Friday, February 27, 2015

Before and After Business Portrait

Ashley Before and After

Ashley is a Toronto-based illustrator who specializes in cut-paper collage. Her illustrations have appeared in a variety of magazines and children’s publications, as well as posters, packaging, clothing lines, animations and set design. When her work is exhibited or published she is often required to provide a contributor profile photo, so she wanted a portrait that would depict her as the professional she is.

In Ashley's case, I didn't have to do a whole lot to "make her pretty" as she is pretty already, and doesn't really struggle with being unphotogenic. However, there are still a few important differences between the before and the after shots.

To begin, we looked at the wardrobe she brought and chose a solid coloured, structured and flattering jacket, which would look good on her, and look appropriately professional for an artist. Then we looked through her jewellery and chose a necklace and earrings pairing that would complete her look in an understated way, and not draw attention away from her face. Ashley arrived with her hair and make-up done as she would normally do them. So once we'd steamed the jacket and she was changed, I asked her to have a seat so I could take her picture. See frame 1 above left. Not bad, really! It's sweet, but it's a little tentative.

So what did we do? 

1) I added a touch of eyeliner, and some lip gloss, which didn't take away from her natural look, just enhanced it, and made her look a little more grown up. (Oh, to have the problem of looking too young! But too youthful a look can be a disadvantage.) We used a bit of hair spray to subtly style her hair. I am not a hair stylist or a make-up artist, but in the absence of professional stylists, I can help. 

2) We changed Ahley's posture and position to give some energy, confidence and shape to her body.

3) Then we worked together to elicit a confident, friendly, approachable expression.

4) Once we selected the winning final shot, I got to work retouching. What was needed was going to be subtle but important: a. hair: shape, hair on shoulder, fly aways, and split ends that catch highlights, b. lapel which was sort of sticking up in the selected frame because of a stubborn crease, c. cleaning up of eyes, and lightening under eyes, d. teeth (just a very slight whitening), e. skin: winter wreaks havoc on delicate facial skin making it dry and less smooth than it would be under ideal circumstances, and f. crop (I cropped both the before and after so they'd look more similar as possible for comparison purposes). 

Now Ashley has a strong, professional looking headshot.

I want to finish off here by sharing one of the shots we got at the very end of the shoot.

After the more formal portrait, we did a few looser, more casual portraits, which in Ashley's case would also be very appropriate for her personal profile pic. By the time we got to these, Ashley had changed into more casual wardrobe and she was able to be even more relaxed in front of the camera; her energy and down to earth personality really shine through. I look at these pics and I feel her's contagious...and ideally that's the effect these shots will have on all the viewer's of her portrait.

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