Archive for December, 2009


High School Senior Photos – Part Two

I really enjoy shooting high school kids – especially when the high schooler is beautiful, enthusiastic about the shoot, fun to be with and photogenic. I may be biased, but my niece, nicknamed Lela, is all of these things.

Lela has a natural, open and engaging smile. In fact,  I had to work at getting her to do a semi serious pose, such as the one above.

The image to the left is more typical of how she looks most of the time – a happy, outgoing young woman who enjoys life.

When I suggested she try some poses jumping up in the air, Lela got right into it and we came up with some great shots with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, like the one below.

When shooting high school seniors, I find it helpful to talk about outfits before the shoot. (Otherwise – who knows what they will show up with?) With Lela, we Skyped before the shoot.  She would bring potential outfits out of her closet which we’d look at and discuss together. This helped in pulling together a variety of looks that would photograph well and show her to best advantage.

I always try for a fun, spontaneous and informal  look to the images for high school seniors. And faithful readers will recall I love bold colors – the first headshot above brought in the primary RGB (red, blue, green) complimentary colors, which usually look like dynamite together.

Whoever the senior is, I try to create images to reflect his or her personality. I’m trying for unique and refreshing pictures that will be enjoyed for years to come. Most seniors will have their pictures done by a “photo mill” that has a contract with their school. The images often look  humdrum and clichéd.  But the kids are often pressured into using the school photographer – some schools even fine the kids if they go outside, which is probably illegal and in any event unfair and unfortunate.

Hope you will keep me in mind for any seniors you know who are looking for a photographer to record this very special time in their lives.


Beauty Lighting – Two

This is the second of a continuing series of blog posts on Beauty Lighting.  If you missed the first one, from October 13th, click here.

In general, a beauty shot is designed to create the most flattering image possible.  This image is of my friend Ainsley, a PhD student, a dancer and a model – a busy young woman! I used a new lighting setup, following a lighting design by Scott Kelby.  (Scott has some wonderful online courses at Kelby Training. ) Scott calls this “Oil of Olay” lighting. We know just what he means, right?

In this lighting setup, there are two lights and one reflector. Behind Ainsley is a large (48 inches in diameter) softbox, a big light in an umbrella-like unit, aimed toward the camera, with a silk covering to soften the light.  The softbox does two things: it provides a pure white background and it also gives a nice wraparound effect to the light.

The second light is a “beauty dish”,  also softened by silk in the front. The beauty dish, about 18 inches in diameter, is positioned above the camera and aimed down at Ainsley at about a 45 degree angle.

Finally, the reflector. Ainsley is holding a large white card just below her chin. This bounces some light back into her face, further softening the overall effect.

In the October post, I wrote about the catchlights as clues to the lighting setup. In the image above, you will see the small, bright catchlights in the upper part of her eyes (the beauty dish light) and also a larger, subtler catchlight lower in the eyes (the reflector).

Here’s another image from the shoot:

Here you can see the nice wrap around effect of the light on her shoulders, neck and face. Part of Ainsley’s right shoulder is “blown out” (not visible, details lost) by the softbox light. This won’t appeal to everyone, but for me it works fine, particularly as the area that is blown out is quite small.  I love how the glass ball is lit – shooting glass might be a subject for a future post!

Both of these images are slightly overexposed, which is fairly common for beauty lighting shots. The bright exposure tends to further soften and smooth the skin. It’s all about beauty!

Here’s one more shot of Ainsley. This one is not beauty lighting. In this image, I used just one light coming in from the left side. Her right side is purposely dark, to create a high contrast, dramatic look.