Photoshop Actions Blueprint: Snapshot to Portrait in a Few Clicks

Photoshop Actions Blueprint: Snapshot to Portrait in a Few Clicks

All Photoshop actions shown in this Blueprint are from the MCP Fusion Photoshop action set

Question: I often get asked “Can I make a snapshot photograph into something worthy of hanging on my wall?”

My Answer: Yes, you can!  Not all photos you hand on a wall have to be “portraits.”  But sometimes, depending on the image, you can turn a snapshot into a portrait with a little vision and help from Photoshop actions. In a few clicks, I turned this image from the before to the afters shown.

Here is the starting photo, sent in by Jamie Handy. At 1st glance, I thought, “cute snapshot… nail polish peeling, composition is not great, boys legs are cut off, etc.”  Then I looked closer at the expression on that little girl’s face and decided it was priceless.  I went to work in Photoshop.

two kids kissing

Here are the steps I took to turn the Before into the After. All actions used were from the MCP Fusion Photoshop actions set.

  1. Though often professionals will warn you to wait and crop, if the composition is totally apart from what you end up with, it can be hard to have a creative vision. In situations like this, I crop first. I chose a landscape/horizontal orientation for this image.
  2. Then I started edited using the Color Fusion Mix and Match action – as I wanted to play with a bunch of actions to find the right look. I used three folders/actions within this one action: Lemonade at 31% opacity, Jenna’s Sweet Shop at 43% opacity, and Vanilla Cream at 34% opacity. This gave me the overall look I wanted – a fun vintage, postcard feel. It was definitely an “over-edit” and not  completely natural, but I loved it.
  3. Next I used the Different Directions contrast action (opacity at 81%)
  4. Then finished with the Frosting action at 80% which adds a touch of haze.

vintage hazy photoshop actions

I also decided I wanted to see a black and white version. I started with the same crop, but worked from the original, not the color edit.

  1. I started by running B&W Fusion Mix and Match. Then I chose to activate Reminisce (the black and white film action) at 67% opacity and Peaceful at 56% opacity.
  2. I wanted a light black and white conversion, nothing with heavy contrast. But it lacked a tonal range at this point.  I ran Different Directions to add a bit of contrast and adjust the layer to 100%.
  3. Next I ran Frosting at 80% opacity to give it an overall light, airy finish.

This now reminds me of the black and whites when I was a kid. Super classic!

creating a black and white film look in photoshop

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 1


    Yes definitely a picture worth saving. Great edits. I always go back and forth between having obviously edited and natural, especially with clients shoots. But some pictures just scream for it

  2. 7

    Stacey says

    I love the b&w version. I usually convert my image to black and white after I do my color edit, but I’m glad you added that you started with the original.

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