Nomi Wagner Portrait Artist

How I Turned Ordinary Thanksgiving Photos into a Wonderful Family Portrait [Case Study]

by Nomi Wagner

A family together at Thanksgiving

Have you always wanted a family portrait … but you rarely can get everyone together?

Think you don’t have the right photos?

Maybe I can help you recreate your memories, as I did with this family.

It’s easy.

All you have to do is email your photos to me. I can assist you in selecting from them.

For this portrait commission, my client emailed two family snapshots taken last Thanksgiving Day.

The photos were sharp and high resolution, which made it possible for me to see good facial detail on each person. And they were similarly posed, so I was able to combine them.

To begin the project, I rearranged each person's pose in a preliminary drawing. My 20 years of posing groups as a portrait photographer came in handy.

I wanted each family member to have their own space within the intimate grouping. No one is hidden as in the photos.

To stay true to the original photos, the family is still gathered together around the grandparents’ stairs.

I began by painting each family member’s face and then progressed around the portrait.

Throughout the project, I made changes and tweaked things as I painted. I sent jpegs of my work in progress to my client, as the portrait progressed.

My client gave me complete freedom to paint the clothing as I wished. I had painted a portrait for her before, so she trusted my judgment.

To harmonize the painting, I chose various neutral shades for the clothing. I actually referred to the family’s doggie for all the gray hues.

My goal was to keep the outfits and the values of gray interesting and believable. But I didn’t want to draw attention away from the faces. I eliminated logos and other designs.

I painted the grandmother as the focal point, with the brightest outfit. WE GRANDMAS ROCK!

I moved their cute little dog to the center of the painting.  I couldn’t resist.

The lighting in the snapshots was irregular. Family members in the front were harshly lit by the camera flash. Those in the background had soft flat lighting and were lost. I corrected the lighting as I painted and kept it uniform across the portrait.

As the painting progressed, I altered the highlights and shadows to give the portrait added punch. Increasing the contrast in the skin tones and clothing gave a three dimensionality to the painting.

Even after they were painted, I was able to enlarge the women in the second row, to give them more importance.

Ahhhh ... the benefits of painting digitally.

For the background, I wanted to retain the ambiance of the grandparents’ home on that wonderful Thanksgiving Day. Can you smell the turkey and the pumpkin pie?

And can you picture your family in a fabulous portrait painting? I can.

Just think … your precious family memories in a custom work of art to treasure for generations.

It's fun!
Hope you'll contact me.

(805) 985.3579

Dear Nomi,
Absolutely wonderful, my miracle artist! Thank you for transforming our Thanksgiving Day snapshots into a magnificent family portrait. My in-laws are thrilled with the painting, as are we. You are so talented and to think I found you on Google!
I have another commission in mind, so save me a place.

Charlotte, NC