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How to Create Stunning Backgrounds for Your Portrait Photography Using Midjourney AI

Midjourney AI is a fantastic platform for creating original images, just about anything you can imagine, from scratch. With all this creative power at your fingertips, it’s easy to overlook a very useful feature for photographers: the ability to create custom backgrounds for portraits.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create custom backgrounds and even 3D spaces to take your portrait photography to the next level.

First steps with Midjourney

You can access Midjourney from the official Discord site. From there, you’ll be prompted to join Discord, which is a free online voice and chat platform that Midjourney runs on.

You can either join for free or choose from their individual membership plans starting at $10 per month.

The Best Midjourney Subscription Plan for Photographers

If you’re a serious creative who plans to use Midjourney to create a lot of content, we highly recommend the Standard Membership Plan for $30 per month. This plan will allow you to use Relaxed modewhich will entitle you to unlimited content creation.

The Standard Membership plan is essential if you want to spend some quality time experimenting and creating the perfect background for your portrait photography.

Although the Basic Membership at $10 per month allows 200 jobs per month, you will find that you will use them quickly in just a few sessions. If you’re on a budget, try this plan first and upgrade later if you need to. It still beats the free trial, which only allows 25 jobs.

If you prefer to pay for credits instead of a subscription, you can use another AI image generator like Dall-E 2 to create backgrounds for your portraits.

Why Portrait Photographers Should Use Digital Backgrounds

If you shoot a lot of portraits, you may have considered using digital backgrounds in the form of textures and scenic locations for your subjects. Midjourney is the perfect tool to create these backgrounds. Here are some benefits of using Midjourney for this purpose:

  • It’s cheaper than buying real backgrounds from a photography supplier.
  • You don’t have to waste time meeting your subject at a specific location for the shoot.
  • You can create just about anything you can dream up. You usually cannot buy this option in a store or visit such places on a small budget.
  • Create as many unique backgrounds as you want. There are literally no limits.

If you take these considerations into account, the standard membership plan at $30 per month is definitely the more financially sound option.

Things to know before you start

The only requirement for using Midjourney to create backgrounds for your portraits is that you need to know how to create composites in an advanced photo editor like Photoshop.

Without the ability to create complex selections, resize objects, color grade, and a host of other skills that may be needed to mix portrait and background, you won’t be able to use Midjourney for the purposes of our tutorial.

You can use Luminar Neo to create your composite photos.

There is a downside to using Midjourney; you will never create exactly what you have in mind most of the time. Indeed, the technology for using text prompts to create images from scratch is still in its infancy. And although Midjourney is making rapid progress in improving its platform with regular updates, you may find it difficult to build something close to your original idea.

Even so, many of Midjourney’s creations can be quite acceptable, even amazing, and can take you in directions you didn’t expect. Just play and have fun with it, and you’ll soon discover the limitations and strengths of Midjourney.

What mid-term settings to use

The correct settings can mean the difference between getting the images you want quickly and wasting a lot of time with nothing to show.

For this tutorial, we are using the settings below. These will guarantee more samples to choose from (four versus two) and allow for a bit of variation between releases without going overboard.

If you want to track, adjust the following:

To access the settings in Midjourney, type /settings and press Walk in. Then just click on the options to change them.

Note that if you are on the free trial or standard subscription, you will not be able to select Relax mode. fast mode will be the only option without upgrading your membership.

Which Midday Prompts to Use for Portrait Backgrounds

Now, let’s create awesome backgrounds for your portraits!

A good strategy is to start with short and simple text prompts and then expand them to add complexity. Let’s do exactly that for our first example. We’ll use “dark background” as the first prompt to see what Midjourney has to offer.

If you’ve never used this AI before, check out our in-depth guide on using Midjourney to create art. To create images, just type /to imagine then enter your prompt.

Midjourney did a good job creating a “dark background”. But let’s be more specific and say we want a “flat black texture background”. Additionally, we will click Revive to get two more sets of options.

We are getting closer. We had Midjourney make the background textured and flat, which removed the 3D results we saw on the first try. But for best results, let’s be even more specific…

We managed to create a flat texture. Any option could work as a background for a portrait if we crop it and then create a composite. But we failed to create a black option. This is where experimenting with word order and Stylize, Qualityand lester settings might be useful.

This video from Design Computation Human explains all these options in more detail:

Here are some results that we are quite happy with. We changed “background” to “backdrop” and expanded the description. Any of these examples could easily be placed behind your subject as a wonderful background.

Here is an improved version of the fourth option:

Let’s clean this up in Photoshop to see how it would look.

From there, you can scale up further, change the ratio, change the color, and even mix other textures to create custom backgrounds that no one else has.

You can use Luminar Neo to remove the backgrounds from your original portraits to make your composition with Midjourney easier.

How to Create 3D Spaces for Portrait Backgrounds with Midjourney

You can create amazing 3D spaces with Midjourney which could complement your portrait photography. Prepare to spend a bit more time if you’re looking to create super realistic composites, but it can be done.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Separate your text prompts with commas. For example, “indoor artist’s studio, 3D space”.
  • Use “3D” or “3D Space” in your prompts to ensure that Midjourney creates a three-dimensional space.
  • Use the aspect ratio code to create more realistic spaces. For example, –ar 16:9 or –ar 9:16.
  • Interiors are generally much more realistic than outdoor spaces.
  • Trying to recreate real places in 3D is not yet really possible in great detail.
  • Be prepared to experiment a lot to achieve your vision.

Below is an example using the “photography studio background, 3D, modern, –ar 16:9” prompt. Note that the –v3 is added automatically by Midjourney since we changed our settings accordingly.

We used the “large empty warehouse, filtering sunlight, –ar 16:9” prompt for these results:

You are not stuck with buildings. You can also create natural 3D spaces for your portraits. We used the “large ice cave complex, 3D space, sunlight filtering, –ar 16:9” prompt for this enhanced version:

As mentioned, creating realistic and recognizable outdoor scenes is troublesome at this point. Instead, consider using such scenes to create fantastic backgrounds for your portrait photography.

You can change your settings for any of the test modes, but even those are a little underwhelming compared to their real world counterparts.

The above example of an outdoor parking lot looks more like an illustration than a photo. Just about anything on the outside will be nearly impossible to make believable. But you can use it to your advantage for other types of creative projects.

No more boring backgrounds for your photos: you can take a picture of your friends and family just about anywhere and compose them with amazing scenes created in Midjourney. Let your imagination guide you!