Tag Archive: Portrait


It’s real easy to create beautiful images when the subjects are beautiful themselves.  Our latest project was with Laura.  Some of you might remember the photos we did of her older brother Paul.  As we continue to practice our three strobe lighting process and post-processing, we’re going for high-quality portraits with some dramatic flair.  We’re trying to avoid the classic school photo, but at the same time include some traditional looks as well as drama in a simple photo.

The goal with this first photo was to utilize an umbrella flash from the side with an overhead strobe.  Post processing included some depth-of-field adjustments and center lighting effect.

The above two images are identical save for filtered black an white processing and a little noise and contrast added to the lower photo for some dramatic effect.  The lighting set-up is the same as the first.

These final two images are also the same but for the filtered black and white.  The top photo included colored gels on a white backdrop to create some added flair.  The bottom of the two is sharply highlighted and contrasted for a washed look.


We’ve been on a bit of a break, but glad to be back and at the photo gig again.  Today we had the chance to photograph a young and talented artist with a bright future.  Every Sunday we get to hear Danielle perform either in the youth praise band at church or on occasion in worship service.

We started with a few basic head shots.  For this pose we used a white paper backdrop and three strobes.  One strobe facing the backdrop with an organge gel, a second overhead with a diffuser and a third on an umbrella directly in front.

This image is the same as the first with black and white processing.  We also made some adjustment to the depth of field for some added focus on the subject.

This image utilized the same lighting as the first two, but the flash set facing the backdrop was turned around and created a vignette effect across the bottom of the image.  Post-processing included a bleach wash and some minor color adjustments.  The desired result was a more edgy photo with some added drama.

This image utilized two strobes.  One on the umbrella slightly off-set and another over the subject – creating some dramatic lighting and a simple yet refined image.  No post processing was done with this image.

These final two images are the same image with some different post-processing.  The one above utilized an umbrella mounted strobe set to the subject’s right and one overhead strobe with a diffuser.  We were trying to create the ‘on stage’ look one might see with Danielle performing.  The lighting was focused on her hand along the frets for effect.  The image below was processed black-and-white with some added tone adjustments.

Trying to become a sustainable business in the competitive field of photography means understanding the elements of running a business, promoting, marketing and delivering a product people will want.  The dilemma is is how easy it is for a competitor to enter the market and the hysterically low barriers of entry digital cameras has created.  Translation, anyone with a digital camera can say they’re a photographer and compete.  Often they compete only on price making it difficult for everyone else.  I’m no exception to any of this.

With this in mind it’s important to distinguish oneself as different and worth the investment by the consumer.  The only way to do this is to innovate, create and always push the limits of one’s skill to the next level.  That’s exactly what I tried to do with our shoot with Victoria.  In this shoot we tried to explore new poses and angles to create more dynamic images.  I like to think we made a good stride forward this time around.

The above shot was take with Victoria one stair-level up.  The goal was to capture the growing vines and foliage int he background while keeping a keen focus on the subject.

The above image was take with Victoria sitting in front of a store-front.  We took the photo from an elevated level and tried to keep a shallow depth of field.  Post processing included some blue-black vignette and some light cross-processing.  One of the big obstacles on the day was the wind.  I had to keep timing the shot as the wind blew Victoria’s hair one way or the other.  A short time into the shoot I quit fussing over where her hair was because I started to notice how it created variety from shot to shot.  A natural hair-dresser of sorts, primping and making adjustments in-between shots.

Up to now, I almost always forgot about the hands.  I’ll pose people in groups and focus on their face, but the hands always add a more human element.  In this pose the simple use of the hands, having Victoria lean forward and shooting close created an image full of personality.  The image below tries to capture a similar element.

The final image, below, was an experiment.  Victoria is sitting on a yellow bench with a yellow brick backdrop.  I was not impressed with the colors after looking at the processed image.  I wanted to create some drama so I converted to filtered black and white (orange), heightened the contrast and shadows, converted the image to negative, added a mask layer and filled with gradient black and white.  When I converted the image from negative again, this was the result.  I added a subtle platinum process to it for a little extra drama and thus was the final image.  This one below is the latest addition to my portfolio.

Clark Family

Today I was fortunate to have the chance to photograph the Clark Family (Ron, Jen & Brady) while at Stone Mountain, Georgia.  The purpose of today’s session was to practice outdoor flash lighting and white balance.  Still, I struggle with natural coloring in the images, but getting much closer.

Key learnings from the day included awareness of shadows between multiple light sources, managing extreme highlights/contrast from background sunlight and adjusting the LCD display on the camera to be as true as the actual image to verify color of the image.

Secondary notes include awareness of poses and the appearance of being contrived, or at best, not sincere.  It doesn’t feel natural for people being photographed to take on poses in where the final result is supposed to be ‘natural’.  It’s an unusual paradox, to-be-sure.

Today’s shoot started with 41 photographs (not counting closed eyes, flash fails, etc.), of which 7 became ‘print worthy’, or 17%.  This is a low ratio and is the result of unexpected shadows, awkward coloring and heavy sun in the backdrop washing out too much of the image.  My goal is 50% – still a way to go yet.

The photo studio is up an running.  Here is a photo of my wife Heather, who was kind enough to pose for a few shots while I worked the kinks out the lighting.  ”Real Photos” is an effort to show people in their everyday real state, not a posed or fabricated event, but the randomness of everyday in how we present ourselves to those closest to us.

We need more models to help fill in our portfolio, if you would like a Real Photo, just contact us and we’ll schedule a time.