Making This Image

I had a canvas print of this image on my studio wall before it went to the client. It drew lots of questions about how it was created. How did I make her hair go like that? How do you get a pure white background? Is that shape real? And lots more. Below I have outlined the steps in making this image.

Portrait Photography

Unique portraits like this one don’t need to be complex or very time consuming

Step 1 – Plaits. This young lady has very, very long hair. She is tall and it goes all the way down her back. Step 1 was to get her mum to plait it. I didn’t see this part, but it must have taken some time for such long hair!


Step 2 – Studio set up. This shot was taken in studio, against a white background. I have written an earlier post about how to get a pure white background. If you don’t have a studio backdrop you can achieve the same effect with a white wall or nearly white wall. I had two lights with small soft boxes on them positioned on left and right at 45 degrees to the subject. You can see the catch-lights from those in her eyes.

Step 3 – Shaping the hair. In this image, I was aiming for a fun / quirky image. To shape her hair – we improvised! We unwound a wire coat hangar and threaded it through the middle of her plait. That made it possible to create a range of different shapes from her plait. The coat hangar protruded out of her hair. In this image it protruded to the left, where her mother was holding it.

Step 4 – Removing the visible part of the coat hangar. In each of this small series of images, part of the coat hangar was visible. It stuck out from her hair, and out of frame where her mum was holding it. To remove the coat hangar wire from the image required less than 5 minutes in post production, using the stamp tool to replace the wire with pure white from the background.

It does not need a long tedious studio session and hours in post production to make interesting images. This one took about 20 minutes from beginning to end (after her hair was plaited!!) I hope this was helpful to you, and that you understand the process for making this image. Do you have a story to tell about making unique portraits?

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