How to have an awesome Christmas portrait

….in only TEN easy steps!

Start with a pretty awful, boring shot. As you can see, the focus is ONLY on this family, with no “pizazz” to really grab the viewer’s attention. I can teach you pizazz.

Step One:

Sharpen the poop out of the picture. Nothing says you know what you’re doing as a photographer more than a picture so crisp you could shave your armpits with it’s sharpness. I like to run my favorite web sharpening action on it at least 5 times. That oughta do it…

Step Two:

a WHITE vignette! Black vignettes are SO 2010, people. This is key, because it’s the first step in ridding ourselves of the bland background and moving towards a spicier image. Just make sure you set your opacity to 100%. All or nothing, no wafflers allowed in this business.

Step Three (and possibly my favorite):

The Diffuse Glow. Ahhhh. Because we all just need to seem a little bit more angelic than we actually are. A side bonus is that even MORE of the background is fading! You are on your way to pizazz, my friend!

Β Step Four (this may tie for favorite step):

Run at least three actions on the image at full opacity. Don’t bother tweaking any of them, these action makers don’t want you messing with their creations! Also, I’ll let you in on a little secret… doesn’t matter what three actions you run, they will nearly always turn out looking like my image here. Gorgeous. Just make sure to NOT change the opacity. 100% baby….gotta go all in. Clients can take natural pictures, what makes you a photographer is your ability to make a picture look UNNATURAL.

Step Five:

Make mom skinnier. Liquify that chick until she looks doggone amazing. Notice how I shrank this mom’s unsightly dominant chin. I also took the liberty of removing every smile line from under the subjects’ eyes. Those are just gross and make you look old. I’m pretty sure that youngest child is three…no three year old should look like a grandmother. Again, this is what will show your clients that you know what you’re doing!

Step Six:

Props can be EXPENSIVE. Did you know that you can just purchase ONE prop and then photoshop it onto everyone’s head? Yep. No one will be able to tell and you’ll save yourself a trip to the dollar store! Go buy yourself a latte from Starbucks, you deserve it!

Step Seven:

The outdoors are yucky. There are bugs, it can be cold (or hot!) and let’s face it…you can’t control the sun, so while that tree may seem like a good spot for a shoot, the sun may not be working in your favor. This is when you simply add those in! Along with some snow at the bottom!

Your fellow photographer friends will be *dying* to know this location! πŸ˜‰

Step Eight:

Google “how to make fake snow in photoshop”

Step Nine:

That tree looked boring AND this family forgot to bring their new kitten! Mom asked if I could “Just photoshop him in” and I said, “You BETCHA!” Whether it’s cloning out a bra strap, photoshopping crumbs off babies’ faces, or adding in a missing relative or pet…I’m always eager to play around in Photoshop! SO MUCH FUN! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

And lastly, the Tenth Step:

Add a border at the top to finish it up, along with text–making sure to bevel and drop shadow to your heart’s content! Also make sure to add a possessive apostrophe in the family’s name, since no one likes a know-it-all!

There you have it! Now you can provide YOUR clients with amazing Christmas portraits! πŸ™‚

You. Are. Welcome.

(P.S. any questions about how this was done can be directed to Erin Tole…this is right up her alley, and I *could* be wrong but I believe she is writing an e-book teaching a similar processing style)

  1. Meghan says:

    So im pretty new and Im looking at this going thats awful!!! That cant really be Rachel Vanovens advice, as the pictures got worse and worse and the language funnier and funnier im like….gotta be sarcasm..then the hats popped in!!!!! Im like thats freaking hilarious! -Good one!

  2. Ashlyn says:

    Too funny, and scary that ppl do this…,,

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