Casual Portraits

What's the difference between a picture and a portrait?
Making a family portrait is much more than just taking a picture.

It starts with the subject, your family. If you like, I can provide guidance to you on rules of thumb for traditional portraits. (See "Tips for a Better Portrait")


The photographs for most of my portraits are taken in your home or in a nearby place that is comfortable and familiar to you.


The setting is critical to a good portrait. It should be a place where the subject is comfortable, and the setting may provide memories of its own when the portrait is viewed in future years. The photographs for most of my portraits are taken in your home or in a nearby place that is comfortable and familiar to you. If a suitable background isn't available, then I supply an artificial background.

Lighting is next. I use a combination of natural lighting, your normal room lighting, and supplementary flash as needed. Reflectors, soft boxes, umbrellas and other specialized lighting tools are used when they're appropriate. The overall result reduces the problem that amateur photographers have with their pictures: uneven lighting or harsh glare.

The pose is important to create the right message—the memory that you want to create. In its simplest terms, the pose is the way that the subject appears in the photograph, maybe standing, maybe sitting, maybe looking this way or that. Many people like to have more formal "posed" photographs in which the subjects are arranged in a way that is pleasing to the eye. I can guide you in arranging these posed photographs.

But another type of pose is one that captures the subject doing something that is natural. A portrait of a woman sewing or a man working on his car (or a man sewing and a woman working on her car). A portrait of a mother or father reading to a child. A portrait of a child playing with a favorite toy. Portraits with these more casual poses are usually more memorable in the long run; they say something about the person.

Poses can be of the entire family together, each person individually, and various combinations of individuals. When you consider combinations, think of who is going to get a copy of a portrait. For example, you might want a portrait of mom and the kids so dad can have a photo for his desk; a portrait of dad and the kids so mom can have a photo for her desk; the kids by themselves; and various combinations of kids (for example, the sisters or the brothers). The extended family can be included in poses as well if they're available for the photo session.

In the moment of the actual photograph, all of these elements come together into an instant that is frozen in time.


Yet so many things can go wrong during the moment! People blink, children get distracted. I make up for these problems by taking multiple photographs, shooting "between the blinks" and providing enough variation in children's expressions to ensure that some good poses are captured.In the moment of the actual photograph, all of these elements come together into an instant that is frozen in time.

Within a few days after the photographs are taken, you'll view "proof" copies of the photos. Proofs are copies of some of the images taken during the photo session, with my recommendation on which ones are the best. You can look at your proofs over the Internet using a web browser, or you can view your proofs as small prints on photographic paper in a "proof book." Proofs show you the way that the subjects looked at the moment of photography, but the proofs don't show the finished portrait. You use them to pick the best images to take forward to the next steps.


The portrait artistry is done with the images you select.


The portrait artistry is done with the images you select from the proofs. Using advanced computer tools for digital imaging, I'll adjust your images for the best lighting, contrast and color balance. I'll also correct for physical problems in the photo: teeth that could have been whiter, eyes that could have been clearer, minor skin blemishes, etc.

Then I'll add more artistic touches. Things like vignetting around the image (a gradual fading or blurring to shift focus toward the subject), soft focus or glow, a high contrast effect for a dreamy appearance, or combinations of color and black & white within a photo to highlight certain areas. I can also perform additional photo artistry as you request, such as removing a subject's braces from the photograph, combining subjects from two photos, or replacing the photo background with something more exotic.

The prints come next. I use professional photo labs who use only the best materials. Prints are made on archival paper using a photographic process that ensures that these prints will survive for years to come. Then some of the prints are bonded to canvas, or given special coatings to make them more durable or to make them look more like a painting.

Last, there's the presentation of the portrait. Larger prints are delivered already framed and ready to hang on the wall. Prints can be matted and covered with glass, or mounted directly in frames as a painting would be. Unframed smaller prints are placed in individual transparent bags and then boxed for protection. Prints are delivered to your home, or shipped to a location of your choosing.

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