Experimental Portraiture

Lately, I’ve been so in love with shooting portraits. Which might be a little strange, considering that with my conceptual work I tend to hide faces. I separate the two because I’ve always felt like with conceptual images it should be about the story, not what the person looks like. I almost have two different processes when I shoot. When I shoot portraits, I know what I want the makeup to look like, I know what the wardrobe would be, and I know how I want the hair. I don’t focus so much on story as much as I try to shoot beautiful portraits of women while still maintaining that dreamy, ethereal vibe. My poses aren’t pre-determined. Unlike my conceptual work – where everything is planned. The pose, the wardrobe, and a specific story/emotion. I almost always know where I want to take the image on photoshop.

This time, I thought I’d let the conceptual work influence my portraiture style. I knew I wanted to composite my subject onto a flower wall.
It’s summer here. It’s unbearably hot and shooting outdoors is impossible. And I like that cold, winter-y vibe. So I decided to create it indoors (with studio lights!!)


I shot this with a Profoto D1 and a Profoto 3×4 softbox. Omg so technical lolol. Guys, this is a big deal. I went from avoiding studio lights like they’re the enemy, to shooting portraits with one light, to SHOOTING FINE ART PIECES with studio lights. I’m kinda proud of myself. Ok, it’s really not a big deal but progress is progress so I’m happy.
(p.s. this was definitely inspired by Bella Kotak‘s work)

Another thing I’ve been loving is creating my own props/wardrobe. For this shoot, I wanted to create a top with dead flowers. I wanted something soft, light, and romantic. So I used an old piece of white tulle I had, got some lace trim, and dried flowers and glue-gunned away! I love glue gunning stuff. I don’t love burning myself, but it’s the price I’ve gotta pay right?

IMG_4237 copy.jpg

I’m sad I didn’t film this, it would’ve been fun to do a time-lapse cause it was so much fun to make it. Would you guys wanna see stuff like that?

These are the portraits we ended up with:

My lovely model, Anna, reminded me SO much of Emma (Jennifer Morrison) from Once Upon A Time. It was surreal.

I also knew I wanted to do something totally different, and go with a darker theme. So I based the second look off a dress I bought from Rosie Hardy. She sold some of her photoshoot dresses a while back and I was lucky enough to get this one!

© Rosie Hardy

Continuing on with the flower theme, we created these images:

The makeup was done by my little sister. Isn’t it crazy how 15 year olds can do incredible stuff with makeup and people like me are still struggling to perfect a winged eyeliner? Haha I’m grateful though. It’s like having a makeup artist around 24/7. As for the hair, I knew I wanted something soft and simple so I did it myself. I love curling and braiding hair – but that’s about as much as I can do.

I enjoy sharing my thought process behind these shoots, so if you guys are interested in reading more on that and on other shoots I’ve done, please leave a comment and let me know 🙂

And if you wanna book your own dreamy, fairy-tale inspired portrait session, just send me an email at info@amanialshaali.com


2014-2017 portraits Thoughts

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