For some people, the appearance of a digital camera – especially a DSLR – brings on a sudden facial affliction. No sooner have you got them in frame then their face contorts through a variety of bizarre expressions. Whether intentional or not, this can be a real issue when shooting portrait photography – particularly in group shots, but individually it is possible to use it to your advantage (see our Free family portrait photography cheat sheet).
Rather than battling with your subject, why not play to their strengths, capturing a series of fun expressions that give clues to their personality, then display them all in one frame. We shot our nine RAW images in a simple home photo studio, using a ring flash to get the distinctive lighting style (see our 10 tips for setting up your home photo studio).
Once you’ve captured your images, we’ll show you a way to edit multiple shots in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), so that you can give each of them the same treatment, then create a montage of images to print and frame.
How to make a collage from your portrait photography
Step 1: Prepare your RAW files
Open your portraits in Adobe Camera Raw. Click Select All, then use the White Balance tool to click on the white area. Click on the Highlight Clipping Warning icon. Set Exposure to 1.20, using the Recovery slider if needed to reduce the red patches. Set Contrast, Clarity and Vibrance to 65, 60 and 15.
Step 2: Match the exposures
The exposure of the shots is still inconsistent. Working on each image individually, click on the box next to the Exposure slider, highlight the numbers, then hover your cursor over a white area. Use the up and down arrow keys to adjust the exposure until R, G and B read 2, 3, 7.
Step 3: Create the layout
Click on Select All, then Open Images. In Elements, select the Crop tool, then set Width to 9cm, Height to 13cm and Resolution to 240ppi. Crop each image. Create a new document and enter a Width of 280mm and Height of 400mm. Switch on the grid, setting it to 0.5cm divisions.
Step 4: Merge the layers
Now Copy and Paste each of your open images into the new document and use the Move tool to position them. Make sure that all of the images are correctly aligned, then switch off the grids. You can now boost the midtones using Enhance>AdjustColour>AdjustColourCurves.
Step 5: Adjust the Curves
Below the image preview you will see four sliders that enable you to adjust the way the curve affects the image. Increase the Midtone Contrast slider and then boost the Midtone Brightness slider, as shown above. Click OK, then go to Layer>FlattenImage.
Step 6: Finishing touches
The final image will be printed at A3, so go to Image>CanvasSize and increase Width to 297cm and Height to 420cm, making sure the background colour is set to white. Go to Enhance>AdjustSharpness, increase Amount to 65% and Radius to 1.5. You’re ready to print.