A Simple Way to Create Stylized Portraits

Want to spice up your location portraits? This tutorial from Adorama instructor Gavin Hoey takes us through a simple setup, shoot, and post-processing session that will get your creative juices flowing. Take a look:

Great location portraits generally need just three things: a good model, a beautiful location, and a proficient photographer. But that doesn’t mean they’ll catch the viewer’s attention. Adding a bit of creativity–stylization, in this case–can be just what the doctor ordered if you’re wanting to spice up your work and set yourself apart from the crowd.

What is a Stylized Portrait?

Stylized portraits are those that don’t realistically represent the physical world. In other words, they add a bit of interpretation and creative flair. In Hoey’s case, he takes a theme–bringing the inside outside–and uses it to create a momentary world that would normally not exist. On her own in this location, the shots would likely seem a bit ordinary. Adding a theme and a few unusual set pieces and props gives a whole new dimension to the shoot.

Setting up for a stylized photo


The lighting, in this case, is pretty simple–a Glow HexaPop 24″ Portable Softbox with a Flashpoint Xplor600 Flash. It would have been cool if he had also used an LED in the lamp, but it’s still a pretty interesting scene without it.

Increasing the contrast via the layers panel


Hoey’s post-processing is also quite simple and took maybe five minutes. He added a bit of warmth via the color balance adjustment panel, created a quick sun effect with the paintbrush, and then added contrast via the levels panel. From what I can see, he didn’t even adjust the clarity (in Lightroom).

The finished photo

While stylized portraits don’t always need to have a theme, themes do help. Can you think of any that are as strong, yet as easily executable as this one?

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