I created these portraits of Alyssa Sullivan owner of Synergy Power Yoga in Barrington RI for her social media and for new marketing material to help promote her business. With all business portraiture that I do, I had a couple of objectives. These are different for every business that I work with, but for this one I wanted the photos to not only get across the love and joy that Alyssa brings to the Yoga she teaches, but her showcase her incredible talent and beauty as well.
Below I will be sharing exactly how I created these portraits that I am super proud of! Tell me what you think in the comments!
I wanted these photos to have a very clean and pristine look about them, so I put her on a solid white background and lit the whole scene with 4 separate speed lights. My ISO was set at 320 with a shutter speed varied from 1/125 to 1/200 with an aperture of either 6.3 or 7.1
The speed lights were shot though 3 octaboxes from behind up and behind right and left. With one big one from the front right. You can see below my light placement. The three smaller lights from behind her were set to 1/16th power and the big light off to the right was set to 1/4 power.
I had the pleasure of being the very 1st presenter in front of a sold out crowd at the very 1st Ignite Southern RI put on by The Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce
This was an exciting and inspirational evening of speakers that was an honor to be a part of! Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to make it come together!
I co-hosted yet another “Light The Way” photographic workshop with my friend and fellow photographer Brad Smith this past weekend. This one took place at Manic Training Which by the way is an EXCELLENT place to workout!
We had a blast with lots of photos created and lots of learning happening I LOVE to teach what I love… I believe we had about 15 photographers in the room with 5 models and 2 hair and make up professionals. Thanks also to Trevor Holden and Matt Jacobsen for some behind the scenes photography and assistance in setting up and breaking down the piles of gear we brought with us, as well as taking some participants under their wing as needed.
Check out this really fun video we made of the event!
Thank you very much to Lynda Williams of Formal Hair Design her hair styles keep getting better and better! Check out these ladies!
And Thank you to Jennifer Hodge of Spectrum Make up Artistry Always does just the right amount of makeup so the ladies look their best!
Here are some photos that I created
A big THANK YOU to our Models who really stepped up to the plate!
This portrait was created as a part of a series of photos I am calling the Rhode Island Portrait Project. You can see some of the other photos in this project here
I created this portrait with the intention of showing Bethany’s ability to transform herself as an actress. We chose 3 vastly different women from different time periods as our characters for this portrait rather than Bethany herself.. Going as far as to give them names, back stories and motivations for what was happening for them in these moments. I shot 3 photos with my camera on a Tripod to keep the same position and then photoshopped them all together later. We shot the Gibson Girl 1st (her name is Edith) here are some set up shots. The costumes, hair and make up were pretty extensive Than you Becky! We put a lot of time into making the details just right! Thank you to The beautiful Stadium Theater for letting us use their space to work in. Visit their website here and you can visit Bethany’s website here
Here is the photo we did of Bethany as the Gibson girl pre photoshop. You can see my Octabox in the photo which was later taken out in addition to this light I also had a light up the stairs camera left shining down. You can see that light on her face and arm. And one big 7′ umbrella camera left out of the frame feathered across her front to just fill in gently. You can see the 7′ umbrella in another frame below.
The next shot was our 50’s lady named Audrey here is a set up shot.
I used a very similar lighting set up for this lady as for the 1st shot. We had Becky stand in to give Bethany someone to interact with where our Edith character would have been standing. You can just barely see a light camera left if you look close. Also of note thank you to Faye for holding the christmas stuff out of my frame 🙂 we shot this just after Christmas so the place was decorated for the Holiday and we had to take it apart and put it all back together for our shot…
last we made the Courtney character shot. For this one I just used 2 lights on her right and left you can see both here if you look close on camera right you can just see my octabox our of frame.
This portrait was created as a part of a series of photo I am calling the Rhode Island Portrait Project. You can see some of the other photo in this project here
I created this portrait with the intention of showing off John Ford’s incredible physical presence mixed with the feeling of aspiration, determination, and hope. I wanted the focus to be entirely on John for this so I went with a studio background instead of working in the “real world” the setting for my camera were:
ISO 141 Shutter 1/160th aperture F 4.5 with 3 light sources shown here
I used a bare bulb flash no modifications set camera right about 1/32nd power results shown here
Then I added another bare bulb flash about 1/8th power pointed at John from the back and very much toward my camera this added some wonderful back light and beautiful lens flare shown here
I used an Octabox up and camera left about 1/8th power. After a little photoshopping (I cleaned up the background and made the portrait a little more punchy but that is it)
here is the final photo
Some other tricks we did:
Baby oil smeared all over John to give him a nice sheen, and I sprayed him down with water to make it look like he was sweating. Open the photo to see it at a proper size
I photographed Daphne Martin for the cover of Grace Magazine. Daphne is a wonderful musician and song writer, and I met her in her home to photograph this portrait. The photo came together sort of organically after looking at the space and seeing the clothes she had picked out for the shoot. Being a big fan of thematic colors, when I saw the red hat, red dress and red walls, I immediately saw the photo in my head.
Here is our finished portrait
I created this portrait using 2 lights one up and camera left with a spot grid on the flash, creating a very harsh light that shone down mostly on her head and shoulders, and a Ring flash to fill in the shadows a little so the dark parts of the portrait weren’t SUPER dark. I positioned her just off the wall and the ring flash made a wonderful shadow all around her body which looks super cool too!
The technical info on the photo for those of you that are interested was
Nikon D700 ISO 100 F5.6 shutter 1/200th
Here are some set up shots to show you the scene I changed my lens to a wide lens which allows you to see the ring flash on the camera itself and the other photo you can see that there is an umbrella which I tried but ended up not using in the final shot.
I am proud of this portrait of Ed Tarbox taken for The Rhode Island Portrait Project. I sat down with Ed to talk about creating this portrait and was struck right off the bat 1st by his genuine energy and friendliness and second by his true LOVE of cars. It became clear that I needed to photograph him with one of his personal cars. My 1st idea was to photograph him like a racer from the 30’s you know with the goggles and a scarf but after he showed me his vintage 1963 Corvette I knew we had a winner. The concept shifted and we started talking about James Dean and Marlon Brando from the late 50’s early 60’s and Wammo I could see it in my mind! I love it when that happens!
Here is the technical info on our portrait
Taken on a Nikon D700 ISO 800 as it was getting close to dark. 5 light sources if you include the ambient light from the sky (all shown below) the shutter was 1/60th at F4
I am very proud to announce the 2nd lighting workshop I am putting on with the talented Brad Smith! Here is the info on how to sign up if you want to take your photography to the next level. We will have models that will be done up professionally by the lovely and talented Lynda Williams of Formal Hair Design and make up by the beautiful Jennifer Hodge of Spectrum Make up Artistry
I photographed Kelsey Kaiser for the Cover of Grace Magazine recently. Here is the cover image and inside spread as well
This was a fairly complicated photo to produce, with multiple conversations and meetings to discuss the photo with Kelsey and the folks that run the Gym where she practices. From the very 1st time I walked into the Gym which is located in New London CT I saw this image in my head. They have a large Flag on the wall next to the ring in the gym and I knew that was the shot. As some of you might know the only formal training I have in photography was from a class I took in highschool. I was lucky enough to have a great photography teacher that taught me some very important fundamentals for creating beautiful images. One of those lessons that Mr. Z imprinted on me was that a photo starts in your mind’s eye. If you can’t see the image before it’s created then how are you going to make it happen? That vision is very important to making beautiful photos but I am getting off topic here.
SO Here is a few photos showing the place and what it looked like with and without my lights
The main photo was taken on my Nikon D700 ISO 560 with a 50 mm lens set at F/5 and a shutter of 1/125th I wanted to get some of the ambient light of the gym to show up so that we could see the flag behind her but I wanted that to be a little dimmer than her. So I set my exposure for that background first and then added lights to create a dramatic feeling photo. You can see I had a large Octabox set up high above Kelsey to drop that sweet soft light down on her this is the main light working on her. From behind her I set 2 lights at 45 degrees pointing at the camera crossing her on either side this light you can see on her shoulders and the side of her face. They were all triggered at the same time using Pocket wizards. Also I wiped her down with baby oil to give her skin a little extra shine. Now that it is over and done I am very proud of the portrait.
Here is the finished photo and another that I really liked that didn’t make the magazine
This was a fairly involved portrait to create with a many meetings/phone conversations/and text messaging to talk about the concept and feeling that we wanted to create and capture. We created this cover shot of Theresa in what is the oldest working court room in the United States. Below are some iPhone photos I took for reference in advance of the portrait as well as set up photos in process of creating the portrait.
I wanted to have a very dark portrait but the room was filled with light so I set my camera to way underexpose the photo and added light to that dark exposure using my flashes. The photo was shot with an 85mm lens ISO 100 shutter 1/200 Aperture 5.6 The main light on her face up and camera left I wanted to be kind of harsh and I wanted the light to be only on her not the back ground, so I put a spot grid on it. I didn’t want the shadows to be too dark though so I put a ring flash on my camera at a very low setting this just nudges the shadows up a little but doesn’t get rid of them all together. And the 3rd light I added was shot through a soft box with a strip modifier on it I used this modifier because I wanted the light coming from behind her to be soft and just kiss her cheek and hair.
Here is the final portrait
For the camera geeks, and photographers that want to take their images to the next level
This is how I created the portrait of Joan Dwyer from “All That Matters”
1st the concept: I sat down with Joan 2 times (with multiple phone calls and texts in between) and we chatted for about an hour each time about this portrait, this time is a very important part of my process. We talked about who she is as a person, a business woman, a mother, a friend ect… And I floated ideas for how to portray her in this portrait. One thing to note is that she was very nervous about being photographed as most people are (including myself) This time we spent together is so very important to making folks feel comfortable with the idea of being photographed. My idea was that I wanted to photograph her as a Goddess at rest. I wanted to tell the story of what I think All That Matters represents and what roll it plays in our community. She was very reluctant to be portrayed as a Goddess, because, understandably, she didn’t want to give the impression she thought of herself as high and mighty… But this is (as are all the Rhode Island Portrait Project series photographs) my conception of who she is. Who I think of her as, not who she thinks of herself as…
2nd the execution: We built this composition over time using different things that Joan had on hand at her place I wanted it to be symmetrical and balanced visually because Yoga is all about balance. I decided to light her with candles mostly, so I went to Job Lot and the dollar store and bought about 200 candles! We used every single one! I constructed the composition slowly, and when I had everything placed where I wanted it to go then I set the exposure for the room (see 4708) then I added the one speedlight shot through a softbox (see 4710) and last I lit the candles and made sure the light was right coming off them (see 4713) when I had everything set which took about 1.5 hours then we started taking photographs and pretty quickly we got the winner (see 4733)
Here is my exposure info: ISO 800 (thank you Nikon) Shutter 1/25th and F 4 on my 50mm lens
With a little photoshoping the portrait was complete! I removed the leg of my light stand and some debris in the back ground as well some optimizations of contrast ect…
Here is a backed up shot so you can see where my light was positioned
I photographed Jeanne Sigel at The Garde Theater in New London CT for Grace Magazine. After meeting with Jeanne and seeing this spectacular venue, the photo became clear in my mind. We needed to have this be not only a photograph of Jeanne, but a portrait of The Garde itself as well. After some test shots I realized that I needed to get up higher so that the photo had even edges and wasn’t so tilted up looking. I also wanted the photo to have the color more balanced as it was heavy on the orange and red tones, so working with the lighting designer at The Theater I had him put two blue spot lights right on Jeanne. This created almost a face as if Jeanne was looking at the Theater and the Theater was looking back at her. They had a lift there that I set up my tripod on and climbed a ladder to get up next to the camera (as there wasn’t enough room on the lift for me and the tripod) after composing the photo and getting my exposure correct (ISO 560, 20mm lens, 1.6 seconds shutter, and F9 aperture) I tripped the shutter using a cable release cord because the lift was very wobbly. Here is the final photo as it appeared in the magazine as well as some set up shots.
lighting techniques and posing in a dynamic, hands-on workshop?
I get asked all the time what amount of photoshopping I do to my images and the truth is not very much. Most of the time I prefer to do my work before hand using good composition, good lighting, and just generally get the fundamentals of photography “right” in camera. But sometimes I do take extra time and really tweak and tweeze a photo in the computer to push it to another level. Also let me be clear I have NO problem AT ALL with using the computer to enhance, change or manipulate a photo. There is an erroneous idea out there that with the invention of Photoshop so came the invention of the manipulated image. This is simply NOT SO. Here two examples of people using the dark room, airbrushing, and other techniques to manipulate enhance or just change an image…
And Joseph Stalin not only wiped people out with guns, but in photos too…
But I am getting a little off topic here, I love the computer and Photoshop, and have no problem using them to execute my vision of what a photograph should look like. Maybe on another day I will spend some time writing about this and going into in with more detail, but for now I want to show you what I have done with this image of a beautiful woman who I photographed this week. This 1st shot is straight out of the camera no changes at all to the image. Pretty good ha?
This 2nd version has been adjusted in Adobe Lighroom 3
I added just a tiny bit of green and yellow to the white balance of the photo, removed the mole from her chest and brightened the shadow on her face just a little. It’s getting better…
This finished version was exported into Adobe Photoshop CS5 and changed a little more there.
I added a little more yellow to the photo softened just a tiny bit, and cleaned up the stray hairs on her head, and last softened the shadow on her chest. So this is my vision of what this photo should look like as realized by the computer. I hope this helps illustrate to those of you who are interested what can happen behind the scenes on an image. As I said at the beginning of this post, I mostly don’t do this much work on my photos. Because there is something to be said for a more “natural” look. But sometimes I feel the desire to push an image to that next level…
This beautiful portrait was taken for Yvette in her home using only one light mixed with natural light. At first glance you might think it is all natural light. But I was actually using a small light mounted on a tripod and triggered with a Pocket wizard. Here are the technical specs.
ISO 100/shutter speed 125th of a sec./ aperture 3.2
Taken on a Nikon D700 with an 85 mm 1.8 lens
What I did was set the exposure to be just a notch down from what the ambient light exposure should have been so the background wouldn’t be to bright, and then set the light shot through an umbrella just off camera left to light her up a bit with nice soft light. I set her with the natural light coming from behind her to add a small edge of light that you can see on her arm and shoulders. This defines her visually from the background more to your eye.
See the below for an illustration of the room light and where the umbrella was.
Here is a portrait I created recently. Kristy was sitting down in a chair in her living room with the dog on her lap. I pulled the chair away from the small window into the kitchen behind her to give the portait some depth. I also made sure that the other window to the outside was in the frame. I exposed for the window which by the way was ISO 320 at F-stop 5, and a shutter speed of 200th of a second. The camera was my Nikon D700 with a 50 mm 1.4 lens.
I created this portrait using two speed lights, (or flashes) One light up above the subject and camera right shot through an umbrella about 3 feet away from her, and one behind her about 12 feet and up about 7 feet in the air shot straight at her through the inside window from the other room.
Here is what the shot looked like with no lights in her living room. Not so hot with out lights ha?
My Birthday is coming up in a little more than a week. And so I thought it was a time for me to create a self-portrait to mark the changing of another year gone by. While at it, here is a run down on the lighting set up for those of your who are interested
This was shot on my D700 Nikon Camera at ISO 160
Shutter speed 160th, aperture 3.2 on my 50mm 1.4 lens
I set up the camera on a tripod in my kitchen with a 5 second delay, positioned an umbrella camera right with a speed light bouncing off the umbrella, another speedlight positioned to bounce off the ceiling very near the camera to fill in a little extra shadows, and hand-held a silver reflector low and camera left to bounce a little extra light underneath my face. I sat down on a stool and took the shot. I like it! Hope you do too! You can see the lighting set up here.
The beautiful Newport Bridge! Taken on a foggy day just after the sun dropped over the horizon. Taken on my 70-200 mm VR lens. Set on a tripod just to make sure it was sharp. Taken at shutter 60th F-stop 2.8 ISO 640 on my D700
Here is a portrait I created today of Johnnette. She is pictured here in the final shot with almost no post processing. I think I added just a tiny bit of brighness slider in lighroom but that is it.
The photo was taken on my D700 with ISO 500, shutter 1/60, and aperature of 3.2 on my 50mm 1.4 lens. So how I created it was I had her sitting in front of her piano with the lamp you can see on top of the piano on and another you can’t see hidden behind the piano also on pointed at the statue in the back, and another camera right and low on the floor lighting the background a little more. I had a 4′ silver bounce about 5 ‘ camera left that I pointed my flash at filling her in with soft flattering light from the left. I am very happy with the results!
This beautiful photo of my daughter was taken in afternoon/evening light. The sun was getting pretty low in the sky and directly behind her. I had an 85 mm lens on the camera. My aperature was set at 1.8 which makes that wonderful blur in the background shutter 1/640th of a second ISO 100
I was about 6 feet away from the subject, and just off to my right about 3 feet away from her was a gold bounce gently pushing light back on her. Very simple but effective