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Artistic Portrait Photography

  • instructor

- Jingna Zhang

  • apprentice

- Maciej Kuciara

Join award­-winning photographer Zhang Jingna on creating compelling fine art portrait photography. Together with Jingna's professional Apprentices, you will learn the process of crafting a unique, creative photoshoot. Beginning with the basics of photography, Jingna will walk you through all the steps in production, lighting, retouching and post-­production.

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Student Gallery

Artistic Portrait Photography

Model: Violet. Shoot around East Hollywood outdoor during daytime (11am-12 noon) trying to find contrasting colors so Violet would stand out. Also used contrasting subject matter (not sure if that counts as a design element). Shot digital and film (35mm and Lomo Panoramic)

Lesson 8 homework:

1. This week I created my portfolio ( Though I will continue to make minor changes to it, overall I'm very pleased how it turned out. Soon I will start a 'blog' section so I can upload multiple images from a shoot and write a few words.

2. That being said I'll blog about this course and the photoshoot once I get to it. I'm still editing the images and seeing what I like best. I tackled many projects at the end this year and I need a creative break for at least a week before I can start blogging. It was my goal to have my portfolio up and running before the new year so that's why I'm submitting this lesson homework right now.

3. I retouched one image, the same as last homework, I just keep coming back to it because it's becoming my favorite. I like having a few versions perhaps one more edgy and creative. This one here is the more creative version. I used the warp tool to make parts of the image appear doubled.

Thank you Jingna for creating this course and putting in your time and effort so others like myself can benefit from it. I learned a lot and it pushed me in the right direction. I also have no doubt I'll come back to some parts of this course to refresh. You'll continue to be an inspiration to me, I look forward to seeing all your new work in 2018. Thank you again!

Lesson 7 homework:

This lesson took so long to learn but I'm glad I took my time trying to learn all the techniques that you taught.

I actually did a composite image (not submitting it because I didn't like the final result) but I loved the process of merging the best components of two separate images.

For these images below I really tried to focus on the skin. In total I spent about 12 hours learning the clone and healing tool (in particular the clone tool), and about 2 hours learning the liquify and transform tools. I'm submitting these images though they are not completely perfect--I'll still be learning how to fix the finer things like eyebrows and hair on my own time.

Obviously I'm a beginner and so to retouch something simple in photoshop could take me a while so what I would of fixed during the photoshoot process is my attention to detail. Things like fixing a piece of her hair or tilting her chin ever so slightly could save hours of time later.

Lesson 6 homework:

These are my top 10 images, and underneath are my top 2. I did a few different composite tests just to see the options and to get a better feel for it but ended up not liking them, nevertheless, I got some practice out of it.

Top two favorites:

The first image is my favorite (with the flowers). I love the shadow play and the light so much and I think there isn't too much distracting elements going on.

The second image is my second favorite. I like the fact that she is facing toward the light so the emphasis is on her attire, it stands out to me. If i were to go back and to change one slight thing I'd ask for the model to sit more poised, but still I think it's a beautiful image.

Amongst a few changes, I darkened these slightly from my previous homework upload. The reason is because I'm trying to get her skin to the most realistic color that it actually is. I think it looks more natural than what I previously wanted to do with it (create a more vintage feel and tone up the colors). I can't wait for the next lesson to retouch these!

I learned a great deal and am happy with the results!

- Zach Ellis

Lesson 5 homework:

I completed the shoot! It went well. Since the model is a family friend, she stayed the night so we can all get up early the day of the shoot. My husband was my assistant. I made a list and prepped everything the night before so I'm not stressed the day of. Since I rented a studio in downtown (LA) I wanted to do the shoot first thing in the morning so things like traffic or it being to busy or noisy won't get in the way of what I'm trying to accomplish.

I woke up at 4:30 am and made breakfast and coffee so we're all energized. But still I bought snacks for the studio.

From 6:00 am - 7:30 am I did hair and makeup for the model. Since the makeup was more or less neutral and natural it wasn't too hard to accomplish. I had references that I saved (from the homework in the previous weeks) so I was mimicking that.

8:00 AM we left the house. Everything was running smoothly and on schedule. I knew if I was behind schedule or running late I would make mistakes or forget things at the shoot so being on time was a priority. We actually got on location earlier than I thought so I had some time to step outside and just breathe.

I rented the studio from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM. From 9:00 AM - 9:30 AM we set up, from 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM we did the actual shoot with a 30 minute break in between and at 11:30 AM we did the breakdown and cleaned everything up.

Over-all I am pleased with my images. These images are tweaked ever so slightly but I already started on post-production and the end result that I'm going after is for them to look vintage and warm toned.

I learned so much already throughout this course and I know that if it weren't for the previous weeks of this course this photoshoot would have been a lot harder to execute. Planning is key and that I learned well. My apologies for perhaps not being 'brief' in this reflection.

Lesson 4 homework:

Lessons in this Course

Recommended Hardware: 
Camera with Hotshoe and Manual mode, One or more 500 watt lights (strobe or continuous)
Software Used: 
Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom
Optional Hardware: 
Wacom tablet, lighting modifiers, painted backdrop, memory card and reader, monitor and calibrator