Rebecca is the latest friend to come to the home studio for a portrait session, and man is she amazing to photograph. It’s becoming quickly apparent that it’s impossible to get bored with portraiture when you have amazing people to work with who are creative and are game for anything. This time around, I had several shots pre-visualized before we began. The first one is this natural light portrait using windows as the light source. We took advantage of the fading afternoon light and went for a bedroom scene (in my dining room).


I put a bed sheet on an ottoman to act as a bed. The problem was that I forgot how tall Rebecca is, and any shot that showed her whole body on the ottoman looked quite strange. It made her look like she was in a toddler’s bed, which is less than sexy when you think about it. No problem, I just shot tighter on her and got an implied photo. Sexy’s back!

Next, I wanted to showcase her amazing long auburn hair. We broke out the industrial fan and had her whipping her head from front to back to get her hair to catch the wind like a sail.


My goal was to have her flip her head enough times until she passed out. Not really, but I’m sure it felt like that to her. This kind of shot is all about timing. Hit the shutter at the perfect time while the hair is spread out and her face doesn’t look like someone who’s moving up and down vigorously. That’s not an easy shot to get without a lot of attempts. Saying that she’s a trooper is an understatement.


This is my final pre-visualized shot. I wanted to get this angle showing the piano and guitar on one side of the wall and Rebecca on the other side. This is one shot – not a diptych. I was inspired to use some of my old records in it after a friend of mine from back in my punk rock musician days posted vintage photos of girls with records on his Facebook page. Thanks for the inspiration Frank!


Katie, who works with Rebecca and is also just plain awesome, was helping out with the shoot and got drafted into a similar shot. I’m blessed to know such beautiful people! This shot rocks almost as hard as Katie at an Avett Brothers show at the North Charleston Coliseum (I’m still indebted because she invited me into the box seats with her friends at that show).


The above shot was a suggestion of Rebecca’s, which was to shoot her on a magenta background to compliment a green dress she wanted to wear. With such big bright blue eyes and the rich colors of her dress, her hair, and the background (I used a speedlight with a magenta gel on it to get that), I wanted to get a big smiling portrait. Rebecca’s such a fun girl that it’s more than easy to get a natural reaction out of her.


This was the final frame of the shoot. I love to do a head shot like this at the end of a shoot because at that point the person has been coached so much that they just easily connect with the camera. They’re all warmed up and comfortable, and it’s also quite a slow-down from the rest of the shoot. I just use the modeling lights and a 50mm lens, and really tone it down. I can fire off multiple shots while talking and complimenting the subject on the work we just did, and it really makes for a beautiful expression.

As I do this more, I’m really seeing the importance of vision over technical ability. You need the technical ability for sure, but without the vision, making a good photo becomes a game of luck. Why take only chances? The photo at the top of this post is an example of free-styling it. It might be one of my favorite shots that I’ve made in a long time, but it really was a lucky shot that I got while we were working out some fashion poses. Her expression is amazing and it was a decisive moment that was lost in the very next frame of the same setup. The blowing hair shot though, which was heavily planned and worked on, was destined to succeed because I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like before I took the shot. Sure, luck is a great thing, but it’s not predictable. Hard work and visualization can be.

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