Category Portraits

Cinematic, environmental portraits

I love creating environmental portraits.  That’s good, because I make an awful lot of these as a commercial photographer.

One challenge when doing such location portraits is that the benefit—the environment, which can offer very cool, very visually striking contextual cues—can also be a severe liability.  Imagine showing up to a shoot to find you are limited to shooting portraits inside a tiny conference room with orange walls, or in the middle of summer using an interior of a steel shipping container (both are recent examples).

So what do you do when the environment detracts from,  instead of adds to, your portraits?

I opt to shoot portraits with very shallow depth of field, in order to throw my distracting backgrounds out of focus.  Then I carefully add in lights to create depth and color as needed. Given the time of day or the situation, this may require using ND (neutral density) filters or high-speed sync to achieve this look, but it’s worth the extra effort.

The results are tack-sharp portraits that pop from the soft background, minimizing the things I don’t want while giving a sort of cinematic feel that I love.





Cool water, hot look


I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mallory Sophronia, a clothing designer who loves to model her own creations. Looking at her body of work, it was clear that Mallory is a creative person with a great, fun sense of style. In every photo, she brings something new and different-hard to imagine it’s the same person in each shot, which is a good thing.
I had in mind a shoot in a pool, focusing on Mal’s eyes and using the water’s surface to work in some amazing reflections. This shoot is all about intensity and body language, both of which Mallory has in spades. We shot at a local hotel on Friday and the entire crew had a great time–including Laura Flood, a makeup artist and stylist who accompanied us on location. The theme of the shoot is “Surface”–symbolizing the act of rising from the dark into the light and hinting at the strength and energy beneath.
And if that’s reaching a bit, consider this: it just looks cool. Thanks, Mallory!