Archive for January, 2010


Beauty Lighting – Three

In my post of December 17th, I talked about a beauty lighting technique, sometimes referred to as the “Oil of Olay” look.  (You’ll just have to go back and read that post to see how the lighting was set up.)  Here’s another image using the same lighting scheme, from a recent shoot with a lovely model named Bella.

You can see the back light wrapping around her face, particularly in the cheeks and the base of the neck.

One of the things that happens with this lighting is that the colors and the contrast are often muted. I made some adjustments in Photoshop to bring back a bit of color and punch. But the soft overall look, with a bit of glow to the face, is what this look is all about.

Here’s the black and white version:



I’ve been experimenting a lot recently with backlighting – that is, having the light behind the subject, aimed towards the camera. This is tricky and usually takes a lot of trial and error to get a pleasing effect.

In this image of the model Cara, I used a large softbox, a big light with a silky fabric to diffuse the light. Then, covering part of the light, I placed a black “flag” for Cara to stand in front of. A flag is anything that blocks light In this case, it was simply a large black piece of poster board. The effect overall is similar to windowlight, although very bright windowlight, to be sure.

Showing the large strip of white on the left side of the image goes against some of the “rules.” I liked it for balance in the image. Does it work for you? If I were to print this image, I might put a very thin black line around the whole image, to show that the white is part of the composition.

I also like Cara’s enigmatic expression.  What is she thinking? When it’s hard to tell, the viewer will typically let his or her imagination take over and infer some thought or feeling to the person. Where does your imagination take you with this photograph?


Glamour Model Shoot

Recently I had the pleasure of shooting with Jessamyne, an Australian model. Jessamyne is a true redhead and a real pro. Also working on this shoot was another real pro, my friend Maria Dominici, who was the makeup artist. You can see more of Maria ‘s work by clicking here.

We were going for the big glamour look. Maria emphasized this with false eyelashes, bright red glossy lips and beautifully airbrushed skin. For lighting, I used a “beauty dish,” a very flattering reflector and also bounced in some light from below for a soft look.

One of the joys of a shoot like this is working cooperatively with the other professionals. While I had some ideas on shoot concepts, I solicited their views as well. All of our creative ideas came together to make to shoot work. Someone might say, “Let’s try this!” and we were off and running.

And, to be sure, there’s a lot I don’t know about women’s fashion and styles, makeup, etc. So I need to lean on the others. Gradually, I’m learning!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I spend a lot of time editing the images in Photoshop after the shoot. In some cases, I’ll spend over an hour on one image. I love doing the editing and spend a fair amount of time learning new techniques.

The ideas and experience I gain from model shoots like this one are tremendously helpful in my portrait work with “regular” women and men.


Tap App !

One of the joys of studio photography is getting asked to do shoots that are completely new and different. Recently, Eli Newsom, an outstanding tap dancer and tap instructor, asked if  I would shoot stills of taps steps, to be used for an iPhone application (or “app”).  The answer – SURE!

In the studio, we did about 170 shots, representing tap step sequences. These images have gone into the iPhone app, that is just out today, called “Tap App.”   Just tap here, no pun intended, to buy the app for your iPhone. For $1.99, you can practice the tap steps in your own home or while waiting for the bus.

One of the fun parts of the shoot was catching Eli at just the right moment. For example, in the shot to the right, we needed to catch his feet at the top of a jump, with the heels just clicking together. You have to anticipate these moments, because there is a lag from the brain deciding to shoot, then sending a signal to your shutter finger, then the finger responding, then the shutter actually opening to take the picture.Whew! best not to think about how hard this is – just anticipate.  We did pretty well, and had very few retakes.

By the way, Eli is appearing as lead  in “The Full Monty” in Stamford (February) and Bridgeport (March).