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Brown Skin woman Natural Hair Portrait Glenford Nunez

Taylor Thompkins Natural Hair Portrait

Taylor Thompinks Natural Hair Portrait Mented Cosmetics Andre Walker Hair photographed by Glenford Nunez

Taylor Thompinks Natural Hair Portrait

Here is a natural hair portrait of Taylor Thompkins  that I photographed for a collaboration between Andre Walker Hair and Mented Cosmetics.

The Process

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 was super excited to switch things up and use my brand new AlienBees Digibee flash unit with a Giant Octabox and grid.

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

Rants & Tangents

I was inspired by an article I read about lighting dark skin people. The DP (Director of Photography) for the popular show Insecure discuses what it means to light people of color.

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.

Taylor Thompkins Natural Hair Portrait

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An award winning commercial photographer on the East Coast.