Create beauty with every day

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This for me is the exciting part of photography. Creating your portrait is where your planning and taking the photographs come together. This is the opportunity to take your photograph and turn it into a work of art ready to hang on your wall or show off to the world.

Creating your portrait takes the elements and influences that you identified in UNIT ONE, the intention and script that you put together in UNIT TWO and the photographs that you took during UNIT FOUR. This is where all of your hard work so far comes together.

As with anything there are some editing basics that will help you when it comes to creating your final image.

For my editing I use Photoshop, however if you don’t have Photoshop there are other image editing programs available for free. The one that I recommend is GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)*.

Possibly the best way to explain about creating your portrait is to show you with a real life example. During this unit I will be taking you through how I went from the image on the left to get the image on the right. Remember though that you will have your own image in mind so use these as a guide and experiment along the way to get the result that you want.

*I will be providing instructions on each process using GIMP on my blog.

A PORTRAIT OF MYSELF - Mental Health Photography

Everything in life goes back to the basics.

Kron Gracie


With any form of photography there are a few basic rules when it it comes to editing your final image. These basics are there to help you present your photograph in the best way and in a way that would help the final image tell your story.


If you have been experimenting while taking your portrait you will probably have a lot to select from. Display your images on your screen as large as you can, then go through each of the images quickly. Delete out any that you don’t like straight away. 

Hopefully that has reduced the number of images that you have and you still have a few left over. Now go through them again this time picking out the ones that you do like. Aim to have four or five images that you have selected. Don’t delete the other ones, your never know they may come in useful for another project.

Now it is just a case of looking at the images and deciding which one your would like to work with.


With most of your photographs you will probably have areas around the photograph that you don’t want there. When cropping your image you want to get a ratio that gets the most impact from your portrait. When cropping also have in mind what you would like to do with your portrait, if you would like to have it framed or put on your wall it is possibly better to stick to one of the more standard crop ratios.

For my image I was originally think of a standard portrait ratio (4×6) to show the hand. However, while looking at the cropping I finally decided to go with a tighter square crop that just included the head and shoulders.

A PORTRAIT OF MYSELF - Mental Health Photography


The rule of thirds is one of the basic principles when it comes to the composition of a photograph. In the image below you can see the grid laid out so that the image is broken into nine different sections.

The lines however are more important than the nine sections. The aim of the composition is to place the areas of interest where the lines intersect or along the lines.

In my image you can see that I have placed one of the eyes on the top right intersection. Then the other eye is also along the top line. As another point of interest the light part of the face, which will be highlighted, follows down from the intersection along the righthand line on the grid.

A PORTRAIT OF MYSELF - Mental Health Photography

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

Pablo Picasso


Creativity is a personal aspect. This is where you can really let your artistic side loose on your portrait. Whatever program you are using though I would recommend that you take a copy of your image and work with layers so that you are not making adjustments directly on the original image. This way if you make a change and you decide later that you don’t like it you can simply delete that layer, rather than having to go back and start again.

Getting creative is a great work to absorb yourself in your image. Take time to experiment and have fun.

There is no set rule for which order you do things in. The items listed below are purely the order that I worked in for this particular image.


This is where you can create the overall colour theme for your image. The best way to describe this is probably from the films that we see on TV. It is where you can set the mood of the entire photograph simply by adding a colour gradient to your image. Blues will create a colder image, while oranges reds or browns will warm the image up. You can also subtract colours all together.

There are so many different ways to do this so you may want to find the way that suits you.

For my image I wanted the colours muted so I used a gradient map layer over the image with dark blues for the shadows and a slight yellow for the highlights.

A PORTRAIT OF MYSELF - Mental Health Photography


Adding blur to your image is a great way to add a bit of motion or to allow a set area to stand out.

For my image I wanted the face to be the focus so I added a bit of motion blur to the image. After this I added a mask layer to bring the face back into focus.

A PORTRAIT OF MYSELF - Mental Health Photography


There may be times when you need to change the background of an image. There are many ways to do this, so again it is a case of finding a way that suits you.

For my image I knew that I wanted the background to be darker so I added a texture layer to the image. As I only wanted the background darker I then added a mask layer and brought face and body back to the original.

In my case I needed to repeat this 3 times to get the colour that I wanted for the back ground. On the last layer I also allowed the texture layer to come over the body so that is blended better with the background and I wasn’t left with a harsh line.

A PORTRAIT OF MYSELF - Mental Health Photography


Dodge and burn are names taken from the old days of film photography. The intention here is to make areas of the photograph darker (burn) or lighter (dodge).

For the I created new layers and painted on the areas that I wanted either lighter or darker using another mask.

A PORTRAIT OF MYSELF - Mental Health Photography


Adding a texture to your image can really transform the outcome, especially if you are looking for that ‘gritty’ look.

I wanted my portrait to have a lot of texture so I ended up adding three different layers to get the final look that I wanted.

A PORTRAIT OF MYSELF - Mental Health Photography

MY PHOTOGRAPHY on the blog