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Creating Fantasy Portraits

Updated on November 4, 2014
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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)You are free: to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work to Remix — to adapt the work to make commercial use of the work | Source

Creating fantasy photographic portraits takes a vivid imagination, lots of planing, an artistic perspective and a good makeup artist. You should also inquire about local costumes shops in your area as well.

There are several projects that can be undertaken which involve photography. Like cosplay and fancy portraits, both involving the use of costumes, fantasy portrait photography requires them too. Unlike most costumes the ones used for fantasy photography are usually hand made for a specific shoot or rented from theatrical stock houses.

There are several costume shops that specialize in these types of costumes and a quick internet search will provide you with plenty of these sites. But you don't really need to spend vast amount of money in having a fantasy costume created. If you do a quick search of the web and fantasy sci-fi genres you will notice that a lot of the costumes involve very toned models with very little clothing, perhaps some plastic ears, hair extensions and good makeup work.

A good idea which always seems to well received are shots in which a figure is seen coming out of the water or that shows a hand or hands coming out of the water and reaching towards the sky, usually grasping a prop such as a sword, or a rose. This shot is easy to compose once everything is ready and very few props are needed for this particular scene.

They resemble the gear and fashion that was in use during the early years of civilization and from the minds of sci-fi writers. By using a little creativity you can almost turn any store bought costume into fantasy ones. You will probably require using some props such as wings, swords, lances, fantasy related headgear, fake body pieces, leather straps, sandals or high boots and your subject.

If you prefer to buy or make your own props and costumes, you will find that with a little advertising you can often rent them out to others after you're done using them which in turn can turn into a lucrative enterprise.

These shots are mostly done in the studio with the appropriate backgrounds and other effects added later on with the aid of one of the many photo editing software programs. Using a good digital editing program is essential as well as the knowledge to use it.

When doing this type of photography attention has to be placed on the lighting. The best light is often muted, and just enough to reveal some parts of the shot and leave the rest in semi darkness. Many of such images can also be done at the beach, parks, and grassy areas. Be ready to handle the added attention of onlookers if using an outdoors venue, but if you think about it, they can end up being your next clients.

The backgrounds are mostly black or dark. Rocks, shrubbery and plants in general are also used. Think of the background as a fill in, with the subject as the main point of reference, yet backgrounds should not be entirely overlooked.

Dress your models in the chosen gear and try to use makeup that highlights features such as the musculature and to apply it creatively. Many art institutes, art departments at local colleges and universities and makeup schools will gladly work with you.

Their students need to build portfolios of their work for graduation requirements and to use when they are ready to seek employment, and you will be giving them a golden opportunity to practice their wares as well as building their portfolio and of creating a network of possible future referrals.

Keep in mind that this will require you to give them copies of the images, but you can incorporated your copyright in them as well. This therefore serves a double purpose; the students are showing your work as well as theirs.

Try to use real gear, plastic swords don't really work nor do plastic shields. Leather has to be real leather, the stuff used for Halloween is too fragile and fake looking. Seek the assistance of antique shops and theatrical production companies. They, more likely than not, will either lend you the props or will rent them out for a minimal fee.

You can offer to give them copies of the images for their advertising efforts and you may end up obtaining the participation of some of the actors in your shots as well. These actors can always use the extra attention and your photos can be used in self promoting their acting prowess's.

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CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

If you are comfortable with computers, then look into using some of the tools to add backgrounds and interloping two images into one. A simple technique is to shoot a background scene by itself, the model and then incorporate them both digitally.

There are many sites that will sell you digital backgrounds which can easily be incorporated into your fantasy images, and this is the main procedure for this style.

Don't get so creative that it overwhelms you, start with simpler schemes and build yourself up as you gain confidence and experience. Simply applying make up around the eyes and face, and maybe some colored contact lenses can yield great results, simple wings and flowers in the hair can do the same.

This type of work can be shown in art galleries, used for the production of posters, in sci-fi publications and in general photography publications.

There are some photographers who specialized in doing fantasy portraits for weddings and special events, with pregnancy photography being in high demand. Here the gear is more subdued with the use of filters to soften shots, smoke and fog machines and digitally created dreamlike backgrounds.

(CC BY-SA 3.0
(CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • footballzone profile image

      footballzone 6 years ago from NIGERIA

      many format ?

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      Very cool effects. I didn't realize there were so many formats out there.