4

And they said all you needed was a great camera. Stinkers.

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