Style in photography is really just the process of becoming more and more comfortable with the way you like to do things.
Photograph done for a marketing project with a Theater in Austin. We were promoting a play for Live Oak Theater. The play was set in Texas in the 1930's or 1940's. I was trying to both do my style of lighting and portraiture but also to give a nod to the tools of the day. I used a number of small, fresnel lensed, tungsten spotlights to do the lighting. The edge effects and softness of the image on the sides and in the corners was done with a device used under the enlarger lens, in the darkroom.
When I did the project for the theater I ended up hand coloring the final image and we hung a show of the had colored work of the entire staff in the theater's lobby. They are still some of my favorite images.
There is something special about using low output, continuous light. I won't try to define it but I see a difference between the longer exposures and the kind of look I get from using electronic flash.
Over the past few years I've posted hundreds and hundreds of portrait images to this blog. When we discuss my portrait work some people feel duty bound to write, critically, in the comments that I only photograph beautiful, young women. I don't think that's true and it's certainly not a reflection of the day-to-day work that I pursue. I've put up more images of women than men but I think that's only to be expected of a heterosexual male from my generation as the female form (and the female face) has always been referenced in our culture as a nexus of beauty.
But I am equally happy photographing men. This is a image we did years ago that was used in an annual report for an international financial services company. I don't know if the company still exists but the photographic style and the depth of rapport seem more or less current to me even some 18 years later.
This image was not done in studio; it was done on location at the Dallas offices of the company. My assistant and I carved out a bit of space in a giant inner lobby, set up one of my favorite weathered canvas backgrounds and, in the course of a couple hours, executed four or five portraits that we were all very pleased with.
The project was always intended to run in quadratone black and white and, in those days if an image was intended to be used in black and white that's how we shot it. We didn't hedge and shoot color hoping to make an appropriate conversion. It helps to have clear intentions at the outset because there are decisions about tonalities that are specific only to black and white. We also had much more latitude for dynamic range and exposure with medium format black and white film that we might have had shooting color transparencies.
While I have recently filled in shadow areas on my portraits a bit more than I did back when this was produced the basic lighting concepts have remained the same; as has my approach to working with people who stand in front of the camera. Male or female.