Shoot: Stylized Portrait - Close Up Part 3
Years ago I did a shoot with a friend of mine. I cast him in this small job and it was kind of like, we put quite a bit of makeup on him. It was a bit over the top and he was a Professor. I don't know what happened. Usually, we always have wet towels and stuff to clean up afterwards or whatever and he's never done it before. He's not like an actor, model, or anything. He's like, "Alright, cool, thanks." We were shooting six people that day so I just said bye and thanks and everything. I gotta call from him later that night. He went to class, he was teaching right afterward. He got up and taught and the whole class, people were kinda like whispering and laughing and stuff. He was really self conscience. He was like, "What is going on?" At the end, someone was like, "Are you wearing makeup?" (laughter) He was like, "Oh my gosh!" He had orange all over his face and stuff. Which eye are you thinkin'?
I'm kinda thinking that side.
Right through here just 'cause we have more ligh...
t on her.
I like that, yeah, I think that's good. I think we'll go for something very straight on again like this and kinda just slightly cheating your left side to camera and we'll just kinda knife ya--
Right across the eye, if you're cool with that.
Are you waiting on me?
Yeah, I think we're ready to roll. Are you ready?
I thought you were shooting this.
Oh no, I'm sorry. Alright, go for it. Actually, I'm gonna hand that to you, thanks. I don't wanna move her this time so can we get her an apple?
Okay, this is gonna be kinda sticky.
Maybe they wanna see the scar go on, it's kinda cool. (laughter)
They might be able to do both. So with regard to this setup and what we have going on, maybe now we can talk about your team and what everyone is doing within this. Maybe like Josh and the digi-tech. How are you guys working together for starters?
Sure, so this is Josh, say Hi everybody.
Josh is digital-teching today so maybe you could talk better than I could about what you're doing. Do you mind?
Primarily, I'm responsible for the technology on the set. Making sure that the camera stays connected to the computer. Also taking a look at exposure, focus, any major compositional issues. If there's a light stand in the background, for example. Subtly pointing it out to John and letting him resolve it as best he sees fit.
And also managing the images and the file name and the folder structure and all that kinda stuff. Before I started working with the digital-tech, I would just kinda do that myself and especially if you're shooting a job or something where there's many different people, to not do that on the spot when you're creating, it could take a full day just renaming files and putting them in the right folders and trying to figure out where things are. That's the pits when, especially if you give proofs to someone and then you change the name, I mean, you just can't do that. It's happened and it's terrible when someone's like, "We want file name 002" and you're like, "That file doesn't exist" 'cause you renamed it or whatever. That's also a really huge important part. Making backups and making sure there's multiple backups and they're not all in one place so it's a big responsibility.
The other big thing that people want to know is if you can talk us through the lighting scenario. The key light, some folks were wondering what the light behind you, if that was getting in the way. If you just talk about the lighting setup, that'd be great.
Sure, maybe what we could do is, maybe we could turn off the fill and we could just show people what the key looks like by itself.
Can I have a little light?
No, you do you thing. Actually, Jennifer needs that light real quick so we will do that, we're all over the place.
Like specifically, are you using a beauty dish as the key?
The key light is a beauty dish and I think it's about 21 inches, is that right, 21 inches in diameter?
I don't know on that one.
It's silver on the inside. I've actually never used that before. I have a beauty dish that's white on the inside and it was kinda fun to play with this a little bit for the first time. The silver just gives it a much punchier look than the white one and then we also have a grid in it, which focuses the light. The thing that I love about gridded beauty dishes is that if you've ever used a seven inch reflector, which is just the standard reflector that comes with most strobe heads, you can buy grids for those also. Those are really, really focused and they drop off really quickly. The thing that's cool about the gridded beauty dish is it has a little bit more spread so I kind of think of it as if sun was coming through leaves on a tree without, necessarily, the pattern of the leaves obviously. It has that kind of like soft, subtle, flowing feel to it. We have that light hitting her. I'm trying to keep the brightest point on her face, which is where I like to keep the focus. Then it just kinda slowly dissipates as it spreads out around throughout the rest of the frame. So that's the key light and that's also what creates the shadow under her nose, it defines where the shadow begins to wrap on the other side of her face. Then what this guy does is this is just a fill light and I like to put it directly behind me usually. I like to keep it so that the center of it is below the subject's nose. I don't want it creating any of it's own shadows. It's only job is to fill in the shadows that already exist. It's large enough that I can sit in front of it and it will wrap around me. So if anything, I'm diffusing it to some extent. It's large enough and soft enough to just kinda reach all sides of her face and things like that. We also have this little white card just kind of close to her face, above her shoulder to just try to fill in a little bit of some of that shadow that's feeling a little too heavy on that side of her face. There's actually nothing going on in the background. We've got lights back there but they're not firing at all. The background light is just whatever is seeping in from primarily this fill light here.
Alright, how we lookin'?
Just giving it a little bit of color.
Oh, cool, does it feel weird?
Do you feel your skin like tightening?
Okay, oh, here it is. I'm excited about this picture. I think it looks really cool.
So, John, while we're finishing that up, how about the other crew members that you have, on this set in particular?
On this set, So we have Jennifer, Jennifer Popochock. That's why you probably hear me callin' her J Pop. She is out hair and makeup artist. We work together a lot. You can talk more about your experience but she's awesome all around but she's especially talented at doing things like giving people scars or giving people facial prosthetics. We do a lot of wig and mustache work so I've learned a ton from her on that and how to build characters and how those things kind of come into play. It's different for film and stills but there's a lot of retouching sometimes that has to take place with wigs 'cause there's like this lace and stuff. She still does this amazing job of blending that in to skin somehow.
So you're not trying to do that yourself?
No, no, that's like a legitimate skill that I do not possess so I can't even imagine what this would look like if I was trying to do any of this myself. People would probably be crying and calling their mothers, I don't know. Then we also have Ken and John who are assisting back here. They're hiding.
So a photo-assist and a light-assist?
Yes, so they are doing a lot of work behind the scenes. They were working tirelessly last night and this morning. Setting up the lights and testing them and getting electrical and everything set and just making sure that everything is kinda in it's place and they're always thinking two steps ahead of me. They're thinking, "John looks really tired. He needs a break or he needs water." Or there's a shadow coming in from somewhere or someone's standing in the wrong place, all that kinda stuff. There's a million things that you never could even imagine that happen that they're prepared for.
Let's just do a quick test shot of this and then I'm gonna get some anti-shine for it.
Okay, you wanna do that first? I can wait.
No, let's do a shot while I'm grabbing my--
So somebody just remind me and I'll turn the fill off at some point. We'll do the scar test here right now though. Alright, so give me your best knife fight face. (laughter) Swivel your head a little, yeah, there we go. That's good, right there. (camera shudder) Let's have a look, that's pretty awesome, that's crazy. That's hardcore, man.
Oh yeah, for the eye, go ahead and look up. It kinda grabbed a lot of the dirt that was on there. It's kinda a darker brown so I had to lighten it up with a little pink.
Okay, can we do one more test shot? I just wanna see it better.
Alright. (camera shudder) That's pretty awesome, can you zoom in there? So if there's any way--
Should I bring it more up, closer to the eye?
Yeah, I feel like it probably would wanna go a little higher maybe.
Okay, so close your eyes.
So if we have just a little bit of time left. Kinda my thinking usually in a situation like this would be I'll try to get a couple pictures like this, especially if I like the scar, but then I will probably just get a range of angles of her and worse case scenario, we'll put that scar in another picture that we've already shot in post 'cause the lights haven't changed or anything and we haven't changed our position. Ideally it'd be awesome to have another half an hour and get something great if this is the direction we end up going in but the more pieces you have to work with later the better off you'll be.
Okay, take a shot of that and see.
J Pop, everybody, yay! Alright, yeah, that's awesome. Hold it right there, that's great. (camera shudder)
Should I close the curtain? The left sides got a lot brighter 'cause the sun.
Sorry, say that again.
The left side got brighter 'cause the sun.
Okay, yeah, we're gonna close the curtain. Is that cool, Kenna?
Yep, yeah, that's fine.
Thank you. (camera shudder) Alright, cool. Alright, so give me a straight, square, up and down. Just like that, lean towards me just a little and then swivel your head a little. There we go, yeah, good, good, good, good. Hold that right there, that's good. Hold it right there, perfect. (camera shudder) Love it, that's great. (camera shudders) Chin up a little bit, right there. Lips apart a little bit. Lips apart even more like you're about to tell, there we go, that's good. Kinda give me a little more side mouth, kinda like, listen, here's the deal. There we go, good, good, good. Hold it right there. Swivel your head a little bit more this way, perfect. Actually, swivel your head back this way. Open up that side of your face a little more, there we go. Lips together. Um, let's see, bring this shoulder back a little bit. There we go and then lean towards me a little bit. Chin down and swivel. I do want your head to go that way but I wanna show the scar so let's come right about there. Hold it right there, that's good, that's good. Chin up a little bit, lips together. Chin up a little bit more. (camera shudders) Alright, I'm gonna just go through. I'm just gonna get a series of pictures of your head at different angles just to have for pieces. So we'll start kinda lookin' over here. Right there, okay. (camera shudders) Chin down a little bit, there we go. (camera shudders) Then back towards me a little bit more, right there, yeah. Turn back a little bit more, cool. So let's just try to get a couple more. Actually, let's go back up again real quick. Swivel your head this way a little bit. A little bit more, right there like that. Chin down right there. Drop your right shoulder just slightly, there we go. Just look straight ahead, there we go, just like that. (camera shudders) Eyebrows up a little bit. Lean towards me just slightly. Head out a little bit more then chin up slightly. Right there, then eyes right at me. Lips together, push your eyebrows up a little bit more. Perfect, just like that. Lips apart a little bit again. Even more like, "what?" There we go, perfect, good, good, good, good. Drop your left shoulder. Even more skeptical, kinda, or disgust, yeah, maybe. (camera shudders) Look over at John, there we go. Actually, yeah, right there. (camera shudders) That's perfect. And just eyes towards me. Here's real quick, this is what it looks like with just the key light. So this is just our key light, which it seems brighter too for some reason.
I think the pack misfired.
Oh, it did, okay let's do it one more time. Can I do it again? So, you can see that we've got like our, set the tone and we've created the shadows and everything, but it's obviously very, very dark. Turning this light on, it's just gonna fill in. It's not gonna create any new patterns. It's actually not as powerful as the key so it's coming in under but it's just gonna fill in and blend. This is fill only?
Okay, so this is fill only. This is what it would look like without the key. So you can see it's significantly under-power. You've seen, obviously, what they look like together. What's that? (camera shudder) Cool.
Connect to your photos
Don’t capture another picture that says nothing of your own style. Grow your confidence in creating or styling a portrait that pops and, more importantly, resonates. Recognize that you’re tired of feeling disconnected to your photography.
Tap into your artistic vision
Establishing your creative voice and finding the inspiration and support to stay with it are essential skills for a career in photography. Commit to mastering the technical elements so you can save time in production, focus on creating images with emotion, and start making the pictures that express your creative vision and ultimately resemble what you want to get paid to take.
Learn from the authority: John Keatley
John’s photos have filled the pages of Rolling Stone, Wired, and the New York Times Magazine. He’s covered celebrities from Anthony Hopkins to Macklemore, and even had the rare opportunity to photograph Annie Leibovitz. He’s also passionate about education and supporting artists to find their personal style.
In this one-of-a-kind class, John breaks down how to conceptualize, produce, style, light and fine tune your ideas. He leads you through the creation of an environmental portrait series, showing you how to make a vision come to life with any budget.
What you get out of this exclusive shoot:
- Find inspiration and execute your vision
- Research and create desired environments for set design or location scouting
- Cast for portrait and direct subjects on set
- Build a team of support around your project
- Lighting and styles to make the background and subject work together
- Creative ways to build your vision, regardless of budgetary limitations
What our students are saying:
“The amount of information John gives is mind blowing. To see the process from beginning to end, the road map to creativity...you cannot help but to be on the right road to success. He gives you steps to take and shows you how it's done.”
- Lorenzo Hill
Commit to your creativity
Are you ready to push the boundaries and find your unique voice? Get the hands-on tools to flex your creativity, collaborate for results, and carry out your vision.