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Building Set for Teenager Portrait

Lesson 16 from: Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Kelly Brown

Building Set for Teenager Portrait

Lesson 16 from: Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Kelly Brown

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Lesson Info

16. Building Set for Teenager Portrait

On a limited budget? Learn how to create a crown prop with about $15 in craft supplies. Then, see how easy it is to create a "dress" from backdrops that you already have on hand.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Power of Portrait Photography


Introduction to Newborn Portrait


Find Inspiration for Newborn Portrait


Create The Scene for Newborn Portrait


Prepare & Pose Newborn for Portrait


Shoot: Techniques for Photographing Newborn


Newborn Image Review


Introduction & Find Inspiration For Child Portrait


Create The Scene for Child Portrait


Prepare Set for Child Portrait


Shoot: Capture Child Portrait


Image Review for Child Portrait


Introduction & Inspiration For Teenager Portrait


Create The Scene for Teenager Portrait


Building Set for Teenager Portrait


Shoot: Portrait with Teenager


Shoot: Pose Teenager for Multiple Looks


Image Review for Teenage Portrait


Introduction & Inspiration For Adult Portrait


Creating The Scene for Adult Portrait


Lighting for Adult Portrait


Tell Your Subject's Story


Shoot: Lighting for Double Exposure


Introduction to Senior Portrait


Create Storyboard & The Scene For Senior Portrait


Connect With Client to Create Portrait


Shoot: Lighting for Senior Portrait


Shoot: Be Creative on Set


Image Review for Senior Portrait


Portrait Shoots Recap


Global Adjustments in Camera Raw®


Editing In Photoshop® CC: New Born Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Child Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Adult Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Teenager Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Senior Portrait


Introduction to Entering Print Competitions


Process of Print Competitions


What to Consider For Print Competitions


What Judges Look For Overview


Image Impact


Creativity, Style & Composition in Images


Entering Photography Competitions Q&A


Image Lighting


Image Color Balance


Technical Excellence in Images


Photographic Technique


Storytelling & Subject Matter


Lesson Info

Building Set for Teenager Portrait

With our setup today, I'm actually gonna show you how I can create something really quite simple. For the dark background, I've got two lights here. I'm gonna work with strobes. This one here has got a three-foot Octobox, so it's gonna create a beautiful, soft light that's gonna come down towards her face from that elevated point. And she's gonna be sitting on our chair. And the other light that you can see here behind me, that's actually gonna create some separation on the backdrop. I'm gonna take my first shot without that light, and then I'm gonna have a look at it, and then I'm gonna introduce that light in to have a look at how I can add some sort of light to that background and create some more texture and detail. And then what I'm gonna do is use three blankets here, three backdrops that I've brought from my studio. I've made a crown, which is kind of fascinating, and I've got a heap of behind-the-scenes photos of making that. But we went to a craft store, and it's cork. It's li...

ke a soft cork. So I bought a tin of paint. I know that I'm gonna tone down that gold, because they didn't have the gold color I want. I'm gonna make it a more muted, sort of rusty gold, but that's okay because they didn't have the color I wanted, so you can make due with that. And then I just found some little ornate pieces that I've stuck on to give it some detail, and then some little gems. And so therefore, the green fabric's gonna tie in with that. I'm gonna photograph her with this, and without her as well. And so I'm just gonna show you how you can actually just use some pieces of fabric to create an outfit, and turn something that's really nothing, into something. Which is kinda cool, right? Yeah, are you excited? (laughs) Okay. Are we ready to get going, Kenna? I believe so, yes. Fantastic. Absolutely. Okay, so. I wanna have... Maya's gonna be sitting. And where I shoot this, I'm probably going to be kind of here, down low. When you're photographing someone, and you want to elevate them, you come from a lower perspective. It's like putting them on a bit of a pedestal, which is what I really love. So when I photograph her, I'm gonna come from a lower angle. So I need to take into consideration, when I come down lower, that height of that background. So I'm actually thinking, it's at a good height here, and I've got enough foreground because I'm actually gonna drape this fabric down across the bottom of the floor there around her, and make her look quite regal. Okay, where is Maya, come on in. Alright, so. Let's start with this. And this is kind of, I suppose, a really good example of being able to do something without really spending any money. This cost probably about 15 dollars to make, which was really cool. So I've got some clamps. And in my studio, I'm always creating, so whenever I make something, I just put it on the shelf. So something like this, going back to a previous question that we had, I can reuse some of those things for other setups, but I would never do anything that is exactly the same. Can you spin around that way for me? Alright, so I just wanna get rid of that frayed edge. Alright, okay, arms up for me. Now I'm gonna pull this quite tight, just let me know if it's uncomfortable or too tight, okay? Is that okay there? Yes. So I'm just using little clamps, here. Now is that gonna bother you, is that okay? Mm hmm. Alright, so, let me turn you around now to face everyone. And I'm just gonna give it a little pull here, not too tight, because when she sits down, she's gonna need that to stretch a little bit. And if I pull it too tight, pin it, and she sits, that clip's gonna come flying off. So I'm just pegging the back there. Alright. Okay. So, this one's gonna come in just behind you. I can see the center fold there, so I know where the center is. And I'm just gonna fold that top down. Okay, turn and face me. Okay, arms up a little. And what I'm gonna do here is I'm not gonna tie it at the front, but I am gonna peg it here. And the reason she's still got her jeans on is because I know that that's exactly the height that I wanna peg this, so I can peg it to those jeans. So if you just hold that there for me. Alright, so we'll find these jeans. Just gonna pull that up a bit. So, let me come on this side. And what I'm gonna do is kinda fold that down in there, and then come from back here to hide this peg. Now, just let me know if I pinch you at all. I'm trying not to, I've got my thumb there. Alright. And then I'm just gonna twist that over, so now we can hide that peg. And when she sits down, I'm gonna be able to place that even better. Okay, turn around this way a little more for me. Now, my idea is to have all of this beautiful fabric kind of draping down to the ground. And it's all in the pose for this one, so it's not necessarily about the outfits, the costumes. Obviously, styling is incredibly important. And color tone, because color creates mood, and adds to composition, but I don't want it to be overpowering. It's gonna be more about her, the pose, and the light. Alright. So she is going to be quite front-on. But what I'm gonna get you to do when you sit is kinda come towards the front of the chair there, on a little bit of a side angle. Your feet are gonna come here, and then you're going to lean with your elbow here. I always find showing your clients, your models, what to do first, gives them a really good visual, so they understand. And with those storyboards, they're great to kind of go through at the beginning of the shoot, you know, 'This is the post that I love,' 'This is the lighting that I'm going to show you, 'or I'm going to reproduce,' and things like that. And so then, with this elbow, I want you to just kind of have your hand underneath your chin, really soft like that. This hand is then gonna drape down like that, and then we're gonna have all this beautiful fabric around her. Alright, so we don't want you to trip. And I'm gonna pull that out as much as I can. Just be careful, because it does rock forward a little bit there. Perfect. Okay, Garrett, I'm gonna get you to come and help me fan some fabric. And then with the red, just fold that top section over again. I'm gonna come in behind you here. And then, what I'm gonna do is just pull this strap out a little bit. I'm going to attach it in here. Okay, so the trick now is to kinda hide all of the white fabric. So if you can start turning around some of that over there for me, Garrett. (asks for clarification) Um, just kind of soft and drapey as you can make it. You want the fabric to kind of flow. And I'm gonna show you, in Photoshop, a great way I like to make fabric look a little softer. Alright, so this is what we like to call fluffing. (laughs) Garrett gets a little frustrated with me, because I tend to over-fluff. But, it's being a perfectionist. It sometimes can be painful, but other times can make or break an image, really. It's paying attention to every little detail. And there's nothing worse than getting the photos up on your screen, and then going, 'Why didn't I fix that?' 'Why didn't I see that?' And it's not rushing, it's really taking your time, and allowing yourself to get it absolutely perfect. Okay, so just there, I'm gonna spin that clip a bit more. Perfect. Kelly, we've got a lot of people asking, again, about this fabric that you're using, because it's incredible to see what it looks like. Can you describe it again for us? So these are sort of like an imitation painted backdrop that's printed on fabric. So it's nice and stretchy, and allows you to kind of put it on the backdrop stands. And I mean, when I travel, I can't take all my beautiful backdrops with me. So I pack all of these, and they're from a company in Australia. So yeah, they are extremely handy. I'm just trying to hide some of those little highlighted bits there. Okay, comfy? Yeah. You look amazing. So communicating with your models throughout the process, it's just always talking to them. When you talk to people, you make them feel comfortable. If you are silent, and not communicating, they're gonna feel a little unsure, they're not gonna really know what to do next. So, you've gotta be able to guide them throughout that entire process of, you know, where to put their feet, where to pose, all of that sort of stuff. So I want you to kind of turn this arm here, that's it, and sort of bend that elbow in, and then bring it in a little closer, and then just relax that hand. I think I love that. Perfect. So, if you look a little towards that light there, you can see now, if I'd had Maya turn her head this way, and I shot that way, her hair's gonna be covering her face. So we're gonna be able to open that face up, and have her kind of sit in that position up towards that light, which is gonna be absolutely beautiful. Okay, how you feeling? Good. You alright? Yeah. So I'm gonna get a shot without the crown, and then I'm gonna come and put it in. And, you have the most amazing green eyes, which is perfect for this color. So now I want you to bring this elbow here forward, and then just kind of, perfect. And just bring that hand in underneath the chin, and bend those knuckles, and just rest your chin down just a little bit. Beautiful. So the reason that I brought that chin in, just relax your hands for me, is because if her hand is out here, and I'm focusing here, it's gonna be closer to the camera. So depending on the focal plane, and your aperture, you wanna make sure that everything's in line.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Mind Map & Prep Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Among a sea of wonderful teachers here at CL, Kelly is the cream of the crop. All of her classes are outstanding and this one is no exception. Amazing teacher. Amazing class. Amazing education. If you are hoping to stretch yourself to create deeper more meaningful stories in your images, or are feeling the pull of print competition but need some direction, this is definitely the class for you. Thank you Kelly!

Melissa Soto

Kelly Brown is a true inspiration. She has been my idol in this industry since I began. This class was amazing. I love how honest, authentic and genuine she was. But most importantly I loved her wise direction and teaching style. Kelly brown thank you for this gem. You helped light a fire in me. I’m so excited to start telling amazing stories with the skills I have learned from this class.

Marjorie Stevenson

Just loving this class! Kelly is one of my favorite instructors. She is very good at articulating her ideas and carrying them to an absolutely wonderful end product. Her images are always stunning. I love that she always puts safety first with her models. Thank you Kelly for sharing your creative visions with us.

Student Work