Wednesday, January 5, 2011

DIY Portraits

When my son was around 10 months old, we took him to a picture studio to have his pictures done.  In fact, my mother was kind of appalled that it took that long for us to get his portrait done.  We had a fine photo shoot and the pictures are cute, but I've never taken him back.

Portrait studio pictures, although nice, always feel too posed and formal for my taste.  My favorite pictures are done on location.  They feel like the photographer got lucky and caught that special look or smile.  Not "Hold that smile for ten minutes while I fluff the pillow you're sitting on to look more like a cloud."

Our unofficial boycott of portrait studios is a sore spot for my mother.  When I take a good picture, I usually get it enlarged and send them a copy, but I finally figured out that what she really wanted were wallet sizes so she could pass them out to third cousins I couldn't identify out of a line-up and flash to grocery clerks across the land.

So the other day, I took my son on a photography session.  Armed with my cheap Kodak Easyshare camera and a son who luckily likes modeling for pictures (with the bribe promise of chocolate afterwards), I picked a picturesque spot downtown where they had a couple of old train cars parked and started snapping away.

I liked how they turned out - not too posed or formal.  Hardly the professional quality you would get with a better camera, but I liked them a lot.  (They look even better in real life than they're showing up online because of the high resolution).  Next I took them home and loaded them on Picnik for tweaking.

Compare the original (left) to the edited (right):

I think that the left looks more like a nice snapshot, where the right looks more like the real deal.

Another less dramatic sample:

Mostly I played around with the saturation, temperature and contrast until I liked the result.

I uploaded the pictures to and sent away for matte processing (I stopped doing glossy a long time ago) - now Grammy has a handful of wallet sizes she can share to her heart's content.

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