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Introduction & Inspiration For Adult Portrait

Lesson 20 from: Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Kelly Brown

Introduction & Inspiration For Adult Portrait

Lesson 20 from: Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Kelly Brown

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Lesson Info

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.


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

Introduction & Inspiration For Adult Portrait

It's been incredible to be here and create these images and to share with you my thought process behind them, to share with you how I come up with these ridiculous ideas sometimes, and how I execute them as well. But as you've seen so far, I've used completely different techniques with every single set-up which is what I wanted to do. I didn't wanna come here and create five photographs, five portraits using the same techniques, because then that's no fun. And I think the best part about this is we push, we need to push ourselves outside our comfort zone, so that we can learn and explore, and truly have some fun. Because you know when you are able to create, it's just so nourishing for the soul. And it can be addictive (laughs). Okay. So when I'm photographing adults, again I'm incredibly inspired by their stories because they lived. When you have a new-born, they've lived for three weeks (laughs). You know. When you've got a child, they're going through, you know, different challenges...

and different situations in such a short period of time, so you can come up with more sort of, you know like a story-telling in terms of, huh.. you know, story books, and using your imaginations, more fictional sort of set-up and things like that. When it comes to photographing adults, I'm really focused on them, and who they are as people. So I'm excited to be able to share with you this particular set-up that we're going to do today with Remond because, gosh, this is gonna be fun, doing a double exposure live on camera. I've only ever done this in my studio, and playing around, and you know, doing things with flowers and trees and other backgrounds. But to share this live on, on, on creative live is pretty incredible. So we're gonna have some fun doing that. So I wanna take you through again finding that inspiration, and I've talked a lot about talking to your models and clients. But particularly, when it comes to photographing adults, this is where I find the most inspiration in terms of the story. I'm gonna share with you some more personal photographs in a moment. But you know everyone has gone through something in their life time. And whether or not they want to share it, whether or not they want to bring that to the the forefront of creating actual art work with it, it's entirely up to them. So when I was communicating with the model today, you know, it was all about whether or not he was comfortable with sharing, you know part of his past, in term of creating this beautiful photo that's going to really represent what he's achieved, you know, in his life, and where he's come from. So things like that bit. When you talked earlier, you know, in the, in the series about creating that's meaningful for the person in the photograph, I'm not creating this photograph for anyone but Remond. This is for him. And that's where this thought comes from. And that's where I'm getting this inspiration from. But again what I did was I still even though I'm inspired by his story and this is the story I wanna tell, I'm still going to places like Pinterest, I'm still researching different things that I can do. And I did come up with some sort of pretty far out concepts, but I wanna keep this really kind of positive, and empowering, because that's what it needed to be. But that's my interpretation of it. So obviously if you are communicating with people about the stories, you have to be able to, you know, get the right information from them and able to know: do you want me to make this more story-telling in term of illustrative and bring in lots of different creative elements to this, or do you want me to keep it really simple, classy and communicate the story in a different way. So that's the information that you need to be able to ask, you know, during those interview processes that you've got with the families that are coming in. And the brain-storming here. A lot of what we are gonna create throughout the set-up has come from brain-storming, and going :"Oh what if I do this? Or what if I do this. Is this gonna work?" And going through that process of elimination of ruling out all of the sort of factors that might not you know, be able to make it work, and then sort of focusing on some of those more positive things to be able to bring this bring this image, I suppose, to life, which is pretty cool. So Pinterest was definitely my friend for this one. We're gonna create double exposures, but when you look at double exposures on Pinterest, there are so many. This photograph, I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with it, but it's been around. I created this image about four years ago for my mom. So she was 68, huh, sorry, 58, when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is the type of leukemia that children get. So quite rare for someone who's 58 to actually be diagnosed with that type of leukemia. And it was so left-filled. Like my mom's worked, you know, hard in her entire life. She's always been really energetic. We played in the same sport teams. like I used to play basketball against this woman. I tell you I was scared. Like she's always been so athletic and strong and for this to kind of, you know, hit her it was, it was pretty hard on, you know, not only her but all of us. So mom went through her treatment. The first week of actually being diagnosed she had a heart attack. Not because that she, you know, had an unhealthy life or anything like that. She actually had pristine valve apparently. But leukemia affects the blood and the tissue, and it weakened the valve which tore one of the major arteries going to her heart, and created a flapping effect which stopped blood flow to her heart. So in her first week, we nearly like lost her which was really really hard for us. So getting through that whole process and watching her go through treatment for six months, and hospital was not only tough on her, it was extremely tough, but tough on all of us to watch it happen. And for anyone out there that's experience that, you know, it's, it's not nice at all. And this is the first time I've ever really talk publicly about this so but it's taken four years to be able to do that. But creating this image was actually collaboration with her. What happened was she needed a bone marrow transplant, and there wasn't anyone on the list that matched her, her cells. So what we did was we created a blog post and some photographs, and it was basically a sign-up-now to become a bone marrow donor. You don't even have to go out and have bone marrow taken to become a donor. They literally put a swap inside your mouth, and it goes on the registry, and one day you might be contacted to say you could save a child's life, or my mother's life. So three weeks after I did this blog post, I think nearly 400 shares, my mom got a phone call, and she got a donor. He was a eight out of ten match, and he lived in the UK. And they flew that bone marrow all the way to Australia. So I personally like to think that in creating these photographs helped in some way. Even if it didn't get her, if it wasn't the reason she got a match, it may helped someone else out there needing a match. So sometimes when I was creating these photographs, they are for other reasons. And I think I achieved what I set out to do in term of making the bone marrow registry more you know, obvious, and making it aware for people to perhaps join it. So I set out to do something and I achieved it with this photograph. And it makes people uncomfortable, but I'm ok with it. Because sometimes we need to feel uncomfortable when we look at photographs. They have to tell us that story. So all of the words written in the background were written by my mom. And she wrote them down on a piece of paper, and I overlaid them into the background. So two weeks before she was diagnosed, she was at my house. She didn't look very well actually, but she was at my house. It was her day off and she was just sitting there, and I got a new lens. So I'm like, let me test out this lens. And then two weeks later, she was diagnosed. So didn't know at this point in time. So then I went to take the second photo, I was like, I come across this. I was like, I didn't even know that I was taking that photo for a reason. And it was this same kind of expression, so I had her hold up a piece of paper and that's how we created that. But it tells a story. It's been done before. The piece of paper being held up has been done in so many occasions by other photographers. And that's ok. You can take inspiration. But if you are going to use a concept that's been done before, just make sure you make it your own. And yes, because it sort of speaks for itself, even if you've seen another photograph using the same concept, it's completely its own image. I was really lucky enough to, you know, mom encouraged me to enter into the photography awards. And she actually sat with me at the judging and watched it get judged, which was pretty cool. She's still with us. She's still alive, still, still going on. She's doing well. So the outcome of this has been really incredible, which is amazing. So she watched that image get judged, and it's got an 98 in Australia, and the score is out of 100. So I was absolutely blown away with that. And then when I entered it to WPBI, it's scored 100. So it moved the judges so much that they were challenged in how to score it. But obviously it wasn't just the impact of the story in the photograph, it was the presentation, the print, and all of those things that I'm gonna cover in that segment when I talk about entering competitions. So I'm creating story boards for this kind of thing. You know, they are more sort of personal story boards, and they are more well-thought in term of telling that person's story, because, you know, that story can be quite great. So it is more focused on that individual, and finding different elements that you can bring to it. But when you're creating the story boards, you're looking at what sort of colors and tone do you wanna bring to this. What sort of, you know, how do you want to bring that color harmony into it to create that right mood and tone. You know, in terms of composition, all of those things. So you're gonna create story boards based on, you know, your color, your style, your pose, your lighting. Not just the picture you find you think is great, You're gonna start to break down all the different elements of the photograph, and then find images, find things that are gonna represent those elements. And then you're gonna look at it, and then you're gonna circle that big piece of paper, you're gonna go: "Right. That's the lighting I want. That's the color harmony I want. I love this pose." Then you're gonna start to bring all those elements together to create your own.

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