Portrait Study

Published on July 12, 2017

A Spoiled Rotten Portrait has 5 Characteristics, They are Authentic and E.P.I.C.

  1.  is Authentic
    • Our portraits should be a true representation of the child’s beautiful spirit.   
    • The portrait shouldn’t necessarily be how the child looks everyday, rather, how the child would look on their very best day.   
    • Expressions should be real and never contrived looking.
    • Props and settings are used to support the intended subject.
  2. technically Excellent
    • The image should be properly exposed with the proper color balance- skin tones are realistic.
    • Portraits are enhanced as to remove imperfections and distractions and never “over-photo-shopped.”
    • Lighting is “good” meaning it is directional, flattering,  and never flat.
    • Catch lights are usually in the 10 or 2 position
    • The background, props and clothing should be in harmony.
  3.  has flattering Posing 
    • The subjects pose should be natural and unforced- while adhering to the guidelines of posing.
    • If image does not show all of the body, arms and legs should never be severed at a joint.
    • If multiple people are in an image, each shares prominence (unless you are trying to highlight specific subject).
  4.  is Impactful 
    • When a person sees the image for the first time- how does it make them feel?
    • A great portrait portrays great emotion.  Weather it be happiness, sadness or somewhere in between- we want our portrait to leave a lasting impression on the viewer.
  5. has pleasing Composition
    • The elements of the portrait should work well with each other and not compete for interest.
    • In most cases the rule of thirds should be used.
    • The portrait should not have any merge errors.
    • The composition should allow for both 8×10 and 4×6 crop.When possible the pose should create triangles- arms and legs should never flail.

What is Good Light?

Image result for good lighting bad lighting portrait  Image result for good lighting bad lighting portrait 

Good light can be different depending on the mood you want to achieve.  In most cases, we are lighting a preschooler.  Here are some tips of what “good lighting” is for most of our preschool clients.

  • We want the lighting to be directional (not flat) 
    • This means you can tell which direction the main light is coming from.
    • Directional lighting gives the face depth and dimension.  It makes the subject appear more 3-dimensional than would be possible on the 2-dimensional photograph.

Image may contain: 1 person, text


  • Catchlights (reflections (usually white) from the light source) are visible and bright.
    •  In most cases we want both eyes to show catchlights.
    • Catchlights should be at the 10 or 2 positions.


Image may contain: one or more people

  • Eyebags are not prominent.
    • Usually if eyebags are prominent, the light source is too high
    • Most photos taken outside in the sun at noon, people tend to have prominent eye bags (racoon eyes)

Image may contain: 1 person


  • Lighting is soft and there are no harsh shadows.
    • The highlight to shadow transition is soft and not harsh 

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, child, text and closeup


  • In most cases the lighting pattern is “Short” 
    • Aiming the camera into the shadow side of the face produces a flattering shadow pattern and reduces the risk of harsh shadows.

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Discuss the following portraits… what characteristics do they have, and what do they lack?

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