Class Introduction


Lighting and Posing for a Cinematic Portrait


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

My name's Dan Brouillette, I live in Omaha, Nebraska. I've lived there for a few years. Before that I actually lived out in New York City where I was a lighting assistant and photographer for a number of years, living in Brooklyn and working on all sorts of shoots from celebrity shoots to advertising shoots to you name it. So a lot of different experiences that have kind of shaped how I approach my photography both in lighting and actual shooting and everything else. So with that said, I want to get into this class which is Lighting and Posing for a Cinematic Portrait. And this is probably my, of the classes I've done today this is probably my favorite one and the one I was looking most forward to, I'm glad it's the last one. So for me, a cinematic portrait is kind of that moment that's caught. When I first got into photography back in, I don't know, 15, 16 years ago, I would sit at Borders bookstore and browse all the different magazines from ESPN magazine to GQ to W to any magazines ...

that had portraits of people in different environments doing things, where it was almost like a still from a movie, things like that. So that's what really drew me into photography, it was that use of lighting on location and bringing all of those elements together to kind of catch a moment. So I want to get into the fundamentals of that. But first I want to thank the people who helped me with all of my stuff, which is WHCC, White House Custom Color, they do all my printing, print my portfolios and all that good stuff. And then Profoto for providing all the lighting that I use, from the B2 and B1 lights to all the modifiers, their stuff is awesome and thanks to them. So let's get into the introduction about cinematic portraits. Here's a little bit about what we're going to cover. So we're going to start off, again, Lighting and Posing for the Cinematic Portrait, first off I want to talk about the purpose. So what is the whole point of a cinematic portrait? What does it mean, why do we want to do it? Why are we intrigued by it? How do you create cinematic portraits in the studio and on location? How do you do it using natural light or studio light? I want to go over all of those elements of what make up a cinematic portrait. So everything that involves the purpose and philosophy behind the portrait. Next I want to go over the fundamentals. Again, this is kind of more of how you can create based on everything that we're going to be learning today. So it's all of the elements as they build, one on top of each other, to create that portrait, to get that moment. We're going to be covering the natural light version where, you know, a lot of these will be images I've already created that and shot on location. I'll break those down into the scenario and the direction I gave the model, the lighting used, the story behind it, because there's always a story behind a cinematic portrait, whether it's just a minor little detail or an entire elaborate scenario. Then we're going to move into the studio. I want to talk about how to use studio light, inside and outside, to create environmental portraits, cinematic portraits. And then also we're going to talk about direction. We have a model here, we're going to be doing a couple different versions of cinematic portraits with her in studio, so that'll be the other side. The ones I'm going to show you up front will be all on location, but once you get into studio it takes a little more direction to catch that moment because it's so easy to just get a posed portrait. But to make a moment where it feels caught and candid is a whole another story. So I want to talk about how we get there and how we can use light and direction to capture that moment. And then lastly, I want to talk about exposures. What I mean by that is we're going to do a multiple exposure shot and we're also going to do a shot where we drag the shutter, kind of a long exposure, using Studio Strobe. So it's a little different approach than what you normally do. I'll tell you how, all the reasonings and all the elements that go into that because it is a little bit tricky, it's taken a lot of practice, but I've kind of broken it down into some key things that you can take home and try on your own.

Class Description

Creating a cinematic look to your portraits will add another dimension by incorporating depth, emotion, and movement. Award-winning editorial and advertising photographer Dan Brouillette breaks down the components of lighting for a strong portrait. He will show you how he uses different lenses and lighting setups to make your portraits stand out and take on new life. He'll also explain how to direct the subject so they are involved to help bring all of the elements together for an amazing and cinematic photograph.



I was interested in this course firstly because I am interested in this type of image and secondly because of the negative reviews. I seldom watch instructional videos these days because I want to be instructed on all the details but I do watch lots of them because of the inspiration they can be for new work. This video is a walk through of some great shots taken by the photographer but that is fine by me and certainly gives some ideas for new material. The little bit of studio work on a white seamless is also fine and gives some insight into capturing the image, which is easily transferred to a hosed-down, back lit, cobbled alley or anywhere else you can imagine. I use this type of image in pre-wedding shoots and my only criticism is that the video could have given better examples of a really cinematic look. e.g. there is a scene in the movie 'Unbreakable' where Bruce Willis falls onto a pool cover in the pouring rain. The shot is made low to the ground with a long lens and it makes a terrific inspiration for a photoshoot. Or, there is the airport scene in 'Casablanca' or pulling the boat up-river in 'The African Queen', which I recently saw a Hong Kong photographer reproduce for a pre-wedding shoot in Iceland. There are millions of examples like this so finding more challenging scenes to motivate a cinematic look is not really hard. Google 'movie posters' and you will see what I mean. Nevertheless, there are good examples and some great ideas available here, making the videos value for money.


This course provided a practical application of some the basic creative tools and techniques that I learned years ago in an entry-level photography course in college. The beauty of Dan Brouillette's creative strategy and teaching style lies in his ability to make dynamic and interesting portraiture simplistically attainable. Brouillette breaks down his own work, walking you through the creative and technical process that he used. He is an interesting speaker--well-informed, technically proficient & relatable. I was lucky enough to be in the audience for this course. I found the content incredibly useful and easy to learn. Thank you for an awesome course!


I like Dan's easy going nature when presenting this information. Loved watching him demo this live!