Fantasy Photography: How to Create Magical Portraits

Fantasy Photography

Fantasy Photography: How to Create Magical Portraits

Standard photography sessions can be a lot of fun, but sometimes its helpful to break out of your norm to inspire yourself creatively - so why not take it to the next level and embrace the magic that can happen with a fantasy photography session!

Fantasy Portraits are are a fun and relatively unique photography niche.  Personally, I really enjoy setting up, shooting and editing a fantasy photo session and so do my clients!  But I have learned that careful planning is definitely required to maximize success!

Photoshop Lens Flares

Planning a Fantasy Photoshoot

One of my favorite types of fantasy photoshoots revolves around a child fairy theme - what’s more magical than a little fairy in the forest?

Fantasy Portraits

When I photograph children, I take every opportunity to make them feel special!  There’s just something so wonderful about a child’s face when they know that their time being photographed is completely dedicated to them and that we will be making beautiful and magical images together.

  • But how do you create an environment that makes the child comfortable and free to explore?
  • How do you confirm that everything comes together the way you’ve envisioned it?
  • How do you convince the child to connect with you and the environment and embrace the magic surrounding them?

Follow these three tips and you can ensure success!

1. Create Your Vision

The most important part of creating magical images is having a vision of what your finished photos will look like.  You then can use your location, costumes, posing, and processing to bring that vision to life.

In order to create your vision, you have to imagine the correct location, coordinate the proper outfits and accessories and also direct proper posing to ensure that any planned Photoshop effects will work and look good in post processing.

Fantasy Photoshoot

I like to create a quick sketch of my ideas, even its only a stick person in the woods.  When imagining your location, think about places you are familiar with that have a whimsical or magical feel.  A pond or forest location are great places to start.  Or, maybe you noticed an interesting log on your walk in the woods the other day.  Flower gardens can also be a perfect location for your little fairies to take flight.

When envisioning your final image, think about the poses that will allow you to add Photoshop Effects you want to use (like fairy wings and fairy lights in my case) or compositing you want to do for your image.  Would it be cute if she were standing to the side, or would it be better if she were facing directly at the camera?  What if she were squatting down picking a flower or examining some moss on a rock?

Fairy wings and fairy lights can be added to almost any image, but doing a little pre-planning will ensure that these magical effects enhance your final image in the best way possible!

Quick edting tip: I really can't say enough about the Pretty Actions Fairyland Actions and Overlays.  This collection really makes it super easy to add beautiful and unique magical touches like wings, fairly lights, sunrays, fireflies and more that will really enhance your fantasy portraits! 

Just take a look at my before and after images included in this post!  I used the Fairyland collection on all of these!

Fairy Wing Overlays

Here are some additional things to take into account before your photoshoot:

  • Does the child have any sensory issues?  Are they sensitive to any specific fabrics?
  • Will the child be comfortable wearing a flower crown?  Or headband?  Would a clip-in flower be better?
  • Will the child be wearing their own dress or will you be providing one for them?

2. Fantasy Photoshoot Pre-Planning

After you create the vision for your session, it’s time to take action and complete the pre-planning.  You will need to finalize your location and confirm the wardrobe.

Once you’ve decided on your location, it’s always a good idea to go there in advance (preferably at the same time of day that the session is scheduled for).  This will give you an idea of what the lighting will be like at that time of day.  It will also give you ideas about where you may want to place your subject.  Sometimes I bring an assistant with me to take test images, however a doll can even work as a test subject for this purpose.

Next, you will want to confirm the wardrobe.  You will need to confirm whether or not the client is bringing their own wardrobe for your little fairy or if you need to set aside the proper fairy dress(es) from your prop stash.

If you decide to order or rent a dress for your fantasy portrait session, you will need to make sure to allow enough time PRIOR to the session so the items will arrive in time for your subject to try on and make sure it fits properly.

Fantasy Photo Art

3. Bringing Your Fantasy Photoshoot Together

After you’ve spent time creating the vision and taken the time to make sure everything will be perfect, it’s now time to bring it all together and execute that vision.

Once I begin my photo sessions, I generally find that using prompting statements really help my subjects feel more comfortable.  Here are some examples of prompting statements I use:

  • Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you!  Imagine you are a fairy in the forest!
  • Can you hear the magic?  Open your eyes and look for all the magic around you!
  • Look at all the details on your beautiful dress!
  • Now, let’s pretend their is a butterfly on your finger.

After the child is comfortable AND you can tell they are feeling the magic of the forest, lily pond or wherever your location may be, you can begin shooting.

Keep in mind that children can be unpredictable and can change their expressions quickly so don’t forget to conduct some test shots in advance of the session to obtain the correct exposure.  I always like to have my camera set to a shutter speed of at least 500 to eliminate any chance of movement when I take the final image.

Fantasy Portrait Photography

Final Tips for a Successful Fantasy Photography Session

Remember with fantasy photography sessions, you are not just there to capture images of the child.  You are also there to help the child imagine and see the magic of your location.

Whether its a forest or a pond, help bring it to life for them!  Make them FEEL THE EXCITEMENT AND WONDER all around them.  Only then, will you truly capture those magical expressions that the child and their family will cherish for a lifetime!

Do you have any questions or comments about Fantasy Photography Sessions?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

Fairy Wing Overlays