I am very excited about this theme. Sarah and I had been in contact to do a conceptual shoot. We discussed doing something dark. We threw some ideas back and forth and we settled on the following looks. Sarah not only models, but is a fabulous makeup artist. She is truly a talent with the special effects and fantasy makeup.
Today my friend and I scouted locations in Royal Oak for an upcoming shoot that we have planned. While we were planning the locations and finalizing the concept details, we took some time to create some images of each other. My friend has amazing eyes. I almost don't want him to look away from the camera or convert any images to black and white because I don't want to lose his eye color.
Corian contacted me wanting to add images to his portfolio. His physique had changed since the last time we worked together and he wanted to update his porfolio to showcase his current shape. It is always wise to keep your portfolio up to date so that when agencies cast you, they have your current appearance.
Corian is enthusiastic and willing to try different ideas. He delivers the poses with little direction and his expressions are wonderful for acting and commercial work.
I love contrast and shadows. It's pretty evident in my images. It wasn't always that way. When you start to read too many instructions and rules, it's easy to convolute them and become afraid to experiment or break rules.
When you first start learning photography, you learn that shadows are bad. Many sources condemn shadows, claiming that they are distracting or intrude on the face. Now I'm not criticizing the instructors or books. They are right. The wrong kind of lighting can produce unflattering shadows. Think of the overhead lighting from bright mid-day sun. It cast shadows under the eyes, nose, and chin in such a way that is never flattering to a subject.
But, like a lot of things, it's easy to take the idea of reducing shadows to an extreme. Instead of working with the lighting to create flattering shadows, the latest trend seems to be a shadowless image. The problem with this is that the image becomes very flat and two-dimensional.
If you look at classical art styles, you see that they use shadows to show dimension in their work. The shadow and highlights in images give a two dimensional art form a three dimensional look. The art "pops," if you will.
There is a reason that a lighting technique in photography is called Rembrandt lighting. It was derived from the artist Rembrandt's paintings. If you study his work, you see a triangle of light on the shadow side of the face.
If you take your subject's face into consideration, you will find that each face shape benefits from different kinds of lighting. You can use the shadows in your favor to thin a round face. Conversely, you can widen a narrow face by reducing the amount of shadow.
Additionally, shadows can enhance a composition. Shadows exist in life so why would we erase a shadow from an image? For example, if your model is close to the wall, why flat light them? If you play with the angle of your lighting, you can produce a flattering shadow, not a halo shadow you'd get from an on camera flash, but a natural shadow that could appear in low afternoon light. By adding this kind of flattering light, you've created interest, time, and an additional compositional element in your image.
Play with your lighting. Some setups will fail, while others will speak to you. But if you never experiment and fail, you will never learn when a shadow is good and when it is unflattering. It takes a little more work to set up your lights to produce shadows in the right places. It also takes patience and direction from you to your model so they know exactly where to pose causing the light hits them correctly. It's easy to throw a lot of diffused soft light on someone and shoot a series of very flat lit images, but if you take some time, create directional light, and pose and setup your image, you can create more memorable images with different looks and shadows. Think of it as painting with light. You don't throw a bucket of paint at a canvas and call it art. You meticulously add the dabs of color where you want it in order to create the artwork. Well, try meticulously adding dabs of light to your model and see the difference it makes in your images.
This article eloquently explains why we should print images and not keep them as digital only:
There are a lot of filters and photoshop actions floating around that add special effect to your image. But did you know that you can achieve many of the effects right in your camera? Photo manipulation has been around since photography was invented. There are tricks that you can do in the dark room to enhance or manipulate an image and there are tricks that you can do in the camera to create special effects.
In this image, I created a "ghosting" effect straight out of the camera. You simply set a slow shutter speed, let your subject move slightly, then fire the flash to freeze your subject at the end of the movement.
Here's where previsualization comes into play. I knew I wanted to "ghost" this image, but I did not want it in color. I wanted it to look like an old black and white "ghost hunter" image. So, the only post production I did was increase contrast and convert the image to black and white.
I am a Warren, MI based headshot, fashion, fantasy, fine art, senior, and portrait photographer. I have photographed the Detroit area and Southeastern Michigan for over 25 years.