Portrait Experience: Children's Fine Art Portraits


Wait...hang on, what exactly is a fine art portrait?


I totally get that most people aren’t familiar with the idea of fine art photography, or fine art portraits.

It’s my absolute pleasure to shed some light on the reasons WHY this is something you need to learn about!


By definition, fine art photography is using the camera as a tool to execute an artistic vision that only exists in the artist’s mind. Just as a painter will use a paintbrush to bring their vision to life, a fine art photographer simply uses a camera instead. The creative process is almost identical! Inspiration, careful planning related to the look, messages, and feelings that the artwork will convey, followed by bringing that vision to life into a finished piece of art.

children's fine art portrait boy girl brother sister hide and seek peeking
"No Peeking!" by Hillary West

What about fine art portraits though? The goal of a fine art portrait is not solely to create a visual representation or recording of a person’s likeness. What makes it art, is the deeper message behind the portrait. Detailed plans are laid to use composition, colour (or lack thereof), outfits, accessories, props, location and lighting etc. to express that message, and ultimately evoke a certain feeling for the viewer. This is what makes a fine art portrait different from a regular portrait. Have you ever seen a portrait that just captures your attention in a way that you can’t even really put into words? What if the person in that captivating image was your little one?! The value would be beyond measure!


Check out the slideshow that pulls up right away when you go to Jessica Drossin’s website, or Lisa Visser’s children's fine art portraits. Some of these portraits literally give me instant goosebumps!


Now that you have an understanding of what makes a portrait “fine art”, I’d love to share my unique take on it, and why that matters to you!

As an artist, the right side of my brain is running NONSTOP. I totally admit to being a daydreamer. I’m constantly being inspired by the people that surround me. As a children’s fine art photographer, my goal is to create memorable, meaningful artwork of your little one. My absolute favourite way to do that is through (fun!) conceptual portraits, like “No Peeking!” pictured above. To do that, we’ll need to get get to know each other through a free consultation, followed by the portrait planning meeting. During this process, I will crank up my daydreaming to maximum levels, and become inspired by everything that makes you and your children unique!


Clients who choose to work with me can expect a sincere in-home portrait planning meeting, where we will discuss the themes and values to be expressed. As mentioned above, we will create a detailed plan of how we’ll express these concepts. Outfits, props and location are the main aesthetic considerations. We will also plan how the artwork will be displayed; statement wall art, custom curated wall galleries, and heirloom quality albums are some wonderful options. With a background in custom picture framing and home artwork display consultations, I’ll provide professional guidance on this topic for you.


The story behind "No Peeking" (pictured above): This is a conceptual portrait of my niece and nephew! I really wanted to create a portrait that captured the dynamic between their personalities at this age. (My niece, Z is 8 and my nephew, O is 4.) Z seems to be taking herself more and more seriously in the last year, while O seems to be coming out of his shell and goofing around with us more! The composition and theme is intentional; these two are very much "in their own space". They are totally independent of one another, and have no issues telling you so. They're still close though, in a perfect brother and sister kind of way. They'll always be playing the same game, but not always on the same team, and not always following the same set of rules! I planned the expressions to a tee, and formulated a plan to get exactly the reactions I wanted. We had a lot of fun shooting this! Brother and sister were actually shot separately, and merged into the finished piece in post production as an image composite. (100% foreshadowing to a future blog post about family and sibling composites - I'm kind of obsessed with them!) The size of the finished piece is 40x15 inches, and will be displayed in their rec room in a simple and modern solid black frame. When I look at this image I see exactly who they are, as individuals, and as siblings.


Alternatively, sometimes the concept is simply to capture one perfect moment in time - when your child looks at you, without distraction, and you can straight up feel their soul! "Purity" pictured below is a portrait of my son, which had been stuck in my head for about a month before I decided that it wasn't entirely a bad idea to bring out my camera and flash during bath time. (Thats definitely not asking for a disaster, right?) This image came out EXACTLY as I envisioned, and I will cherish it for the rest of my life.

child fine art portrait children's fine art portrait baby toddler in bath with soapy bubbles black and white
"Purity" by Hillary West

The story behind "Purity" (pictured above): As our son grew into toddlerhood, my husband and I agreed that we really needed some fun bathroom wall art for our family to enjoy. I began my usual path of brainstorming and research into unique wall art options appropriate for a bathroom decor...rubber duck? Maybe...if it was a really unique art piece that involved a duck?! For weeks my husband and I discussed different ways a duck could be incorporated into artwork. (lol) With the seed planted, bath time became more and more of an inspiration to me. The bubbles and quiet content stuck with me. Sometimes you just get this absolutely PERFECT look, for just a moment. This exact vision built in my head quickly, and I'm so happy with the result. We plan to display it in our washroom as a 12x18 acrylic with stainless steel standoffs. Acrylic is a unique modern looking display method, which is completely moisture resistant! (More on artwork display options next week!) I also plan to photograph my husband and myself in the same way, to place on either side!


If you've ever felt like you have one million photos of your kids on your phone, but nothing that really screams "PRINT AND DISPLAY ME WITH PRIDE!", I'd love to chat. If you've ever felt like your home decor is missing meaningful, memorable artwork, give me a call. We could do so much more than simply fill a wall space. If you've ever felt overwhelmed with where to even start displaying your portraits in your home, - I'd love to chat! I want to be inspired by your spark! Please, reach out and talk to me about what your needs are. If the only thing you gain is a bit of free knowledge on how to plan your own home gallery wall, it would still be worth the phone call!


All the love,

Hillary West


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