The portrait is a collaboration.

A.Z.  ©kirk tuck

I met the woman in this image a few years ago. We were shooting some big graphics for a trade show and she was one of the talents the ad agency selected as a principal for the ad campaign. I was smitten by her quiet and unusual beauty when she walked through the door. After the project was completed and the 9 foot by 12 foot panels were installed I sent her an e-mail and asked if she was willing to come into the studio and have a portrait made, as a fun project. 

I set up my usual lighting. A big, soft light coming from the left and used in fairly close. At first there were the obligatory smiles and poses but as we got into the session I found that the quieter, more serious expressions were the ones that made me happy. People remark that my portraits can be too serious but the bigger the smile the smaller and squint-ier the eyes. And A.Z.'s eyes were one of the features that attracted me in the first place. Why hide them behind a smile?

I used my camera of choice at that time. It was a Nikon D2x and the exif info tells me that I was using the 85mm 1.8 Nikon lens. I know this will sound monotonous but I shot all the images in the session with ISO 100 because it's the optimum ISO for that camera. 

We shot a lot of stuff in a short amount of time that evening and I sent along a few of the best images but lately I've started to go back to my favorite images and re-work them. Funny how four or five years passing makes such a difference in my perspective about how faces and lighting and post production should look. 

Here's another version:

 We are all attracted to different ideals of beauty. You work better when you work with the kind of human you find most amazing. Knowing your creative muses may be the most important aspect of making great portraits. Not commercial, sellable portraits, just great portraits.

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Claire said...

Both wonderful portraits, of a truly stunningly beautiful young woman. The quadra in me is wanting to see her 40 yr old version, I bet she'll be just as gorgeous (albeit differently).

Dave said...

Funny. I love the lighting and natural expression -- that's a given. One of the things I that jumped out at me? Not being cluttered with gaudy make up. The natural aspect of expression jibes with her natural beauty and I think is enhanced by the lighting approach and not being marred with some awful lipstick or spray painted eye color. Excellent, excellent stuff Kirk. As always you make me think about finding a zen balance in my own shooting. Thanks!

atmtx said...


christian davis said...

Both of these, plus the BW version in your next blog post, are lovely. But the second color shot here is really capturing my attention. I think it's because of how warm her skin tone looks against that gray background. Plus her hair, eyes, general beauty, etc. But it pops! to me I think due to the colors.

G Gudmundsson said...

Mona Lisa