Make a portrait grid
ZEROING IN ON EACH small detail of your subject’s face may be your model’s worst nightmare, but the incredible effect it creates is well worth any coaxing and cajoling you may need to employ. And while the finished result may look complex, the technique itself is relatively simple.
Use a kit lens
A macro lens might seem to be the natural choice for this project, however a humble kit lens can actually serve you just as well. Most kit lenses will focus as close as 28cm, so if you’re zoomed into 55mm then you’ll be able to fill your frame with approximately 7.5cm of your subject’s face. This equates to roughly twice the width of a human eye, which is the perfect size for this project. This gives you the ability to capture small parts of the face that would otherwise get lost in a wider portrait. Don’t be tempted to reach for a dedicated portraiture lens, as the minimum focusing distance is usually considerably less than a kit lens, so you won’t be able to crop in as far on the face.
You can make your own grid in Photoshop, but we’ve made life a little simpler by collating a selection of grids for you to use. Simply visit practicalphotography.com/grids to download 16 grid templates you can experiment with. We recommend starting off with the ‘Square white frame’.
Open the file in Photoshop and begin thinking about where each shot needs to go. Open your first image, then hit Ctrl+A to Select All and Ctrl+C to copy it. Now click on the grid, select the Magic Wand Tool (W) and click inside the first window. Go to Edit>Paste Special>Paste Into. This will appear as Layer 1 in the Layers palette. To shrink the image to fit, simply hit Ctrl+T to activate Free Transform, hold down the Shift key to constrain proportions and drag one of the corner handles inwards. Then repeat the process with the rest of your shots until your grid is complete.