Monday, July 6

CoffeeShop Tutorial: Creating Memorable Portraits Of Loved Ones At Home, Part 1

Today I am posting the first of a three-part set of tutorials (one has a new action!) showing you how I photographed and edited a memorable portrait of my son at home.  I shoot a lot of lifestyle/candid images of my boys but sometimes I want something a bit more formal.  So I decided to start shooting a series of images of my sons doing something special to them at this moment in time.  

Imp, who is 8, is a reluctant reader who loves Minecraft.  I know that most children won't read for pleasure unless you give them a book that they find interesting. So I purchased a series of Minecraft instructional books and suddenly he decided he wanted to read.  He spends hours on his bed or on the floor pouring over his Minecraft books and then going over every (boring) detail with us.  I am now a Minecraft expert and I haven't even played the game.

So today I will show you how I set up a simple home photo studio using a window, closet door, and stool so I could shoot with beautiful natural light and capture his love of Minecraft.  Part 2 of the tutorial will cover the B&W conversion (and it comes with an amazing new action called "Dark and Stormy Night" I just wrote!) and in Part 3 I will show you how I added a texture and fake window light to add drama.

CoffeeShop Tutorial:  Find the Light, Using a Window as Your Simple Home Studio

Light will make or break your portrait.  I don't have a home studio and usually shoot outdoors, but I wanted to capture Imp reading one of his favorite books using natural light.  So I set up my fancy indoor photo studio.

I dragged a stool to the third floor so that it was next to a window.  It was a cloudy day so I had beautiful diffused light.  I decided I could use my closet doors as the background.  If you don't have your own beautiful clunky closet doors available you could use a blank wall or even hang a simple sheet or backdrop on the wall using painter's tape.  Keep it simple!

I had Imp sit down, handed him his book, and had him turn to face the light.  I set my camera on manual using a wide aperture and high ISO (I am not afraid of noise/grain since I knew these would be B&W).

This is one of my images, SOOC (straight-out-of-the-camera).  Imp is really reading and kept on getting mad at me as I interrupted him to ask for subtle changes in his position until I was happy with the light.

I wanted to make sure his face and the book were well lit and in focus.  Everything else would happen in Photoshop. 

This is my final edit after running the action and adding the texture/light effect.  This image means so much to me as I captured his love of reading and Minecraft. I love the dramatic lighting and the intense look on his face.  It isn't a technically perfect image, but it makes me happy and that is what is important when you shoot for yourself.

Tomorrow I will post the new B&W action I used for this edit and later this week I will show you how I added the texture and fake window light.  Be sure to check back!  And please post your own before/afters on my Facebook page, I love to see your work.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.

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  1. Thanks for sharing how you did this. Your photo is wonderful! I appreciate knowing how your created this look.

  2. My daughter is a minecraft fanatic too so I know how you feel!


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