Photography Blog

Ethan: Portrait Session

Typically, my portrait sessions are on location and I use the surrounding landscape as my backdrop. In this particular case, I used a backdrop and leveraged a semi-industrial setting to enhance the session. So here’s some of the process.

I have an obsession with the neutral soft tones frequently drawn out with Oliphant backdrops, which first caught my eye in Annie Leibovitz’s work. I also studied Mark Seliger’s use of light in the Oscars portrait room for Vanity fair. I kept my eyes open for a portrait session which would lend itself to this style when I was asked to do a shoot with a local young musician.

Going into the shoot, I knew I needed a space which would let me place both my subject and backdrop in a larger setting to add to the overall style, rather than take away from it. Fortunately, the church I attend has a few industrial walls with exposed pipes - those worked flawlessly for this.

I also knew I could not afford a proper Oliphant backdrop. They’re hand painted, large, and expensive. So I did a quick search online and came across a muslin that had a similar tonality and hit it with a steamer before the session.

I dragged out my biggest umbrella (Fotodiox Parabolic with White Interior, 60”) with the Godox/Flashpoint 600 w/s monolight. I perched a smaller Flashpoint Evolv 200 behind my subject to add dimension and separate from the backdrop. It gave a great highlight on his face. The key light was close to the subject and high, pushing the light downwards and creating a nice soft wrap while defining the jaw/chin. You can mostly see the setup in the shot below.


I could have added a grid to narrow the light spread a bit and darken the backdrop but I was pleased with how everything was pulling together (doesn’t always happen like that).

There wasn’t much touchup needed in post. Ethan nailed his posing, and everything was already neutral in tonality, so just a few touches to exposure in Lightroom and we’re good to go.


Bridget and Ryan: Essex, Ct

It’s hard to believe just over a week ago we were in a heat wave! Thankfully it broke just in time for Bridget and Ryan’s wedding in Essex at one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever seen. Everything was planned with the utmost care and attention to detail and it was the perfect way to end the wedding season as Bridget and Ryan danced the night away under string lights on an early September night. There were too many good moments to share from this Essex wedding, so enjoy this brief selection:

Jeremy and Anna: Hebron, Ct

The heat wave broke right before Jeremy and Anna said their vows in the woods of Hebron, Connecticut. Family came from across the globe (literally) to laugh and love with two of the most authentic and funny people I know. Special thanks to the couple for letting me take them through the woods at Gay City State Park and pull some GQ style on the picnic tables.

Please, enjoy.