Monday Morning Portrait. It's 50% lighting. It's 50 % engagement. And it's 100% collaboration.


I loved photographing Heidi. She came to my studio at the suggestion of my assistant, Amy. We were doing a book project and we needed a beautiful person to photograph so we could illustrate what I was writing about lighting. I lit her in what I've come to know as "my style" of lighting. It's a really big umbrella (could be a softbox if you prefer) used over to one side and fairly close. The other side gets a black blocking card to control the depth of the shadows. The little glimmer of backlit hits the top of Heidi's check and adds and inference of shaping to that side of her face. The grid spot on the background creates a vignette effect on the background.

We were using an Leaf/Rollei Aptus 7 back in the studio at the time but I found that I preferred a regular Nikon DSLR and a medium telephoto zoom lens instead. The files on the bigger camera might have been easier to work with but the smaller camera was 95% there on the quality and much more fluid with which to work. A variation of the image above appeared in the second book; the one about studio lighting.

I came across this image because I'm preparing to give three day, concentrated workshop on portrait lighting and portrait creation for a private company. I've looked through over 900 digital portraits I've made in the last decade with nearly 40 different digital cameras. My take away? All the files look nearly the same as artifacts because lighting and aesthetic attention trump the somewhat benign differences in cameras. Shop all you want but whatever you shoot with you shoot with your own brain first. Hard to overcome that hurdle, if you consider it to be a hurdle. On the other hand it certainly speaks to a triumph of purpose. Go with your flow and you'll drag whatever camera along with you....

Happy monday. Hope the week treats us all well.


Steve said...


I've looked at all the portraits you've posted over the last two years. This is one of your best.

I appreciate your work on the blog and your commentary.

Steve B.

Anonymous said...

This is a stunning, amazing portrait. Wow.