Category Archives: Portraiture


I captured this chance image at a music festival earlier in the summer. I was struck by both the outfit and the pose and immediately snapped.

The only editing I performed was to crop the image, apply some negative clarity in Adobe Camera RAW and tweak the colour curves. Finally I added a vignette.

Frankie The Gambler

Not only are Frankie The Gambler great on stage but they’re also naturals in front of the camera. We took this shot at Wilkestock, using an old Chesterfield on the grass nearby (the bar is surrounded by old sofas – a festival quirk!).

We took a number of shots of the band in various eccentric poses but this was by far the standout image. Post-production editing included blurring the background, removing a slightly distracting member of the bar staff, cross-processing the colour and adding a vignette. You can see the original image by hovering your mouse over the picture. You can also click on the image to see a bigger picture.


Last month I spent a couple of hours working with a friend’s daughter Becca, producing a selection of studio and location shots for her portfolio. The studio shots were taken using my portable background and lighting whilst the location shots were taken around a local church.

The aim was to produce a selection of both colour and black and white images featuring various angles and poses, and Becca was very easy to work with.

We spent a couple of hours with different seating arrangements and lighting configurations using the studio before moving out to the church. Luckily the weather was on our side and the outdoor shots were all in the shade, so there were no issues with bright sunlight.

A couple of interesting edits to the colour photos included the removal of a wheelie bin (I noticed this before shooting but wasn’t able to move it) and the recolouring of Becca’s hair.

Our two hours together produced over 20 finished images and I’m very pleased with the results, as was Becca.

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I recently took this headshot of Dan using my mobile studio set up in the living room at home.

I used a pop-up background by a window to provide a backlight and a pair of softboxes to light the subject. The whole session lasted just five minutes.

I then used Photoshop to remove the colour and a diffuse glow effect and vignette to produce the final stylised image.

Update: Dan has used this photo in his book Cricket Banter by Dan Whiting and Liam McKenna

Pre-shoot Consultations

Many assignments start with a pre-shoot consultation, during which I discuss a client’s requirements, timescales and delivery of the finished job.

For photography involving people, such as portraiture, lifestyle and event photography, we’ll sit down and chat about what you’re looking for and the environment in which the shoot will take place. With any such assignment it’s important for me to see the location beforehand so that I can get an idea of lighting, shooting angles and features within the environment that might be used to advantage, or those that may present difficulties. For Portraiture and Lifestyle Photography we’ll also discuss what you’ll wear and any accessories that you might use.

For product photography, a pre-shoot consultation gives me an opportunity to see the product and get an idea of how you want to use the images and the sort of results you want to see.

Another important part of the process is to establish a relationship with the client, something I regard as an important part of doing business.

Portraiture On Location

The time and weather often dictates the schedule when it comes to location photography. Any outdoor setting is going to be subject to the weather so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the forecast in the days before a shoot and to have a secondary location in mind.

Good outdoor locations include parks, fields, rivers, stately homes and gardens, ancient ruins, farms and churches.

You can add interest by using bridges, walls, steps and trees either as a backdrop or as part of the composition. Needless to say, lighting isn’t going to be much of a challenge with most of these locations, unless you choose dawn or dusk to take the photos.

Indoor locations that provide a good setting include churches, where you can use pews, doorways and balconies to good effect; abandoned buildings and railways for drama or mood; and the interior of stately homes or grand buildings for elegance.

All of these need proper assessment before the shoot to get an idea of their suitability and to identify any risk factors.

Attention should also be paid to backgrounds and lighting. Indoor locations particularly need to be checked for combinations of natural and artificial lighting and unwanted distractions.

Daisy & Jo

I recently did a Sunday afternoon shoot with a couple of teenage girls, Daisy and Jo. We spent about an hour and a half in a variety of locations, including a local common and nearby churchyard. Both girls had ideal hair colouring for the Autumn backdrop and I was very pleased with the results.

Jo in particular with her auburn hair made a perfect match for the orange and browns of the fallen leaves, as well as the moss and greenery surrounding the cemetary stonework.

I produced a selection of processed images in both colour and monochrome, variously adding soft focus and subtle vignettes. As it was a somewhat blustery day I also had to clone out the odd stray hair as well.

You can see more of Daisy and Jo at

For more information about my portraiture and people photography services visit

Portraiture: What To Wear

A question that invariably comes up at pre-shoot consultations is that of what to wear.

My advice would be to avoid strongly patterned or distracting clothing. Bright colours and short sleeves are also best left in the wardrobe. Dark tops with light bottoms are also discouraged as the eye is initially attracted to the lighter parts of a photo and we don’t really want the focus to be on the lower body.

Families or other groups might want to think about co-ordinated colours. Choosing clothes with same or similar colours unifies a picture and keeps the focus on the people in the picture. As an example, a group could all wear a simple white tops and jeans, although some people might regard this as clichéd, whilst other would describe it as “classic”. Another suggestion would be for everyone to wear black and white. Pastel colours also work well.

If you’re being photographed as an individual, think about what your clothes say about you. Classic styles are often recommended as they don’t date, so if the photograph is going to be around for a while, don’t wear something that will go out of fashion over time. Alternatively, if you want to express yourself du jour, or of the moment, go ahead and flaunt your personality. Also think about accessories – belts, hats, jewellery, glasses etc. You might also consider props – a favourite book, toy or other object – something that speaks about who or what you are.

Other items to avoid: bulky sweaters, turtlenecks, thick scarves. If you’re having your hair cut for a photo session, do it about a week before, allowing the cut to settle in.

Portraiture Effects

I’ve recently taken some more shots of local actor Ian Houghton and I used the opportunity to introduce a bit of drama by applying a few effects.

Portrait of actor Ian Houghton

The Dragan effect accentuates detail and contrast, whilst pulling out some of the colour saturation. It was pioneered by Polish photographer Andrzej Dragan and is often used for character portraits.

Another effect I’m quite keen on is Diffuse Glow, which is can easily be achieved in Photoshop, Picasa and other photo editing applications.

Portrait of Ian Houghton featuring diffuse glow effect

This can be seen as having the opposite effect to Dragan, in that it softens the picture and reduces contrast, making the skin textures appear smoother.

Both of these shots were taken in Ian’s conservatory, using a pop-up background and single softbox to balance out the natural lighting.

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