• May 15, 2017
How to Capture Striking Portraits for a Perfect Image worth Licensing

Playing with color in portraits can make for a captivating photo that will intrigue buyers. Working with a variety of ideas, subjects and lighting techniques can create stunning effects while enhancing your subject and telling a story.
Using bold colors and experimenting is one of the best practices you can do as a portrait photographer.

Get out there and get colorful!

#Pro Tip 1: Selective color

Pick a certain tone and use it to relate the subject of the photo to their environment.

In the image below, the photographer leverages bright blue and coordinates the blue shutters of the building with the denim shorts of the model. This juxtaposition adds an interesting visual element while allowing the viewer’s eye to travel along the photo in a vertical line.


©Dasha Muller

The photographer uses matching colors of blue kohl in subject's eye to the background. This creates a dynamic image that begs for a second look to figure out how it’s done.

#Pro Tip 2: Colorful Background

When in a studio, the use of a solid color background can help to illuminate the subject.

Here, The photographer uses this same technique while incorporating lighting, posture, and color blocking techniques to entice the viewer’s eye to travel over the photo while focusing in on the model.

©Oleg Gekman

©Alexander Alenin

The bright, rich background along with the luscious pop of red against it allows the white clothing of the model to stand out from the surrounding environment.

#Pro Tip 3: Colorful Lights

Get creative with colorful lighting with gels or unusual light sources like reflections or neon to help spotlight the model.

The Photograph uses a deep blue light, in an effort to highlight the smoke of the cigarette from the man’s face. The deep dark hue of the background in contrast with White clothing only helps to give this portrait a unique look through the use of color and style.

©Gianluca D.Muscelli

©Dainius Ščiuka

The brightly lit matchstick uses a similar technique as Blowing. Creating a contradiction in colors through unique lighting techniques can only help to enhance the portrait.

©Kareem Berjaoui

Usage of different colors of Neon Lights in contradiction.

#Pro Tip 4: Unique lights

Use unique lighting like dayglo, long exposures, black lights, or even body paints to show the subject from an unusual perspective.
In the following portrait, the photographer uses body paint to emphasize the angular features of the model, complementing this against a dynamic dark background.

©Aleksei Isachenko

©Jay Scott

Another form of unique lighting in portraits is UV Photo-sessions

In Ludmilla Mary 2fik, Richard Rhyme emphasizes a pair of fashionable shoes in an eye-popping yellow against a blue background. The narrow environment only helps to emphasize that the focus of this photo should be 100% on the model.

#Pro Tip 5: Post Processing 

Adding color in post-processing through color overlays, infrared effects, or desaturating of other colors help certain tones pop.
The photographer uses an overlay of Broken glass highlight the blue of the model’s eyeballs. The emphasis on the eye adds a serious tone to this photo leaving the viewer to wonder what the woman may be experiencing.

©Erica Almquist

In the picture below, the processing drains the color from the background, creating an emphasis on the red lips & blue-lit eyes. Like previous photographers, this contributes to the focus of the photo and assures that the viewer’s eye travels directly to the center of the image.