Designing a Portrait

What makes Leavitt Photo any different from other studios?

Well, we don’t take portraits, we design our portraits. You may be thinking, “Oooooo! Fancy talking Ben, but what the heck does designing a portrait mean?”

Designing a portrait is a proactive approach to creating a portrait. Some people might call it “Staging a Portrait” but for me it goes beyond just planning the location, it involves coordinating:

  1. Subject
  2. Story
  3. Location
  4. Wardrobe
  5. Props

Subject

Who or what is this image going to be about? Your daughter? Mother? Friend? Pet? This is one of the first questions to ask yourself when designing a portrait since it will determine how the rest of the factors come in to play.

Story

What’s the story of this image? What message are you trying to convey? Is it, “Baby’s first Birthday” or “Brian is a messy eater”? If there’s something you love about your child, how will you show it through a portrait?

Location

Where will this story take place? If the story is about your child’s love of soccer, then it would be appropriate to take the portrait at a soccer field. If the story is simply about your child’s good nature and smile then maybe the location doesn’t matter so much and a white background would suffice. If the location doesn’t add to the story, then it might be best to not have a location at all.

Wardrobe

What will your child typically be wearing in this story? Are they a dancer? A basketball star? Just a kid? The wardrobe will differ greatly depending on the subject and story of your portrait. If you’re trying to convey your child is a messy eater, maybe all they’ll be wearing is a diaper and their spaghetti.

Props

What props might you need to tell the story? If your story is “Ben’s love of mint chip ice cream” the only prop you will need is a mint chip ice cream cone. If it’s his love of “Ultimate” then all you’ll need is a 175g disc. Don’t add any props to the portrait unless they help tell your story.

Portrait Design Walk-Through

Here’s an example of one of my portrait designs…

  1. Subject: My Daughter Vanessa
  2. Story: Vanessa’s 1st Birthday
  3. Location: home, birthday party scene.
  4. Wardrobe: Birthday Hat, “Birthday Princess” bib, solid pink shirt.
  5. Props: Balloons taped to wall for a background – some with butterflies because the name Vanessa means “Butterfly”, birthday cake with sprinkles, white chair to match frosting, #1 birthday candle, pink table cloth to match wardrobe, cake, and balloons.

If you have an idea for a portrait you’d like to do then give me a call or e-mail me and we’ll schedule your pre-consultation, toss some ideas around and create a perfect portrait for your home.:)

January 30, 2009 - 7:01 pm

Colleen - Nice portraits of your cute daughter. The 2nd is a great example of how much better this typical family snapshot can be made so much stronger by using a simple, uncluttered background and coordinating the colors of the clothing, hat, tablecloth, chair and cake.

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