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15 Creative Portrait Ideas for Feeling Like Your Best Self

May 23, 2024

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We’re in such a modern time that the standard should be to use creative portraiture as part of our self-care.

As a portrait photographer based in NJ who also serves the NYC area, I’ve taken my fair share of portraits for a variety of different clients. And I’ve seen, time and time again, the confidence that can build when someone taps into their creative spirit and allows themselves the opportunity to be the star in their own life!

That’s why I’ve rounded up my ultimate list of the best collaborative creative portrait ideas, including some that you may not have even thought about or considered. Keep reading to start planning the best creative portrait session and bring yourself and all that you’re worth into beautiful focus!

Creative Portraiture Ideas

Take an adventure

If you’re an adventurer, let’s take an adventure to create your portrait. While this could mean actually going on an adventure with your photographer (i.e. a hiking trail outside of the city, a nearby beach scene, or a place outdoors of your choosing that will enhance the creation you and your photographer are manifesting together), it can also mean creating a studio scene that is adventure-filled. 

For instance, maybe you have a favorite place… it could be your childhood home because of the fond memories you have of it, the place that you or your partner proposed, or even a place you’ve always wanted to visit.

It can also be a new place that you and your photographer find just for this moment. You can bring elements of any of those into a studio to create a unique backdrop for your portrait.

Bring your imagination and dreams to life

What is something you’ve always dreamed about? It could even be something that felt “far-fetched” as a child, like becoming an astronaut. You can actually bring your imagination and dreams to life in a portrait, too. 

Again, this is something that can be done with simple props or even adding to a scene to create a fun backdrop for your images to really transport you so that dream does come to life in your portrait. It can also be a literal dream that you had while sleeping and are able to remember.

Creating something that is from a literal dreamy state can be lots of fun and will bring out the creativity in you and your photographer.

Celebrate your body

One of my favorite things about portraits is that they are a way to celebrate your body and build confidence. Your body does so much for you daily, and you can bring that to life in your images.

This can make your images a powerful statement of self-love and empowerment. We can do this through poses, outfits, or even backdrops that reflect who you really are to honor the story that your body tells. Images that celebrate your body will showcase resilience, beauty, and strength.

Be inspired by a work of art

If you’re a fellow creative, it’s highly likely that you’ve been inspired by a work of art before. Well, creative portraiture is a way to transform into something or someone else. So, draw inspiration from your favorite painting, song, book, or even movie.

You don’t have to take it all so “literally,” either. Take inspiration from the mood, color, or theme of your favorite work of art. Or, if you’d rather, you can channel your inner cosplayer!

Overcome illness

Though you may not realize it, photo sessions can be incredibly healing. We can showcase this in your portraits to tell a story of strength and resilience. You have earned the warrior title and should absolutely represent yourself as such!

This could look like incorporating symbols of your struggle and recovery (whether it’s just a specific color representing awareness or even a prop that played a role in your healing process) to give a visual representation of the experience you’ve gone through. If the vision isn’t clear right away but the idea speaks to you, lean on your photographer for creative guidance and collaboration. 

Use color pops

Did you know you can add a lot of personality to your photos and even change the entire mood of an image just by infusing certain colors? There’s a reason that there are entire courses dedicated to color psychology!

Color can easily bring about certain emotions or even share complete messages. If you use color in an intentional way, we can make your portraits really stand out with a bold and simple addition of that chosen color.

As an example, we could take a photo of you dressed primarily in neutrals against a dark but also neutral background. By draping a yellow scarf around your neck, we could easily symbolize anything from creativity to optimism. (Yes, all that from just one intentional use of color.)

Play with light and dark

If you’re a fan of stories, you’ve probably heard tales of light and dark on repeat. We can also use light and dark in your creative portraits to change the mood of the image. This can include playing with shadows and highlights to create unique contrasts or even highlight specific elements in an image.

Bring your furry friend

If you’re a big animal lover, you’re going to love this idea! Incorporate your cat or dog into your portrait session to show the bond that you both have. By having your pet in your portraits, you can completely change the story that’s being told in the shot by showing the relationships that you have in your life that make you who you are.

Have a fashion focus

Use fashion to your advantage in your creative portraits! This is one of the most well-known versions of self-expression and can easily convey your personality. Pick outfits carefully and style them with hand-picked accessories to showcase your identity as a person.

This could easily look like choosing bold and vibrant colors if you’re an extremely fun and creative person or even choosing a simple, minimalistic look for your portraits if you’re more introverted and nostalgic. This is also another time to collaborate with your photographer if the idea of fashion styling is overwhelming for you. With a partner, fashion exploring can be fun! 

Utilize mirrors and reflections

Use mirrors to add some depth and a bit of mysticism to your images! Mirrors can tell so many different stories, which is why they make such an easy, simple prop. The key is to find one that is the perfect size for what you’re trying to convey.

If mirrors are not your style, don’t worry – water is another great way to show reflections. Water can showcase transformation, and it has a great dreamlike quality, oftentimes combining both fantasy and reality.

Focus on you

At the end of the day, one of the best creative portrait ideas is to focus on you. By removing extra props or elements, your image will feel incredibly intimate. The viewer of your portrait will only be looking at you, which may feel vulnerable but is incredibly individualistic.

Integrate your passions

Whether you’re a musician, a painter, or even a doctor, you can integrate your passions into your portraits. This will tell a story of who you are beyond what people may know and can create connections with anyone viewing your portraits.

As an example, if you’re a guitarist, bring your guitar to your session. We can capture the natural essence of what you do and allow you to strum for a bit and then get creative with how to incorporate your guitar beyond the  “playing the guitar” images to add a touch of uniqueness to your portrait.

Cosplay as your favorite character

I know I briefly mentioned it before, but this needs its own entire section! Collide your personal identity with fantasy, and consider cosplaying as your favorite character for your portraits. This is a unique (and common) way to express yourself artistically. There’s a reason why there are so many Comic Cons held yearly!

Become your favorite character for a session to not only connect more with a work of art but also to show the personal connections to your identity that you hold with your favorite character.

Use neon lighting

This idea is similar to color pops, but adding neon lighting can be pretty striking. Neon lighting also allows you to play with silhouettes and shadows in a unique way. It’s really fun to bring this type of lighting into images where you can have a pretty dark background while you’re in neutral clothing and then use the light to reflect off the features of your face.

Get artistic with it

Last but certainly not least, remember to really just get artistic with it! Get creative with your photographer by integrating anything from double exposures to prisms to add a really unique look to your headshots.

As a photographer, I love it when my portrait clients want to involve artistry in their portraits. I’m committed to finding a unique, artistic idea for each and every portrait client when they’re open to it!

Final Thoughts: Creative Portrait Ideas

I hope this post has helped you to choose one of the many creative portrait ideas that are out there! No matter which you choose, I know that you’ll have some truly unique portraits that feel like you and that will make you the main character of the story you’re telling. That’s the ultimate goal, right?

If you’re still looking for a photographer to photograph and collaborate with on creative portraiture, I’d love to learn more about what you are looking for. Click here to get in touch.

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