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Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Lesson 36 of 49

Editing In Photoshop® CC: Teenager Portrait


Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Lesson 36 of 49

Editing In Photoshop® CC: Teenager Portrait


Lesson Info

Editing In Photoshop® CC: Teenager Portrait

Oh, we'll go through this. Feather. Same as the previous image to fix this background. You just stretch it out there. Make it a large stretch, and then adding a layer mask, inverting that, and just painting on the information that we need. (pencil drawing) Okay. So with this, I love this little bit of dark sort of moodiness that's kinda coming through here. I can't see any major sort of highlight areas or areas that I need to really sort of darken down except for a little bit here on her shoulder where the skin is meeting the green, and then just up here on the hat. I loved that back, you know strip box coming in with that light to separate and add some tone through the shoulder here in the background, but I didn't necessarily want it to light up that crown as much. With the crown I also wanted it to be a more sort of coppery tone as well, so I can change the color of that. There are so many ways that you can change the color. I could desaturate it, but then it's going to look quite gr...

ay. But if I wanna give it a completely different tone, I'm going to first change my brush to color mode if it's not already on it. I'm gonna sample a color down here in this red which has kinda got some rusty colors in there, can you see those? So, using the alt key, sample those colors there. I'm gonna paint it on at 100 percent because I'm gonna have to lift my brush and put it down. If you're painting it on at 40 percent you're lifting up going down you're gonna get a really inconsistency, a real inconsistency in terms of how much you're painting on. So you can see this here, and this is just really quick. Now I... In painting it on at 100 percent I'm looking for consistency, but I am gonna bring the opacity of this layer down. So I'm trying to do this as fast as possible because this segment is nearly over. And I mean you can spend hours and hours sitting here going through each of these images and every little detail, but I'm basically showing you the main sort of structural changes of what I would do to a photograph to get it to where I want it to be. Going around the outside first making. (pencil drawing) Oh. (pencil drawing) Okay, real quick now make my brush really big. I'm going to go over this green, cuz I can mask that off. (pencil drawing) Okay. So, bringing the opacity of that down, I don't have to have much of it on there, but you can see, just changing those gold tones So instead of desaturating it and making it go gray, I've still got color in there. Just more of a kind of a reddy, reddy rusty tone, which is exactly what I want. So I make that about 30 percent with a layer mask and we can mask it off the little green gem if we wanted to. You can mask it off some of those little features as well it's entirely sort of up to you and how you bring out that detail. But with that, this is where those highlights and shadows come in and I would come around every highlight, highlight a bit more, every shadow darken it a bit more. Just to give it that more three-dimensional look. Okay, so I would go through the background there and I would adjust any of those sort of creases and folds there. I would add that light and dark, and then down the bottom here, where we've got this little area here. Where the lighter green was coming through, I can either change the color of that to the red to match that or, I can add a little bit more width in terms of the skirt area. So, what I'm gonna do is add a solid color, but before I do that, I'm gonna sample a similar color to what I want it to become. So I'm gonna come up here where it's a little bit brighter on the green dress. Sample that tone there, and you can see it's nice and green, and I'm gonna come down to solid color. And we can make it a little greener. Go up into these greens. What I love about this is at any point in time you can double click on that and change the color once you've painted it on. Okay so, I'm gonna change the layer mode here to multiply. Then I'm gonna bring back the opacity. So you can see to where it should be. Clicking on that mask, inverting that mask, and now I can brush that on at 100 percent to that, to make it the color that I want. To extend that green. And I'm doing this really rough, but you would zoom in and make sure you had all your lines right? (laugh) Don't be dodgy like this. Okay. And I would go around the edges here doing the exact same thing that I just did, but with the same color that's in that red, and I would cover up that white stitching. I don't mind if the stitching there, because it adds like a little bit of texture and detail, but I would sample the red, I would create a solid color, change the layer mode to multiply, and paint it on to that white stitching all the way around. But just by changing that color there, I've removed a distracting element that's drawing your eye away from the subject's face, which is what it is that we want. Okay. So, for this kind of image here, you can do a few things to kind of draw your eye in and out. The gradient map is a great one. I do like love the highlight here, but I wanna kinda darken that background behind her just a little bit more to make this lighting intense. So, new copy layer. I'm gonna come over here to my gradient tool. I've got the opacity here set to 47 percent, and I've got it on multiply. The background color is what I need to select, so if you hold the alt key in and select the background color this is where I've got the first option selected where it goes from a solid color to nothing. So, it's going to multiply the color that I choose right through to nothing. So what you do with the gradient tool is you draw a line. So I have my brush on my pen, but I'm gonna draw a line here, and wherever I stop the line it's gonna be the solid color wherever I finish the line it's going to be nothing. Does that make sense? So I'm multiplying that black, and you can see how it comes across like that. So before, and after, and I can darken down that background. So I'm gonna go all the way across and you can see how I'm starting to really darken that area down. What I can do is then adjust the opacity, I can use a black brush now to take it off face and other areas that I don't want it to be on. And this can just give you a little bit more control over your lighting. And come down this side of the body. (pencil drawing) It is such a great tool to do things like that on. So just drawing your eye in with that light is such a great way to really kind of create some impact here. And it's how I usually add vignettes now as well, because if you are using a one main light source and it's coming from over here, if you add a vignette to the entire image this shouldn't be a vignette where that light's coming in. So it's not consistent, so this is why I kinda tend to go this way. So, with this one I would come in and I would spend a bit of time on my skin and at this age you know they don't like blemishes. When my daughter gets them she likes to have them gone very quickly. So I would come in with the patch tool, with the spot healing brush. Look at that. And I use the spot healing brush here. So this is all depends on the age and the different things you do for the different ages, cuz what I'm gonna do for her I'm definitely not gonna do for say Janice. This has got the content aware, so I can just quickly go around here and remove some of the little blemishes that are on her face with that spot healing brush. And you can see just by removing those few little spots how quick that is to do it. So I would cover her whole area. I would probably darken down some of these highlights here that aren't necessary, and then I would add a little bit more light and shadow to her face to define those features. In terms of the fabric, it hangs beautifully. I don't really have to fix any creases or things like that. In terms of color you could really push this, but I'm kind of happy with exactly where this is and I would probably make this a really kind of contrasty striking image.

Class Description


  • Brainstorm and develop concepts for creative portraiture
  • Turn a client's story into a unique portrait
  • Design and build your own props and sets
  • Take great portraits of subjects at any age
  • Shoot and edit portraits with confidence
  • Increase the odds of success in photography contests
  • Move beyond traditional portrait photography


Tired of the traditional, overdone portraits? Dive into creative portrait photography by turning a client's story into stunning portraits with substance. Learn how to brainstorm concepts for a unique image based on a client's story and personality. Explore options for building your own unique set and props. Working with techniques like Photoshop composting and in-camera double exposures, learn how to turn abstract ideas into portraits with meaning.

Join Kelly Brown, a nationally recognized portrait photographer that's captured several awards for her storytelling abilities, and go behind the scenes for five live portrait shoots. Create portraits that span multiple age groups, with a behind-the-scenes look at portrait photography for newborns, children, teenagers, adults, and senior citizens. From brainstorming to editing, weave a meaningful story in front of the camera.

Following the live shoots and editing, Kelly shares insight into photography contests, from the submission process to tips for wowing the judges. Learn how to prepare an image for a print or digital competition.

This isn't the beginner's class on creating a good portrait with basics like depth of field and properly lighting the subject's face -- this is the portrait photography class for photographers ready to go beyond the basics to capture their best portraits yet using creative storytelling techniques. Stop regurgitating the same tired traditional portraits you've seen hundreds of time and capture creative portrait photography that inspires.


  • Intermediate photographers looking to break out of the norm
  • Professional photographers in a creative rut
  • Environmental portrait photographers


Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Camera RAW


As one of the most awarded portrait photographers, Kelly Brown is known for her knack for capturing creative portraiture. The owner of Little Pieces Photography in Brisbane, Australia, Kelly is most known for her work in the newborn genre, though her portraiture spans all ages. With a straight-forward, easy-to-follow teaching style, she's taught newborn photography and posing classes in more than 20 countries. As the judge for international print competitions and the winner of highly reputable contests such as the WPPI Photographer of the Year, Kelly also shares insight into photo contests with her students.


  1. Class Introduction

    Dive into storytelling portraiture with the why behind this type of photograph. Gain an overview of the course and see the story behind inspiring portraits.

  2. The Power of Portrait Photography

    Photography is powerful -- build the tools to unlock that power by using your own experience, challenges, and limitations to bring them to your portrait photography.

  3. Introduction to Newborn Portrait

    See the inspiration behind the newborn portrait and the props involved. Learn why Kelly designed the shoot the way that she did -- and how her creative storytelling grew her business. Touch on the elements that are different when photographing a newborn, including safety concerns.

  4. Find Inspiration for Newborn Portrait

    How do you find the inspiration for a storytelling portrait? In this lesson, Kelly discusses researching the subject -- the newborn -- digging into relevant topics, and finding inspiration for the shoot. See other samples of storytelling newborn photography and learn the story behind the images.

  5. Create The Scene for Newborn Portrait

    Take storytelling ideas for newborns and turn them into reality with handmade props. In this lesson, Kelly walks through different props she's created and how she went from the original inspiration to crafting a unique prop.

  6. Prepare & Pose Newborn for Portrait

    Kelly preps for the live shoot by checking the props and making sure everything is within easy reach. Gain tips for working with babies, including wrapping and posing.

  7. Shoot: Techniques for Photographing Newborn

    In the first live shoot, go behind the scenes as the story comes to life. Watch Kelly work with getting the baby settled and in position and gain shooting tips when working with newborns.

  8. Newborn Image Review

    While reviewing the images from the shoot, Kelly shares tips on composition, camera settings, and why she framed the image the way that she did. Gain additional insight into the shoot from student questions.

  9. Introduction & Find Inspiration For Child Portrait

    Dive into storytelling portraiture for children, starting with tips for finding inspiration. Build the ability to research and brainstorm ways to represent a child's story visually.

  10. Create The Scene for Child Portrait

    Building the setting for the story is an essential part of capturing a story online. Delve into creating a set -- or working with a composite -- for a portrait of a child. Learn tips on matching the lighting to the set during the photo shoot.

  11. Prepare Set for Child Portrait

    Build a set that creates an illusion while keeping the child safe. See the inspiration behind the set, then gain insight into tricks for creating special effects like fog and wind indoors.

  12. Shoot: Capture Child Portrait

    With behind the scenes access, see how Kelly created an imaginative shoot with minimal Photoshop work. Gain insight into posing and working with kids. When shooting portraits and a prop or element to the shoot doesn't work exactly as you thought, learn to tackle unexpected challenges.

  13. Image Review for Child Portrait

    See the results from the live shoot, including the exposure settings like shutter speed and focal length. As she reviews the images, Kelly further explains elements of the shot that she didn't detail during the live shoot.

  14. Introduction & Inspiration For Teenager Portrait

    The teen years can be a tough age -- so where do you find inspiration to create a storytelling portrait for a teenager? Kelly shares tips on finding inspiration for these portraits, as well as portraits that she's created in the past and where the ideas stemmed from.

  15. Create The Scene for Teenager Portrait

    Go behind the scenes for Kelly's prop designs for teen portraits. Learn how to build a unique wardrobe piece and craft unique props with a built-in light source. See a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the lighting and studio set-up.

  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.

  17. Shoot: Portrait with Teenager

    Craft a story for a portrait featuring a teenager, a technique that's great for high school senior portraits as well as any youth portraits. In this live shoot, see the lighting settings, the pose, the camera settings and more involved in the teen portrait.

  18. Shoot: Pose Teenager for Multiple Looks

    Introduce variety into the stylized portrait session by building in a variety of poses. Using the same props and set, go behind the scenes as Kelly builds several different shots into the same session.

  19. Image Review for Teenage Portrait

    See the results of the live shoot, including the camera settings for each shot. In this lesson, Kelly shares the shots and how she plans to continue the vision during photo editing. Gain additional insight from student questions.

  20. Introduction & Inspiration For Adult Portrait

    The more years a portrait subject has, the more stories they have to tell. Learn how to find inspiration, develop the ideas, create a storyboard, and work to bring a story to life for adults.

  21. Creating The Scene for Adult Portrait

    Go behind the scenes for an elaborate prop set-up for an adult breastfeeding portrait. See how Kelly turned the idea into a custom prop set.

  22. Lighting for Adult Portrait

    Lighting evokes the emotion of the story. See how lighting is essential to creating the mood for the image. Walk through the lighting set-up, including the modifiers, used for the next live shoot.

  23. Tell Your Subject's Story

    Meet the subject for the live shoot and learn his story. In this lesson, Kelly discusses the inspiration for the shoot and where the idea for the double exposure came from.

  24. Shoot: Lighting for Double Exposure

    In the live shoot, learn how to capture a double exposure portrait in camera. From framing each shot to working with lighting, watch the concept of the double life come to life in a portrait.

  25. Introduction to Senior Portrait

    The older generation often has the most incredible stories. In this lesson, Kelly shares tips for creating portraits of senior citizens that tell a story. Develop the ability to find and build inspiration in this lesson.

  26. Create Storyboard & The Scene For Senior Portrait

    From the subject's story, build a storyboard and scene to capture a portrait. See how Kelly assembled the set for the live shoot, and why each element went into the set.

  27. Connect With Client to Create Portrait

    Building a connection with the client is essential to learn their story in order to capture a true representation of the client. Watch Kelly work to build that connection, live on set.

  28. Shoot: Lighting for Senior Portrait

    Behind-the-scenes in this live shoot, perfect the set, composition, and lighting before taking the shot. Work with the light source modified by a softbox. Put it all together with the final shot and the perfect expression.

  29. Shoot: Be Creative on Set

    Add variety and creativity to the senior portrait by building in different poses. Gain insight into working with the older generation, including posing with a subject that likely won't be able to sit in one position or stand for long periods of time. Work to imitate the look of natural light, window light and even a curtain using studio lights when a window isn't available.

  30. Image Review for Senior Portrait

    Take a look at the RAW, unedited results of the live portrait session. Work through Kelly's thought process to improve each shot, taking better portraits with just minor tweaks.

  31. Portrait Shoots Recap

    Review all the images from the live shoots during the culling process. Kelly explains why planning the shoot helps to prevent overshooting, and what she looks for when selecting images.

  32. Global Adjustments in Camera Raw®

    With the shooting finished, jump into editing inside Adobe Camera RAW. Work with color temperature, get started adjusting skin tones, and work to keep composite edits consistent.

  33. Editing In Photoshop® CC: New Born Portrait

    Starting with the newborn portrait, develop a workflow for editing stunning portraits. Work with tools to correct perspective, apply a crop, fix the background, adjust props, perfect the skin tone and more.

  34. Editing In Photoshop® CC: Child Portrait

    When the expression on your favorite photo isn't quite perfect, learn how to swap faces inside Photoshop. Perfect the child portrait from the live shoot, including removing the safety clamps from the props and extending the background.

  35. Editing In Photoshop® CC: Adult Portrait

    Tweak the double exposure adult portrait from the live shoot. Learn how to remove a tattoo, fix highlights and shadows and more in this behind-the-scenes edit.

  36. Editing In Photoshop® CC: Teenager Portrait

    Work to perfect the teen portrait from the live shoot. Learn how to adjust the color of your props if you couldn't quite get it right when assembling them. Draw the eye to the portrait subject with a few editing tricks.

  37. Editing In Photoshop® CC: Senior Portrait

    Fine-tune the senior citizen portrait inside Photoshop. Work to draw the eye to the subject using a gradient tool and layer mask. Dodge and burn with a layer mask to continue to draw the eye when working with a busy environmental portrait.

  38. Introduction to Entering Print Competitions

    Photographs that tell a story are great for entering into competitions -- but how do you get an image noticed by the judges? In this lesson, Kelly discusses why you should enter photography competitions.

  39. Process of Print Competitions

    Photography contests follow a specific pattern. Pinpoint the difference between print and digital competitions, then walk through the process of preparing an image for a print competition.

  40. What to Consider For Print Competitions

    Sure, you probably considered factors like composition and sharpness as you shoot, but there's much more to consider when it comes to print competitions. Even the paper type that you choose for your photo plays a role in how that final image looks. In this lesson, Kelly walks through the different factors to consider for print.

  41. What Judges Look For Overview

    Understanding what the judges are looking for allows you to make the best choices when submitting to competitions. Dig into all the different elements that judges look for in a competition.

  42. Image Impact

    Creating an impact is essential to winning a photography competition and getting the judges attention. In this lesson, Kelly shares tips for making an impact on the judges.

  43. Creativity, Style & Composition in Images

    Composition meshes with creativity and style to tell a story. In this lesson, see a selection of images demonstrating how each element plays a role in the image as a whole -- and how that image performs in competitions.

  44. Entering Photography Competitions Q&A

    Gain additional insight into photography competitions with questions from students during the live class.

  45. Image Lighting

    Lighting helps create a mood in the image, from the source to the direction. In this lesson, Kelly expands on the portrait lighting tips from the live sessions with details on natural light, lighting direction, shadows, and more.

  46. Image Color Balance

    Color balance ties together creativity and style and keeps the image cohesive. Discuss using different colors to create emotions and tie together elements in a photograph.

  47. Technical Excellence in Images

    Technical excellence is essential to success in photography competitions. In this lesson, Kelly explains the technical details that the judges look for in a competition, and what photographers should consider before entering the image.

  48. Photographic Technique

    Gain insight into different tricks and techniques involved in creating an image. From building a connection with clients to demonstrate poses, pick up additional portrait photography tips using different techniques with a photography contest in mind.

  49. Storytelling & Subject Matter

    A story and subject that wows is key to getting a judge to look closer at a photograph. In the final lesson, gain final insight into capturing that story and choosing the subject.



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.