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Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Lesson 18 of 49

Shoot: Pose Teenager for Multiple Looks


Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Lesson 18 of 49

Shoot: Pose Teenager for Multiple Looks


Lesson Info

Shoot: Pose Teenager for Multiple Looks

So in terms of what we're gonna do next, there's so many different sort of things you can do, like we could have Maya stand and we'll take this chair out, so just stand carefully for me. And 17, she's a young adult, but I'm really careful when I'm posing younger girls and trying not to make them look too much older than what they actually are. When we talked earlier about photographs being age-appropriate, I think that's really important. I don't want Maya to look like she's 25, but I don't want her to look like a small child, either, but I do want her to embrace, you know, the space that she's in and really hold that space because I think that's important. So the energy that you bring to these sessions is equally as important to be able to get what you want to get, because if you're not, you know, bringing that right energy to the space, it's gonna make or break a shoot. So I could turn Maya away from this light, so if you just turn away towards Garrett, I just want you to have a look...

at the lighting. Now turn your face back towards me. So now, that light's gonna hit her face, and then we're gonna light this beautiful, sort of dark sort of shape here, but you've got this light over here that's gonna come and fill her hair over here, as well. So I'm gonna try this first, because I think this is really quite powerful. And what I want you to do with your hands is just kind of have them in front of you like that just resting beautifully. So I'm not giving her curves, I'm not doing anything. I'm just getting her to stand really tall and proud which I think is really important for this type of shot that I wanted to create. Just making sure we can't see any white there. Perfect, now I'm not gonna be photographing. Just turn this way just a bit. I'm not gonna be photographing full length here. I could, but I'm just gonna start by getting a shot from kind of like, thigh up. And I'm gonna go portrait for this. And that's it, I just want you to look over here and just kind of like, chin down just a little bit. That's it, beautiful. So I'm just moving that focus point. I keep looking at the back of my camera, but it's not gonna come up. (chuckles) Oh, beautiful. So what I might do is just get this light pulled back further just a little bit. Yeah, that is lovely. Hair is the one thing I hate retouching in Photoshop. I'm always quite fanatical about getting it right in camera and what I can see here is just a few little hairs on her eyelashes, so I'm just gonna try and get those off. Just close your eyes for me. There it is. Perfect, open. Is that better? You've still got one there, close. There it is. Happens every day. (laughing) So because I'm trying to get this beautiful catch light in the eye, you know, and that focus, really nice and sharp, but there's a hair going right across the middle of her eyeball. Yeah, beautiful. That's it, nice and strong. Yeah, that's much better. Turning that, bringing that light back just a bit so it's a bit darker, big moodier. We've still got light coming in over here in the background, filling those shadows. We can bring it up just a tad. It's a bit dark on this screen. Okay, you ready? Good job, nice and strong, that's it. Yeah, much better. So what I did was I just brought that down to F 4.5. I was on 5.6, so that I've got a little bit more light in there. Now I love this really simple pose. I think it's just, it's elegant, it's not all, you know, not about changing her body shape or anything like that. I want you to turn this way now, towards me. Keep turning, keep turning. Okay, now turn around this way a bit more. That's it, back. And then I want you to come, oh, you've lost a bit. We lost a clamp. We're not gonna see it, so I'll just clamp it here. Okay. So turn your body this way for me and now bring your face back towards that light, and what we're gonna do is light this side here. So with this kind of thing, what I'm gonna look for is the different poses, the different directions towards the light, and then when I get them all side by side on my computer, I can then choose which one's going to be the most powerful, striking pose. And I might give her a few different ones. Actually, what I'm gonna do is bring this down, and we'll show a little bit of shoulder here. There we go, and just bring your arm across your body. Perfect. We'll do the same on this side. There we go. Yeah, and I think just holding your hands there like that really simply. Yeah, that's beautiful. So what I might do for this one is just take the crown off. And you can already start to see that light coming across here. Beautiful. Yeah, turn your face towards me a little more. Actually, go back this way. I really like that, and then looking straight towards Garrett, maybe. Actually, back towards the light. Yeah, this way. And the light, I was looking at where her eye was falling. So when she looked at Garrett, if you see that, look at Garrett. See how now it's all white in the eye? Look back this way. Now I can start to see eye. So where you get them to look is also quite important in terms of getting that connection, 'cause even though they're not looking at the camera, you still want to get some form of connection. So I'm gonna keep my settings the same and have a look at this light. Yeah, that's a bit bright, so what I might do is turn that down a bit. Ooh, that's a bit darker there. Okay. Now I want you to put your chin down slightly for me. Like chin out and down, that's it, and just relax. So looking down towards your hands. Just relax a little bit, look down, chin down, chin down, chin down, chin down. Beautiful. I'm looking for that hair to fall off her face. And just bring this hand over the top here or yeah, nice and soft, that's it. One thing I think we all forget to do is move when we're photographing, don't we? We get stuck in our places and our poses. Just turn, bring your chin around towards me and looking down towards your hands, chin down, chin down, relax, that's it. Yeah, it's really kind of dark and moody, that one. So it's a completely different look than what I was going for before, but I love that because sometimes, you start out with a plan and then you're like, ooh, let me see this. And she's got this gorgeous hair that's framing her face. All right. Let's go with one more shot, and you're going to be front on to the camera, standing like this. So the only downside to this fabric with using it for something like this is the white seams on the edge, but that's okay. Hey, going all right? You're being very patient for me. All right, so your hands across there. And now this, I want you to be very strong, and you're gonna look directly at the camera there. And I just want to bring that hair off her face, because if I don't, it's gonna create some shadows. Gorgeous. Okay. You're gonna be dead onto me, and you're gonna own it, and you're gonna be nice and powerful and strong. Just chin forward towards me a little more like this. That's it, beautiful. Okay. So we're looking at our light, I've not changed it. We've got it pointing in this direction. I'm gonna want it going here and I'm gonna want it higher. And if possible, can I get it over here in this space? Right here, yeah. Oh, it's plugged into the wall. (chuckles) That's all right. That'll do, and a little higher. Yeah. That's what we want. Beautiful. That's it. Just perfect. Yeah, that's much better, that light. Absolutely beautiful. Well, I'm not gonna make her suffer underneath those three blankets any longer, 'cause she's gonna get overheated, but thank you so much. You looked absolutely beautiful, and it's so fun just to play with fabric and drape it and just those posing and the lighting can turn something from a pair of jeans and a singlet top into something really quite striking and powerful, but you know, the ultimate goal here was to make Maya feel strong and own that space and she looked it in the photographs, which was really cool, and you did look like a queen. Thank you. All right? And it's important that kids see and she's not a kid, she's a young adult. It's important that they see how, you know, how amazing they are. Like to show you that, and that's what the power of photography does. It shows people who they are. It shows you all of those things whether, you know, you like them or not. So thank you. Yeah, didn't she do well? (audience claps)

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.