Portrait photography lighting, in its essence could be deemed successful if the person was shot completely in silhouette. Case in point, the portrait above of local painter, Paul Nabuurs was shot against a large window. No light illuminated him, but two flashes picked out features of his paintings. The window light backlit him, and helped to define his shape
People who know Paul, recognize him for his head shape and more specifically for his beard. (he has since moved into a much larger studio space)
Lighting techniques for illuminating a person, are so varied that entire books have been penned regarding them. Suffice it to say that you could try a different technique every week for your entire career and get a different result every time.
I for one am enamoured with the use of LED lights and motion as a way to bring about the feeling of spirit, energy, life. This image of Bruce in my tiny studio incorporates just that technique. We tried different types and speeds of motion with a second light (small flash) to pick out his neck tattoo each time. You will notice that even though his facial features are somewhat blurred, his tatt is relatively sharp. This is the action of the low-output flash with a tight cone mounted on it.
I use this technique quite often in my experimental work as I find it helps me express myself and my approach to recording people as they truly are. Living beings, not statues.
Further to that, being able to express that fact that my subjects are usually living (I hope), I sometimes feel the need to have them move during the exposure. Here, Samara humours me by rapidly flipping her head right to left and back again. A single flash hits the b/g while another flash with a purple gel shoots through an umbrella. Even more, I am holding an LED bulb over camera that is tinted with a mustard coloured gel. The resulting colour mix is beautiful, as you can see. The long exposure of 1/5th second gives me a bit of blur, while the flash freezes some of the image.
Experimenting with lighting is my way of metaphorically adding a new spice to the stew. Giving up and shooting like everybody else, is simply not an option. I encourage you to try it as well.
Send me a note and I'll share my list of resources for gels and lights.
Photo-Artist working a personal vision.
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