The Viewfinder

Workshop Review- Creating Historical Portraits presented by Michael Crawley

25 Jun 2022 2:25 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

Michael Crawley hosted his workshop “Creating Historic Portraits” on Saturday, June 18, 2022. He began with a detailed slide presentation discussing creating impactful images that tell a story, evoke emotion, and introduce wonderment about a specific time period in history.

In order to create accurate historical photos many elements need to be considered such as: props, backgrounds, outfits, gun safety, lighting, and which editing software to use for finishing touches on the photo. Michael shared several examples where changing one prop could make the photo more realistic and credible, and other examples where one incorrect prop could discredit the authenticity of the photo. Using correct historical props is especially important if the images will be entered and judged for print competitions.

Safety is an important element during any reenactment, including at photo sessions. Michael discussed how he handles clients who wish to bring their own weapons as props, whether they be authentic or a replica.

Planning is paramount when creating historical photos and Michael shared several ways he plans for a session. Both the library and internet are good places to source reliable information about the time period related to your photo session. When creating historical photographs, Michael advises to use reference photos to select the correct props and backgrounds to match the time period. Michael shared several places to find these references at no cost and demonstrated his flow and ways of organizing his personal collection.

Historic portraits require paying close attention to small details. Items such as the buttons on an outfit, choice of shoes, tablecloth colors and patterns, and even the style of carving on wood chairs are all important to portraying correct and accurate historic photos.

Michael arranged for two reenactment models that belong to historical groups in Houston to attend and bring multiple outfits and props to help create historical scenes for the workshop. Attendees were able to watch and photograph the models in different outfits with various props to match.

In addition to being a photographer, Michael Crawley is an avid historical enthusiast who brings his passion for history and love of photography together to create historic portraits.

Afterward, Michael introduced how to give each photo an aged and realistic look using the Nik Collection of filters. He discussed how various software tools were used and how to create special effects by combining several at a time.

We would like to give special thanks to two models that shared their time and talent bringing multiple outfits and props to allow attendees to capture and create historic photos. Pictured in the group photo below, Michael Toppeto represented a WWII-US Navy Sailor wearing his great uncle’s uniform and Roland Salazar represented a Mexican Army Soldier 1836 Dragoon.

L-R: Robert Guillemette, Michael Toppeto, Cari McFarlane, Michael Crawley, Roland Salazar and Duane Blocker.

Review and photos by Cari McFarlane

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