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The importance of makeup, hair and wardrobe stylists

March 21st, 2012 — 11:58am

Most personal photography is done without professional hair, makeup and wardrobe styling.  These services are, however, essential when doing an editorial or commercial shoot for a business.   In this post I’d like to suggest that you consider using a professional for makeup, hair and wardrobe when comissioning your portrait.

While a woman being photographed can do basic makeup and hair prior to the shoot and her own and the images can look good,  bringing a professional can make a huge difference.   The best makeup artists and hair stylists understand the requirements for photography - doing makeup for a party and doing makeup for a photo session require different approaches and skills.   When doing makeup for photography the makeup artist needs to be concerned with reflectivity of different products - having shimmer, for example, can be a problem because it’ll create unwanted specularity.  Glossy makeup may be important in darker skin to create highlights.  In other words, the photographer may have specific requirements for a makeup artist to make the best of a specific photographic approach and a specific skin type.   Similarly with hair and wardrobe, considerations about color palette, patterns, consistency with makeup and type of lighting used, are very important to get the best possible image. A wardrobe stylist can choose the perfect outfit, accessories, jewelry, etc for the lighting the photographer has chosen and the makeup being used.   In other words, working with a team can make a good set of images into a fantastic set of images.

While you may think that adding all these services will make the photography session too expensive, think again.  Often a makeup artist will be able to do hair styling as well, and even help with accessories and wardrobe styling.   The cost of a good makeup artist is really justified by the difference it makes in the final product.   Whenever you need an important portrait, insist that a professional help with makeup, hair and wardrobe, in addition to the capable photographer.   It’s the only way to make your images magazine worthy!   

Make up, hair, wardrobe by Keri Strong

In this image above, created last Sunday, Keri Strong provided makeup and hair and also selected the wardrobe for the shoot.  She’s very professional and a pleasure to work with.   You can find her on Facebook  

Not only are the results more professional, but a makeup artist can create a look that is different, unique, strking.  In the image above Keri used her experience and expertise to recreate the style of the 1950 - hair, makeup and even the dress.  The results are stunning and surpass what a normal portrait would do for you.

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Light and the human face

February 20th, 2012 — 8:22am

The human face is remarkable in its ability to express emotions. Sometimes a slight change in a muscle  takes the face from inescrutable to open and friendly. We people photographers are in the business of externally describing a person’s uniqueness. To do that we use several different approaches: eliciting different facial expressions, placing our subjects in a location that says something about them, and sometimes we simply use light to help us define personality and character.  Neither one of which is normally visible, but can be brought to the surface by the power of light to define moods.  Mood is not the same as personality, of course, but when we create a mood with light and other photographic symbols, the viewer infers something about the sitter’s personality from visual cues.

Consider this portrait that i created today:

Dramatic headshot

Dramatic headshot

Here the light, black and white finishing, and, of course, the serious expression, combine to create a more dramatic, theatrical headshot.  This is not a portrait of a pretty face, but an actor’s face showing character.   The light creates darks shadows on the face while chiseling it with highlights.

A completely different headshot is presented here below:

Sensitive headshot

Sensitive headshot

I use the word “sensitive” with this headshot because the drama and strong character present in the previous photo are gone; here we have a color headshot, using softer light and in color.  Plus the orientation is horizontal instead of vertical.  The subject is here presenting a softer, more sensitive side.

When I work on a portrait or headshot for an actor, we discuss ahead of time the type of images we want to create, to make sure we’re both on the same page as to the concept and what’s required to bring it to life.

1 comment » | Technical, Uncategorized

Fitness portrait of Amara

August 22nd, 2010 — 8:10pm

Final effort

Lighting: 4 strobe lights plus ambient. The portrait was made on location at a high school track this morning.

Light 1 - Key was a 22 in. beauty dish with a 40 degree grid in front of the model and pointing down, about 12 ft from her.

Lights 2 and 3 - There were 2 SB800’s one on each side behind the model, with grid or snoot, acting as kicker lights and putting a highlight around her arms and shoulders.

Light #4 - A bare SB-25 flash on a boom right above her providing a kiss of light on her hair.

Fill was ambient light.

My assistant sprayed some water around Amara to create a fresh “real” feeling.

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Antique window shopping in Crockett, TX

March 21st, 2010 — 11:17pm

As I mentioned in a previous post, we spent the last Fri and Sat in East Texas, at the Big Thicket National Preserve, and also visiting some towns in this part of the state.  We enjoyed Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, and we spent time strolling around downtown and visiting antique shops.   Around 1700, the Spanish began establishing missions in and around Nacogdoches, and we saw some of the old buildings from the town’s past.   In looking around I also found some interesting cameras, like Kodak brownies.  I found several, ranging in price from $20 to $50.  I took a picture of this Six-16 model, apparently manufactured in the US between 1938 and 1942.  I loved the trapezoidal body and the metal construction!  I think the name Six-16 came from the type of film it used, Kodak 616 film.

Kodak Six-16 Brownie

Kodak Six-16 Brownie

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My son

March 21st, 2010 — 11:00pm

This week  I had access to my son as a photographic subject, given that he was on Spring break.  For the most part he was a willing and patient model, tolerating my interruptions and going along with ideas for images.   Below are some images we created together - some more spontaenous than others, but all of them with his collaboration and consent.

The first one was done outside the house.  Pablo was playing with a buddy and I asked him to have his portrait made on the grass.  He agreed, although not very enthusiastically, and after a couple of jokes he was giving me a natural, wonderful expression, which I capture on the image below.

Pablos natural joy

Pablo's natural joy

Pablo having his lunch - he was enjoying this Chinese plate with strange veggies and mushrooms, but it was really too much food… at the end he was visibly expressing his displeasure at having to finish his meal.  And I think he was acting a little for the camera too.

Do I need to eat all this?

Do I need to eat all this?

 A while later it was time for violin practice.  He was patient with me as I inserted a black background between him and the wall, and I used a reflector to bounce some of the window light coming from camera left.   I like his dignified look here, but I am sure he was thinking something like “Dad, don’t you have some real work to do?” - one day he’ll like this picture.

The violin player

The violin player

Today Pablo learned a new trick of cards, and he was happy to show it to me.  It required four aces and it was pretty neat - he did it so well that I didn’t quite catch how he did it!  This inspired me to create an image of him with the four aces.   He went to play with a friend and when he was back I had the two portable flashes ready and I created this image by merging two separate images.

The poker hand

The poker hand

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Business portraits

June 8th, 2009 — 2:56pm

Yesterday was a busy afternoon, as I had the Indian theme session at 2pm and then a location business portrait session at 5pm. Here are a couple of images from this second session for your feedback.

Quick comments on the lighting for this one - I wanted to make use of the ambient use, which wasn’t much. I had to shoot at 1/6 sec. on a tripod. The flash was mounted on a stand, bounced off a silver Wescott umbrella and set to f/5.6 - the background was translucent and I wanted a blue high tech feeling, so I gelled the key to full CTO and I placed another SB800 behind the glass, pointing obliquely to the translucent surfaces. I used the built-in diffusor. Then I set the white balance to tungsten and got the background to go blue and nice. While I would have liked for the glass to be continuous and not have those horizontal lines behind the subject, I had to deal with what I found there.

The second image was done in a conference room with a table that had a reflective surface, so I placed the light a bit more frontally, on the other side of the table to make sure it was bouncing off the table and creating a reflection. I need to edit out the thingie on his reflected face, probably an imperfection on the table. The necktie could have been better placed, but missed it as I was paying attention to the lighting and pose mostly. Oh well.

There was natural light coming into the room from behind the camera, and I wanted to use that as fill, so I set the shutter speed to 1/20 sec to catch it. Main was the same SB800 on the umbrella with a 1/4 CTO just to warm up skin tones a bit. I also have a second SB00 pointing to the yellow wall to create better separation, I think you can see a bit of a halo around the subject’s head. I took the plant from the hall and put it there as an accent.


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Love Black and White portraits!

April 22nd, 2009 — 3:26pm

I met with Savanah, a young and very pretty model, on Sunday to make some portraits on location.  She was really good to work with and had great outfits and props.  We had fun.   Here are three portraits shot in the same location with different lighting setups:

  • The first one is light hitting a silver reflector and bouncing it back onto Savanah’s face as the main light.
  • The second one is a small flash/softbox light overpowering the sun, which is behind the model.  A reflector is putting detail in the shadows.
  • The third one is pure ambient light, afternoon sunlight in open shade.

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Studio session with Christa

April 22nd, 2009 — 3:15pm

Christa has amazing gree eyes! She came to the studio to help me create business images for my stock portfolio, and she did a really good job with expressions and poses.  I am pleased with the results! We used a white background and diffused light to create pleasant images for commercial purposes.   After we finished that we decided to change the light and the outfit to create more of a beauty look for Christa’s portfolio.   The light changed from being a large softbox to being a 20 degree grid spot on her face.  I removed the fill light used a reflector instead to add some detail to the shadows.  I also left the background pure white to contrast with the dramatic lighting on her face.  The beautiful eyes, the red color and and dramatic light have created an interested portrait!

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Session with Jeremiah

April 17th, 2009 — 7:11am

This week I had a business portraiture with Jeremiah James (JJ) - we went for a clean, professional look for my microstock business portraiture portfolio.   I used a white background and simple diffused lighting with a silver reflector for a bit of a kick.  I have attached here a headshot from this session.

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Session with Jae

April 8th, 2009 — 4:34pm

On Sunday 4/5 I had a portrait session with Jae.  She’s a local actress and we wanted to create some simple portraits that would show her beautiful features and skin.  For this session I created a background consisting of two patterns, one of horizontal lines and the other random, one on each side of the background.  I also used a red gel to get some intensity that would contrast with her black outfit.   Overall I like the results, what do you think?

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