Over the next few months, we will keep you abreast of the progress made on a large portrait commission taken on by Garth Herrick, a Philadelphia-based artist featured in the June 2008 issue of American Artist. In this first installment, the artist discusses meeting the client and working with reference photos.
Meeting the Client
This came through an agent, a local representative of Portrait Source [a portrait broker]. I think the client found me in the agent’s portfolio. The couple that commissioned this had so many options for good settings where they live, and they were worried that it would take them a long time to agree on what they wanted. The agency representative set up an appointment in June—I met her in the client’s driveway, we went in, and she introduced me. The meeting was very friendly, and the client was very receptive. We immediately started taking pictures.
Settling on a Pose and Taking the Reference Photos
There were so many good choices for settings! It was amazing that we so quickly narrowed the pose down to the kids sitting and standing on the rock, considering that all areas of their place were just spectacular. The kids gravitated toward that particular rock. The client’s original idea was to have them sitting in a porch swing—that was nice, but it didn’t really inspire me, especially there was a blank stucco wall behind the swing. I wanted more contrast with the kids’ white clothes. The dark evergreen foliage behind the rocks was more interesting. I took a lot of pictures that day, and met with the clients to review the photos on my computer. We decided that we wanted to take some more photos. It was sunnier the second time, so the weather conditions became more of a challenge.
Once I settled on the reference photos, I spent a few days combining them into a composite image in the software program Photoshop. All of the photos used in the composite image were taken on the second day because of the different lighting conditions on that day. I mostly worked in Photoshop the day after I took the photos, but I kept rethinking things and fine-tuning the image. Although the client approved my first version, I kept tweaking, and they approved each subsequent version.
Check back weekly to view the next step in Herrick's process.
Watch a studio interview with Herrick.
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About the Artist
Garth Herrick was a semifinalist in the Smithsonian Institution’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and was awarded a certificate of excellence by the Portrait Society of America at their 2006 International Portrait Competition. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he received the William Emlen Cresson Memorial Traveling Scholarship, the Stewardson Prize, and the Thouron Prize. Herrick’s commissions include portraits of eight notable federal judges, a governor, a mayor and numerous cultural, educational, and business leaders. His work hangs in a number of public, corporate, and private collections. View his work at www.garthherrick.com.