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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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!
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