Inspired by oth­er peo­ple’s pho­tographs and it seems that you can do no worse, but even more inter­est­ing? Try it! We will tell you where to look for pho­to ref­er­ences, as well as how to plan shoot­ing and process suc­cess­ful shots so that the result exceeds all expec­ta­tions.

What is a reference: definition and scope

A ref­er­ence is a sam­ple or pic­ture that a pho­tog­ra­ph­er or artist seeks to recre­ate. It can be a fin­ished pho­to­graph of peo­ple, a mag­a­zine shot, a draw­ing, a frame from a movie or an adver­tise­ment. A ref­er­ence is not always need­ed for blind rep­e­ti­tion, more often it helps to find unusu­al ideas, win­ning angles for shoot­ing a par­tic­u­lar per­son, and col­or com­bi­na­tions.

As a ref­er­ence — the pic­ture of K. D. Friedrich “Wan­der­er over the sea of ​​​​fog”

Let’s imag­ine that you need to do a pin-up pho­to­set. To plan the shoot, it is impor­tant to clear­ly under­stand what out­fit the mod­el will have and what pos­es she should take. The eas­i­est way is to look at adver­tise­ments of those times, to study pop­u­lar pho­tos of actress­es, singers and mod­els. Liked mate­ri­als (pho­tographs, posters, shots from adver­tis­ing) will be ref­er­ences.

Get inspired by oth­er peo­ple’s pic­tures in the cho­sen top­ic

Usu­al­ly ref­er­ences can be used by both par­ties — both mod­els and pho­tog­ra­phers. The first with their help will eas­i­ly show and explain what they expect from a pho­to shoot. Artists also use ref­er­ences when draw­ing por­traits in this way. Pho­tog­ra­phers select ref­er­ences for cre­ative shoots or as sug­ges­tions for mod­els who can­not decide on the idea of ​​a pho­to­set. This will ulti­mate­ly help:

  • choose an out­fit;
  • make appro­pri­ate make­up;
  • find props and acces­sories;
  • decide on a suit­able loca­tion in the stu­dio or on the street.

Where to look for photo references

A source of inspi­ra­tion for future shoot­ing can be found by chance — for exam­ple, while watch­ing a movie, leaf­ing through a mag­a­zine or walk­ing around the city and look­ing at adver­tis­ing posters. How­ev­er, there is anoth­er way — a tar­get­ed selec­tion of ref­er­ences using dif­fer­ent sites. For exam­ple, these:

one. Pin­ter­est. Con­ve­nient por­tal with a huge num­ber of pho­tos and draw­ings. The desired images are easy to find by key­words. If the result of the issue does not suit you, try enter­ing a query in Eng­lish. The advan­tage of the ser­vice is that you can eas­i­ly save the pic­tures you like to your boards. You can add your own con­tent if you wish.

Choose from the the­mat­ic selec­tion of your favorite pic­tures

2. Behance. This plat­form is pop­u­lar with pho­tog­ra­phers, but it is also use­ful for artists and design­ers. The advan­tage of the ser­vice is that the search is car­ried out not only by the usu­al key­words, but also by areas of cre­ativ­i­ty, col­ors, tools used, etc. Here you will quick­ly find ref­er­ences for the desired palette — for exam­ple, pho­tos in sand and beige shades.

For best results, you can try using Eng­lish.

3. deviantart. Here you can find mod­ern works made in dif­fer­ent tech­niques — free­hand draw­ings, com­put­er graph­ics, fan­ta­sy processed pho­tographs and much more. It is con­ve­nient that the work can be com­ment­ed and dis­cussed. It is also easy to add your mate­ri­als to the site at any time.

The site offers diverse con­tent — pho­tos, draw­ings

You can also search for ref­er­ences in the tra­di­tion­al way: through any search engine. Anoth­er good option is to browse online mag­a­zines about fash­ion, style and beau­ty. After all, it is there that the works of famous and tal­ent­ed pho­tog­ra­phers appear.

Examples of photo shoots based on references

If you do not plan to repeat the pho­to one to one, then first you should decide what exact­ly on the select­ed frame hooked you the most. For exam­ple, take a pop­u­lar option: a por­trait with blinds.

Blinds are often used in cre­ative shoot­ing.

The play of light and shad­ow cre­ates an inter­est­ing pat­tern, help­ing to empha­size the indi­vid­u­al­i­ty of the mod­el. As a ref­er­ence, you can use the idea itself, pose, angle, light­ing con­di­tions. How­ev­er, you can lim­it your­self to one thing, for exam­ple, the fact that in the new pho­to the shad­ow will also fall on the face.

Here the girl also opens the blinds

If you shoot on the street, then it is almost impos­si­ble to find iden­ti­cal loca­tions. How­ev­er, reflect­ing the gen­er­al idea, per­spec­tive, mood is quite real­is­tic.

Pho­tos in nature always look impres­sive and fresh.

Such a ref­er­ence needs care­ful prepa­ra­tion on the part of the mod­el and the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. You need to find a suit­able tree that will be safe to sit on, as well as pick up a beau­ti­ful long dress, do hair and make­up.

The pic­ture is brighter, but the col­or gamut is sim­i­lar

Photo processing with reference

Let’s imag­ine that the pho­to shoot­ing accord­ing to the select­ed ref­er­ences is suc­cess­ful­ly com­plet­ed. But it’s too ear­ly to rejoice, because there remains one more impor­tant point — edit­ing and retouch­ing frames. And if you took a col­or palette as a sam­ple, then this stage of work will be key.

Ref­er­ence pho­to pro­cess­ing may include the fol­low­ing aspects:

  • Work­ing with shad­ows. Every­thing here depends on the light­ing con­di­tions when shoot­ing. If you pho­tographed with hard light, then the shad­ows will be more pro­nounced. If desired, they can be empha­sized by increas­ing the con­trast.
Due to the con­trast, the pic­ture looks orig­i­nal and mys­te­ri­ous
  • Col­or cor­rec­tion. It’s eas­i­er to imme­di­ate­ly select the col­or scheme of the pho­to for the sam­ple, but this is not always pos­si­ble. If you like the col­or of the grass, the sky, the dress, or the entire palette in the ref­er­ence image, then when pro­cess­ing the frame, you can bring your ver­sion as close as pos­si­ble to the orig­i­nal. Change the sat­u­ra­tion of shades, try dif­fer­ent options. If nec­es­sary, you can change the col­or of the clothes of the mod­el.
Even hair can be “recol­ored” with retouch­ing
  • Fil­ters, inter­est­ing finds. For exam­ple, with the help of the effect, it is easy to quick­ly turn a pho­to into black and white or styl­ize it as retro. Also, fil­ters will help to tone the pic­ture if you like a cer­tain col­or scheme.
Ton­ing allows you to quick­ly and effec­tive­ly process the frame

As an exam­ple, we’ll show you how to styl­ize a pho­to as a ref­er­ence in the Pho­toMAS­TER pro­gram. Let’s say the col­or palette and the gen­er­al mood of the pho­to below act as a sam­ple.

Sand shades nev­er go out of style

To get clos­er to a sim­i­lar palette, you can try apply­ing the Ton­ing effect. There you will need to select the desired shade. If that’s not enough, it’s easy to man­u­al­ly adjust the col­ors. For exam­ple, low­er the sat­u­ra­tion of green and make red less catchy.

Col­or cor­rec­tion in Pho­toMAS­TER allows you to styl­ize a frame for a ref­er­ence

Summing up

Ref­er­ences are a good way to reach an under­stand­ing between pho­tog­ra­ph­er and mod­el. With it, it is eas­i­er to imag­ine what result the shoot­ing will bring. Also, the search for “role mod­els” con­tributes to a detailed and thought­ful prepa­ra­tion for a pho­to ses­sion, which pos­i­tive­ly affects the qual­i­ty of the fin­ished pho­tos. Do not copy oth­er peo­ple’s work, it is not inter­est­ing. But be inspired by beau­ti­ful pic­tures, films, adver­tise­ments and paint­ings!

Read also:

Curves guide: how to edit a pho­to with the most pow­er­ful tool in Pho­to­shop
Light brush in pho­tog­ra­phy: how to make, what tech­nique is need­ed
Face Retouch­ing in Pho­to­shop: Basics, Tools, and Hacks