Creating a Timeless Portrait – Part 2

I2I_6773 retouched
Designing a successful portrait
Tips on preparing for your portraits
-Turtle necks or V-necks are flattering provided that neither is exaggerated in style. Avoid very wide or particularly drop V-neck garments or bulky cowl neck sweaters that completely hide the neck.
-For close-up portraits, long sleeves are critical for teens and adults, as bare arms call attention to themselves and will overpower the face.
-Women being photographed in full length should wear long skirts, trousers or dark stockings in order to keep the eye from being directed toward the legs and away from the face.
-If feet are to show in the portrait, assure that shoes and stockings/tights are in keeping with the visual intent of the portrait.
-Men should be clean shaven or facial hair should be carefully groomed, with their hair cut about one week before the portrait session. Women should be photographed whenever they are happiest with their hair in relation to the time it is styled.
Memorable portraits take careful planning. The clothing you choose is very important to your portrait’s success. These guidelines will help you to make important decisions about the clothing and style of your artwork.
Clothing for individuals
The goal of any fine portrait is to direct the viewer to the face(s) in the portrait. All other elements should be secondary. For individuals, simple long-sleeved garments in medium to dark tones of brown, grey, burgundy, green or blue are pleasing choices when photographed against a medium or dark background.
Because darker clothing is slimming, it often is a good choice for close-up, full-length or three-quarter length portraits in which a medium to dark background is used. Bold stripes, plaids, checks and prints are visually confusing and do not photograph well. Bright colours such as pink and orange will overwhelm the face and ruin a portrait. Light colours that approximate flesh tones will overpower the face and make the subject look unusually pale.
Decorating your home with Portraits
“Giving life to your personal art work begins with a planning session, during which you and the photographer or design consultant can explore your ideas and discuss creative possibilities.
When the finished work is on display in your home or office, it will serve as both a tasteful reflection of your individualised decorating style and a tribute to the ones you love.
A well-designed portrait, when it is properly sized, creates a decorative focal point that can add both drama and personality to any room in your home.”

Creating a Timeless Portrait – Part 1


Planning the best decorative investment you’ll ever make…an investment in yourself and your family’s heritage.

About clothing, colour, tone and style
When more than one person is to appear in the portrait, or when a special stylistic effect is desired, clothing and prop choices can make or break a portrait.

Skin tone considerations
Whether working with light ir dark complexions, the objective is for the face to dominate the portrait. Accordingly, skin highlights must be the lightest or brightest, most intense areas of the portrait. So, when a medium to dark background is used, all subjects photograph best in medium to dark tones, whatever the skin tone.

Clothing for small groups
Couples or small groups should choose simple garments within the same tonal ranges. When subjects appear in a mixture of light and dark tones together, there is a visual confusion – as the light colour comes forward and the dark colours recede. When this happens (e.g.) one person dominates and appears heavier than in reality.

Clothing for families
In a family group, proper clothing consideration is critical. When decorating a home a major consideration is to coordinate the colours and tones of the walls, carpets, drapes and furniture. Similar coordination is necessary when selecting clothing for a group portrait. Choose clothing in the same tonal ranges so that no single member of the family stands out because the clothing is too light or bright as compared to the rest of the group.

Proper clothing selection makes the difference between a portrait that appears to be a group of seemingly unrelated individuals and one in which every member of the family “belongs” to the group. Casual clothing compliments portraits made in outdoor environments.

Creating style and personality
Your goal is to create portraiture as individual as the subjects we photograph. Tools include various styles, techniques and settings that make each portrait a unique artwork.

International Judging and Scoring Systems in Photography – Part 10 – “Composition”

PART 10 – On the subject of Composition – Geometry, Symmetry and Perfect Proportion…

3. Composition

So, what are the visual elements that make a great composition? My contention is that our pre conditioning as human beings makes us deeply receptive to all of the elements of geometry that surround us in our daily lives. It is how we bring together elements within a photographic image that makes it either pleasing or displeasing. The phrase, “What’s the point?” springs to mind. For if the compositional elements fail to draw the viewer to the critical viewpoint, or more familiarly, the point of the image, then it has in truth, failed.

To briefly examine the compositional elements and tools I will refer to a useful and ancient text. A point. The first mark an artist makes on his canvas? The point of view? The critical point of interest?. It is undoubtedly the beginning and the end of an image, the ‘whole point’ if you like. In progression, once the artist has made his first mark this often extends into a line.

Lines are like railroad tracks or Motorways. They take you from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ where you know point ‘B’ exists even if you cannot see it!. This is manifested in many ways in an image as a ‘Vanishing Point’ or simply a line that leads us directly to where we as artists, wish the viewer to arrive at the critical point. A careful use of ‘Leading Lines’ within an image makes for a very powerful composition indeed.

Lines when joined together in a two dimensional form become surfaces or ‘superficie’ and surfaces in turn, when joined together in a geometric manner become solids perceptually when directional light is applied thereby resulting in a graphic two dimensional form emerging into a three dimensional vision. Therefore, directional light combined with strong lines, surfaces and points have become the essential elements of any composition. That is the beauty of Geometry, Symmetry and Perfect Proportion. Nothing new. Nothing uniquely photographic. Just the knowledge of the “Ancients” continuing to play its part in the 21st Century.

Martin Grahame-Dunn’s ‘Freefall’ CPD Mentoring Programme

‘Freefall Continuous Professional Development Photographic Mentoring Programme’


“A wise and trusted counselor or teacher. An influential senior sponsor or supporter. A person’s ’mentor’ is someone who gives them help and advice over a period of time”
The Preamble
This is a continuous professional development mentoring programme designed to meet the needs of every aspiring photographer no matter what their current skill level. From my vast experience in the industry, much of it in the Commercial, Advertising and Fashion sector where the maxim was, “If its in front of your lens, deal with it!”, my task is to prepare you to do just that by nurturing a significant increase in key photographic skills.
I am applying the term “Freefall” just as in parachuting, where you jump out of an aircraft, bravely, into the great blue yonder and perform feats that you could only dream of doing before making a safe landing then, on your feet, with confidence, set to do it all again!
Every participants personal agenda will differ, perhaps significantly from another. However, the ‘Common Skills’ are essential to all no matter what you shoot! Things you may have taken for granted will be revisited and examined in depth. In your One2One Skype Sessions you will be able to discuss with me, in private, your own personal development. There are no such things as stupid questions. Rarely is there any such thing as a bad student either, but there are bad teachers! All I ask is that you participate with an open mind and rule out no possibilities to widen your experience and create a healthy business.
The Mechanics
Monthly 1 Hour One2One Skype Sessions
Bi-Monthly Team Development Days – At least 2 per year of the 6 at my Leamington base and the remainder at members studios (where possible) or on specific locations
Dedicated Team Facebook Page
Reasonable Telephone access to your Mentor
Subjects Covered
  • Camera Craft
  • Lenses
  • Gadgets & Accessories
  • Natural Lighting
  • Natural Lighting with Reflectors
  • Studio Flash
  • Off Camera Flash on Location
  • Balanced Lighting Techniques (OCF and Ambient)
  • Continuous Lighting
  • Ice Light
  • Balancing Interior Light with Supplementary Light for Mood
  • Basic Compositional Skills
  • Advanced Compositional Skills
  • Designing an Image
  • Basics of Posing
  • Advanced Posing Techniques
  • Command and Control Techniques
  • Creative & Art Direction
  • Angles and Curves
  • Advanced Visual Choreography
  • International Judging & Scoring Systems
  • The Art of Self Appraisal
  • Practical Judging Experiences
  • Preparing Images for Qualifications
  • Preparing Images for Awards
  • Simple Retouching Techniques
  • Working with Nik Software
  • onOne Software
  • Image Compositing
  • Introduction to Photokey 6 Professional
  • Introduction to Hit Film Pro for Video
  • Layers & Textures
  • Photographing Babies & New Borns
  • Photographing Children
  • Family Portraiture
  • Environmental Portraiture
  • Grunge Portraiture
  • Tweens & Teens
  • American Style High School Seniors
  • Proms & Events
  • Chromakey Portraiture
  • Fairies & Ragamuffins
  • Cosplay & Steampunk
  • Corporate Portraits in the Studio
  • Corporate Portraits on Location
  • Sports and Hero Portraits
  • Basics of Efficient Wedding Photography
  • Advanced Wedding Photography
  • Post Wedding Portraiture & Location Shooting
  • The Basics of Scripting
  • Shooting Simple Rushes
  • Light & Sound
  • Basics of Video Editing with iMovie
  • Creating your own Promotional Movies
  • The Basics of a Photography Business
  • Business Plans
  • Market research
  • Creating a Price List
  • Marketing & Promotion
  • Branding
The Costs
Price on Application.
Payable in a variety of ways including monthly and bi-monthly instalments.
To discuss YOUR personal programme or to secure your valuable place please email me at:-

FMPA, FRSA,Hon.FMPA, ABIPP, QEP, Hon.Master Photo-dk, Cr.Photog.PPofAmerica, MPP MPofCanada, etc

Worldwide Ambassador for HIPA & Chairman of Judges CBRE Urban Photographer of the Year

Past National President of the United Kingdom Master Photographers Association
Past Chairman of the Admissions & Qualifications Board
Past Federation of European Professional Photographers (FEP) Director of Education
International Committee Member & Recipient of the Warren Motts International Award of Professional Photographers of America
Member of ‘Team Nik International’
“Friend” of onOne Software
Wacom European Evangelist & Past Nikon UK Trainer and Evangelist