Learn how to create a stylish piece of home art. Our fine art photography tutorial shows you how to shoot, edit and produce a high-quality print of a timeless black and white portrait.
We’re going to take you through the entire process of creating a fine art photography portrait in black and white, from the shoot to editing stage to producing a high-quality print. We’ll be editing the image in Photoshop Elements and printing our image on fine art matt paper, using an A3+ photo printer.
For our model shoot we’re going to use a simple home setup and a studio flash light. If you don’t have one of these you can use a flashgun, or even natural light and a reflector – if you’re using a reflector you may need to increase the ISO or open the aperture more than we suggest in our tutorial to get a good exposure.
If you’re using flash or studio lights you’ll need to set your shutter speed to 1/60 sec to sync with the lights, and balance the aperture setting with the strength of your flash.
Set up to shoot and print fine art photography at home
01 Model and styling
We’re going to shoot a vintage style sepia-toned monochrome portrait, so we’ve accessorised our model with vintage clothes, props and styled their hair and make up.
You could go for a similar style, or a Hollywood starlet look (in which case straight mono will look better than sepia), or stick with a straightforward portrait. We’re using a plain white wall for our backdrop.
02 Shoot tethered
We’re using Canon’s EOS Utility to shoot tethered to a computer, but other methods will be similar. Set your camera up on a tripod and connect the camera and computer using the USB cable supplied with your DSLR.
Set your camera to Manual mode, then open EOS Utility and select the Camera Settings/Remote Shooting option – you can now control your camera settings via the shooting panel.
Set the shutter speed to 1/60 sec and the ISO to 100, and balance the flash and aperture to get an even exposure. We’ve also set the Picture Style to Monochrome, so that we have a better idea of how image will look when edited.
We connected the flash to our camera using the supplied cable, set the flash to a low power and set our aperture to f/11 to ensure all of our model was sharp.
If you don’t have a studio flash light you can use a flashgun, or just natural light and a reflector. You’ll need to fire off a few test shots to determine the optimum flash and aperture settings – the beauty of shooting tethered to a computer is that you can see the results on a large screen instantly.
04 Paper and ink
For the best results, stick to your printer manufacturer’s proprietary papers and inks. Manufacturers create ICC profile settings for their consumables, and although third-party inks can be cheaper you’re likely to find that your print colours won’t be accurate.
Professional printers aren’t cheap to run, so be prepared to pay to get top quality. A standard A4 home printer will typically use four separate ink cartridges.
Adding a frame can greatly enhance your printed image, as well as keeping it protected – we found some stylish but inexpensive frames that suited our retro theme in a high street shop.
We mounted our print onto the backing card first, using an aerosol adhesive so our image remains flat in the frame – if you’re doing this make sure you use an adhesive designed for use with photos, such as Photo Mount.
Think about whether you want to include a mount around the image, and also if you want to include glass – while glass protects the print, it also reduces the intensity of the image’s colours, and creates reflections.
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