Shot with Nikon 135mm f/2.8 AI-S.
Window light and bounce card.
Hair by Chicara Johnson
When shooting for a brand, consistency is important so I used studio lighting. I usually use natural light so this was welcome change. The key light (main light source) was located on the right side of the model and I used a white board on the right side as a bounce fill.
My current studio space does not have enough ceiling height to achieve the look that I wanted so instead of having the model stand I asked her to sit on a small step stool. Like one of those kitchen step stools for small people to get stuff from the top shelf. Conditions will never be “perfect” so you have to get comfortable solving problems on the fly. The step stool tweak put the model at the perfect height to get the look that was in my head.
Conditions will never be “perfect” so you have to get comfortable solving problems on the fly.
The back drop is a white wall but I wanted it to be grey. You can achieve this by making sure that no light hits the backdrop. The subject has to be far enough away from the backdrop so that the key light does not affect the tone of the backdrop. The angle of the key light is also important. This is why I like to shoot with the light high up so I can tilt it downward. A grid also helps with controlling the direction of the light.
I used a Nikon D750 with my Nikon 135mm f/2.8 set on f/4.0, 1/160 sec, ISO 200. The 135 is manual focus but once you master focusing correctly the lens becomes one of the best portrait lenses ever made. An exaggeration? Probably, but I really love this lens!
Hair by Chicara Johnson.
Makeup by Jamaya Moore
The article is a little technical but it is worth the read even if you don’t understand the numbers.
Photographic technology was never designed for black people so we have to get creative. We have to step out of the norm and develop our own methods so we can get the best results.
I even think about traditional painting and how you don’t see many black people. I imagine that the pigments used in oil paints are formulated for lighter toned people. The paint techniques are different as well.
The current situation does not have to be a bad thing. This only means that the door is wide open for innovation.
Here are a few portraits of people who stood out to me at AfroPunk 2017. Oh, and there is a Double dutch and a Cadillac.
Paige Gary Fashion Portrait
This is a fashion portrait of Paige Gary. I met Paige on Instagram reached out to her and she agreed to come to Baltimore from NYC to work together. She is super down to earth and it was a fun time.
We shot this outside in between two buildings. The sun was shining hard so we found a spot where the light was not too intense.
I shot this with my Nikon D700 and the Nikon AF Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 AI-s manual focus lens. If you read my journal often then you already know that this is my favorite lens of all time. Haha!
I wanted the photo to be on the warmer side so I pushed my white balance to the max at 10000K(Kelvin).
Understanding color temperature can assist with shooting your subjects better.
Check out Essence Magazine June 2017 – In stores now- to see my latest project Why Not Me.
Shout out to Tia for helping out with the talent scouting for this project. Video coming soon and we have so many more photos to shoot. Sticking with the photo project format because it gives me some direction. My mind is all over the place all of the time so a compass is useful.
We have another series that we are shooting now so watch out for that.
Never really sure what to call these. Portraits? Fashion portraits? Its really not fashion though. Well I guess its just a portrait then.
This is a photo from a short photo series that will be coming out next month in July. Will keep you posted.
This was shot with the 135mm which is turning into my favorite portrait lens of all time. Its a challenge to work with because it is manual focus but when you get it right the results are great.
Model Shamika Young.
A few months ago I got an opportunity to work with Ollanla, a fashion company which combines African iconography and details with modern silhouettes.
Wish I could share more but you will have to wait until they launch in Summer 2017.
This is a photo I shot a while ago of Jessica Chibueze. She has been one of my favorite models to work with. Jessica is a super nice person and her skin tone is great. The light dances on her skin.
We shot this outside somewhere in downtown DC. It was in front of a building that was under construction. There was a black tarp hanging from the side of the building so I used this as the backdrop for the shoot. A security guard was watching us closely but it did not take a long time to get the shots I needed. Snapping the shutter only takes seconds once all of the pieces are in place. The son was in the perfect place and the model new how to move in front of the camera. We came away with a great portrait.
I shot this with my Nikon D700 and the Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D.
This is a great portrait lens but I have sold it because I have a 50mm that can achieve great results. I wanted to make room in my photo bag.
I have worked with Jessica on many occasions for paid shoots but this was the first time we were able to work together for personal work.
We spent some time walking around the city looking for the perfect location. Usually I walk and talk with the model until they make an expression that catches me off guard or when the light hits them in a way that shocks me. If you are a photographer you know what feeling im talking about. That jolt of energy that shoots through your entire body the model and the light is perfect. I love the way that the sun is wrapping her brown skin.
We talked about life and photography and modeling and fashion and non profit organizations and humanitarian work. Jessica is very active in the humanitarian field. She does a lot of work in Africa.
I photographed the magazine cover photo with my FujiFilm x100s mirrorless camera. I have the silver model but I really want the all black edition.
I really like this camera because it is three times smaller and lighter than any of my Nikon DSLR cameras.
Sometimes it is hard for the subject to hear my directions because the larger DSLR cameras create a barrier between me and the.
The smaller size of the FujiFilm X100s makes it easier to communicate with the person that I am photographing. I think that the photos come out better because there is a deeper connection made. The difference is like a face to face conversation versus a conversation through text messages.
Another great feature of the Fuji X100S is that it does not make any noise. This is a great feature because the sound of the camera shutter can prompt subjects to change their expressions causing the photos to look unnatural.
I used the sun as my light source and and a round reflector for fill light.
Hair, makeup, and wardrobe were provided by Janelle Monae’s team. I must mention that her team was awesome because behind the scenes professionals don’t get enough love.
Janelle Monae PDN Magazine Cover
I really enjoyed working with Janelle Monae because she is chill. She was quiet at first but she came alive when she stepped in front of the camera.
Sometimes (a lot of the time) celebrities arrive fashionable late to photo shoots. This means that I get less time to capture the shots. Fortunately, her management gave us more time to shoot. I still had to get the shots really quickly but we got the job done!
Diandra is a great model and is a photographers dream. We have worked together before in the past. She loves the camera and she knows her best angles. She arrived to the studio photo shoot ready and all we had to do was snap the shutter.
We used natural light from the window. The windows were located behind me. I shot this image with a Nikon D700 with an Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D. The 85 is a great portrait lens but I sold it. I try to simplify my camera bag when I can but more about that later.
I have so many images in my archive that the world hasn’t seen. It is time to start releasing it. I believe that we are all sent here to do that “thing”. The thing that makes us happy. Portrait photography is my thing. Making images has always been in me. Make cool stuff and share it.
More on simplicity. If its not a definite yes then it is a definite no. I try my best to apply this mantra to all aspects of my life. This way of thinking is particularly helpful when you need to optimize your camera bag. I use the same equipment 85% of the time for all of my shoots. Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, round reflector, and natural light.
If I use strobe lights it is typically an Alien Bee 800 flash head or a Profoto flash head (if I am renting equipment) paired with a large octabank light modifier. That’s it! No mas.
I also take my cue from studying top photographers. The great image makers have very simple setups. They are not bogged down by excess equipment. They know exactly how to make the image that they want to make with the gear that they have. How may knives does a great chef need?
Diandra Rose Natural Hair Portrait