This was shot in a studio with the 85mm. I recently got my 85mm back after I had sold it a few years ago. The lens is a beast. Not sure why I got rid of it. Maybe its because I have been using the 135mm but that lens has since fallen out of my favor.
I used one strobe light with a small soft box light modifier attached. The light was set to the lowest power possible. I didn’t want to flood the photo with too much light. I don’t remember the brand name but it may have been Profoto but I am not sure. I guess it really doesn’t matter. I used one circular reflector for a little bit of bounce.
Rants & Tangents
I am really happy with the results of this photo. It’s among my top favorite portraits of all time. I think that everything came together for the shoot. Starting with the model. Awar is one of the sweetest most kind hearted people I have ever met. Her energy is infectious. She knows how to put on the model face when the lights are on but in between frames she is all smiles and laughter.
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.
Ramblings, Rants, Tangents, and Free Thought
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?
This is a Janelle Monae Profile Portrait. I shot this in NYC for Pitchfork Magazine. Pitchfork is The essential guide to independent music and beyond. The found me through my natural hair photo book called the Coiffure Project.
The story eventually was picked up by PDN Magazine. One of the top photo magazines in the world!
My images made it on to the cover of PDN Magazine! You know I was hype. It still feels like a dream for a dude from Baltimore. It was a moment were all of the the hard work appeared to pay off. But we know that its just the beginning and the grind never stops.
These images where shot with my FujiFilm x100s Mirrorless camera with a wide open aperture so that I could blur out the background. I cant remember but I think i was at f/2. Im sure I can open up light room right now to figure out the exact aperture but one thing at a time.
We were located in a community garden in Tribeca New York. We did not use strobe lights for this shoot because the sun was just right so all we needed was a reflector.
The subject (Janelle) was really cool. She was a chill person. I wish we had more time to chat about the universe but we were on a tight schedule. Celebrities tend to be very busy so we had to get the shots quickly.
I think we established that we were both Sagittarius which I thought was kind of cool. Searching for some kind of connection. Maybe im over thinking things. Hahaha!
Janelle had a beauty staff making sure her look was crisp. Her makeup was on point and her natural hairstyle was a piece of art.
This is a photograph of Jessica Chibueze shot in Washington, DC. I took the train to DC because it was the halfway point for Jessica and I.
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.
Rants and Tangents
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 think I used a beauty dish for this shoot.
The lens was a Manual Nikon 135mm f/2.8 AI-s. This lens is crazy sharp. I recently put it back in my bag.
Looking through my old work and I realize that I like my older photos better. I think its a time when I was more into photographs and I was worried less about what people thought of my work. There was a roughness about the photos. I experimented a lot back then. I used different lenses and light set ups. I guess I was searching for a specific look.
It has been yeas since I shot this photo but I have learned a lot of lesson. One to the biggest is simplicity. The photos that stand out to me the most are simple. There are not a lot of distraction. Also the most powerful photos in my opinion always have some sort of subtle quark. A slight imperfection or lip twitch or eyebrow twitch or funny head tilt or something. Portrait photography is great because everyone is different and everyone has their subtle features. Its is my job as a photographer to capture them. Better yet its my job as a photographer to share those unique photos.
In the darkroom photographers encounter photos that make us think twice. We love it deep down inside but we wonder if the rest of the world will. It is important to post the photos that we are nervous to post.