Oh and as a side note, I'm going to start posting images instead of putting them in a gallery, saving you from having to click repeatedly.
Detroit has many lovely historic architectural sites. Last night, I joined a group of photographers and shared the cost to rent The Whitney for an hour so that we could photography the gorgeous interior, furniture, decor, and details. Below are some if the images from the gathering.
Oh and as a side note, I'm going to start posting images instead of putting them in a gallery, saving you from having to click repeatedly.
AJ is a week out from his competition and wanted images to showcase his hard work. He commissioned me to create a couple composites and a few images to showcase his musculature.
The background on the garage is a stock image from wchild on Deviant Art.
I can't divulge the full details of what's coming up because I want to save it for when I can share the images instead of just telling you about it. However, I can speak a little bit of what's coming up in the next few months.
I love creating fine art conceptual portraits. I also love creating portraits for seniors, children, newborns, families, actors, and models. But, all of these have one thing in common: people. I really do like people, but I'm an introvert. What that means is engaging in social activities drains my, shall we say, batteries. I recharge by being alone and doing quiet things like hiking and reading.
Since I've embarked on the wonderful path of portrait photography, I've found I've gotten away from other types of photography that I love. In the next few months, I am making an effort to go out and shooting personal projects. I hope to share these adventures with all of you in future blog posts.
A few of the things I can mention about my future projects are:
I am very excited about these excursions. I hope you will enjoy the resulting photographs.
This is a commissioned piece that continues my "disintegration" style series.
I've been thinking about what to post regarding the fine art and conceptual portraits and I realized that something many may want to know is what is involved in a commissioned piece.
What can you expect for a fine art or conceptual session?
The session doesn't start when we meet to photograph your likeness and it doesn't end as soon as the session it finished.
Prior to the session:
Before the session, we will meet for a consultation. This meeting consists of discussion what you would like for your image(s). This could be discussing style of my work, concepts, belief, likes, dislikes, wardrobe planning, and surreal elements. You may have ideas or you may not. Either is fine. If you don't have an idea of what you like, I will ask questions to find out what would work for you and to come up with a concept designed just for you.
We may also have phone calls and email messages between the consultation and the meeting. These may be to finalize ideas and to firm up our session.
I will also send wardrobe suggestions to you and tips to keep you looking your best for the session.
We will determine session date and time.
For fine art pieces and portrait sessions, 50% of the fee is due prior to the session.
After the consultation:
I will work on planning the concept. Planning includes buying the appropriate props and building the set.
If a set is not involved and we had agreed upon a location session, I will scout for the perfect locations to fit the concept.
Additionally, I will sketch a diagram of my plan for lighting and the general idea of what the finished image will look like.
If any other team members are involved, such as hair or makeup, I will present them with the sketch and color scheme for the concept.
During your session:
You will arrive with the wardrobe we planned.
Your final installment of your session fee is due at this time. If we are creating a fine art conceptual piece, you will have also told me the kind of wall print you would like so that I can determine the dimensions and crop accordingly while photographing you.
I will present the sketch and plan to you as well as discuss how I would like you to pose.
You will change into wardrobe. If hair and makeup is necessary, the artist will prepare your look for the session.
While you are getting prepared, I will do final checks on lighting and the set.
When you are ready, I will communicate with you where you need to be in the set and I will discuss and help you get into the pose. As we proceed with the session, I may make adjustments to your pose or the hair dresser may fix you hair if it gets messed up a bit. This will continue until we have everything perfectly set...no wrinkles in wardrobe, no odd bulges in wardrobe, hair and makeup perfect, and lighting on you set perfectly to enhance your best features and convey the mood of the concept, etc. This is where we get everything perfect for the base image.
You will go home excited to see the images and invigorated from a fun session with the great team we have assembled.
After your session:
Your part is complete, but I still have a lot of work to do. If this is a portrait session or a conceptual session, I have to upload the images, back up the images, then cull them for the images that present you perfectly. For the most part, we get everything in camera, but there's always those odd few where the light may have misfired, you blinked, an expression is slightly off, and etc. Those images are deleted.
For portraits: You will have an in-person viewing session where you choose and order the images you want. After you've placed you order, paid for your images, and we've verified exactly what you would like retouched, I retouch what is not permanent on your selected images or any other things you may want softened, such as blemishes, circles under the eyes, or scars you may not be comfortable with. I will not remove scars or moles unless you request them to be removed. Those are part of what make you who you are and the choice is up to you. After retouching all the images, I submit proofs to you for approval. After your approval, I submit the order. The order can take 2-6 weeks depending upon the items you ordered.
For conceptual/fine art images: We've discussed what your use for the image will be. Unlike portrait sessions, fine art conceptual commissions are usually single images. With conceptual/fine art, it is most likely for a wall. I spend an average of 16-40 hours hand retouching, painting, and adjusting a single image. Think of it as digital painting. I do no use filters. This is not completed with a click of a button. I personally zoom in and out of the image adding elements and retouching, paining digitally, and doing whatever needs to be done artistically to make the concept come to life.
You will arrive for an in-person viewing of the image. At this time, you will give your approval of the image and make your payment for the print. If there needs to be any adjustments to the image, I will make them and then send in your order. Again, the order can take from 2-6 weeks depending upon the item.
Still shut in with cold weather and feeling ill. We can't seem to shake the freezing temps or the flu bug.
While sick with fever, I watched a few movies. I came across one called "Belle" and the story struck a chord. I went back to a session I had with Kai and approached this image as the character Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay. It worked. Once again, playing with digital painting, I created an oil painted look for the image.
About Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay: (1761–1804) was born into slavery as the natural daughter of Maria Belle, an enslaved African woman in the West Indies, and Captain John Lindsay, a British career naval officer who was stationed there. Lindsay took Belle with him when he returned to England in 1765, entrusting her to his uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife Elizabeth to raise. The Murrays educated Belle, bringing her up as a free gentlewoman, together with their niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray, whose mother had died. Belle lived there for 30 years. In his will of 1793, Lord Mansfield confirmed her freedom and provided an outright sum and an annuity to her.
In the years he raised Dido, her great-uncle, Lord Chief Justice, ruled in two significant slavery cases, finding in 1772 that slavery had no precedent in common law in England, and had never been authorized under positive law. This was taken as the formal end of slavery in Britain. In a case related to the slave trade, he narrowly ruled that owners of a company were not due insurance payments for the loss of slaves during a voyage, as it appeared related to errors by the officers.
We are in the middle of a deep freeze so while having a bad case of cabin fever, I decided to play with digital painting. Unfortunately, my son and husband wouldn't pose for me so I had to create a self portrait.
As with any work I create, it all starts with the lighting. If I want this to look like a painting, I have to light it in a painterly fashion. I tend to lean toward chiaroscuro and so my lighting is set up for dramatic effect, creating highlights and shadows. Being...ahem...a bit older, I used the largest modifier possible so that I'd have a soft wrap and not over-accentuate my less than perfect skin.
Posing for self portraits is difficult. I've gained a lot of respect for self-portrait artists out there. Finding your focus and knowing if you've posed correctly is difficult. I may know how to pose my subject so they look their best for the camera, but when posing myself, I can't see how I look in camera. It took several attempts to get a half way decent self-portrait. It's still less than ideal.
After I had a somewhat okay subject, I started the digital painting part. I used custom brushes and created and modified a background. I then cut myself out of the portrait and placed myself into the background. It is always a challenge to make the subject match the background in color and lighting. After I achieved that, I set to painting over the subject with custom brushes. I started with blocking in color, then building up the detail from there. I painted additional hair to fill in the gaps.
Painting over the subject is different from what I've done in the past with my fantasy images. In those, I simply used dodge and burn to enhance the lighting effects on my subjects. This time, I actually used color and digitally painted as if I were creating the image on a canvas. Just like with painting, I would change my custom brush for the effect I would need as I built up from blocking in color to creating the details. Pressure sensitivity is essential and so is a Wacom tablet. There is no way I would have been able to paint with a mouse.
The image took about 8-10 hours to create (not including the shooting time). This was a simple image and not as detailed as some of my concepts.
While this is time consuming, it blended my two favorite creative outlets; photography and painting. I can also see uses with future fantasy portraits. Using these techniques, I'll be able to create fantasy worlds and creatures to add into these concepts.
Marie Claire will be publishing an issue with models un-retouched. To get a sneak peek, check out this blog post: http://www.dailyhiit.com/hiit-blog/hiit-community/cindy-crawford-releases-un-photoshoped-pictures/ . I think this is brilliant. Women and men are perfect as they are, wrinkles, cellulite, short, tall, lean, or curvy. It doesn't matter what shape or size you are. It doesn't matter if you have cellulite or not. You should embrace you.
However, as a digital artist, I don't find fault in the fashion and beauty industry for retouching. They are creating a fantasy. Fashion, as a whole, is a form of art. The problem is when the public can't separate the fantasy from reality. We need to approach these images as art. We shouldn't think they are reality.
A lot goes into an image. Makeup, in itself, is a form of retouching. Then, as a photographer, I can tell you that lighting will play up or play down features, as does lens choice. Retouching is just the final polish on the image.
My approach to retouching portraits and headshot is to remove non-permanent marks (pimples, scratches, buses, etc.). If the client would like the retouching to go further, I will do so per the client's request. Typically, headshot do not go any further than removing the non-permanent.
When it comes to my digital art, I want my subjects to look like paintings. Therefore, I approach the retouching as creating art and making the subject look like a painting.
As you can see, each genre of image has specific needs. So, the next time you see a gorgeous image in a glossy magazine, remember that it is art and love yourself for everything that you are.
This portrait of Morgan was shot in studio with my studio strobes. I created a set and set up the lighting so that it would look like she was standing next to a window. I wanted it to look like a candid shot, but it was planned and posed appear candid, but portray the subject as a woman caught in the moment.
An image like this is perfect as a portrait or as an actor headshot. Casting directors would look at this and get a feel for Morgan in a role and on set.
As a portrait, it's a lovely girl-next-door look. Relax and casual, it is not over posed and doesn't appear to be a formal portrait, but more of a lifestyle portrait.
I took one look at Stephanie and immediately knew we had to create Princess Merida from Disney's Brave. We started planning our session back in December. So it was over a month before we finally shot the image.
A fantasy session takes time to pull together. It starts with a consultation, where we discuss the look and concept for your fine art portrait. Then, either the client or I put together the wardrobe. In this case, Stephanie's mother pulled together the wardrobe. During the consultation we discussed the kind of clothing that would work best, the best makeup and hair, and the props. I had the bow, but Stephanie's mother also bought one.
So while my client was searching for the perfect wardrobe and ordering it, I was planning how I was going to create the background and light the image. For some images, I build a set or use a backdrop. For others, I digitally create a background. I piece together different elements, plan how I'll lay them out, how I'll pose the client, etc. Planning the lighting is important, too because it has to work with the background that I create.
Doing the background planning and work made the session and retouching go smoothly. The session lasted no longer than an hour and the final image took about 16 hours to finish. The background building is not figured into the finish time as that was done ahead of time in the month prior.
The point of creating the background early and planning ahead is that the client only had to wait a few days before their finished image was ready.
Contact me for commission on your very own fantasy session.
I am a Warren, MI based headshot, fashion, fantasy, fine art, senior, and portrait photographer. I have photographed the Detroit area and Southeastern Michigan for over 25 years.