Portrait Project

After watching a video online I decided it was time to start shooting for myself again. For too long everything I have shot has been of a commercial nature. If it wasn’t a paying job I wasn’t interested! It was getting so bad that even photographing my own kids felt like a chore. There is the old saying that lawyers have the worst legal affairs, well photographers often have the most under-photographed kids. I guess when you do something from 9-5 every day the last thing you want to so is that very same thing again on the weekend. Having made the decision to get out there and start shooting for myself I got to work looking for people to photograph as I had wanted this to be a portrait project. Other personal projects may come in time, but I have always enjoyed photographing people under controlled lighting so thought that this would be a good place to start, and hopefully recapture some mojo!


One of the things I don’t enjoy about a lot of portraiture currently is the complete lack of drama. So much of it these days seems to be shot using fairly flat lighting that does nothing to bring out the character in a persons face. Granted there are times where this may be the best way to shoot, but I hardly think that the vast majority need to be photographed this way, as seems to be the case! Also, there seems to be a move away from studio portraiture which I also think is quite sad. Quite a few people I’ve chatted to say that many photographers don’t even offer a studio option anymore. This is possibly due to the cost of hiring a studio space, but I think there are just more and more photographers who aren’t comfortable working with controlled lighting opting more the natural/available light options.


So! I wanted to shoot portraits, I wanted drama/mood in the shots, and I and a stream of people to call on so I got stuck in. The first person to sit for me was Richard Cousins. Richard was “nominated” by his son Ant who I had gone to Tech with many years back. I had asked for people with “character” and in Ant’s own words, “Old (oldish) tattooed, weather-beaten surfer!”. He had just the look I was going for one of my concepts. I set up the lighting to roughly how I wanted it so that I wouldn’t waste any time when he arrived. I rattled off several different poses and the below 2 are some of my favourites.



I really do like the above images, but there was something else I wanted to try. I wanted something similar to the above-left image but slightly pulled back with slightly less shadow on the left-hand side of his face. It ended up being the final image of the shoot and is probably my favourite. There is just something about the combination of the light, his expression and how his eyes are fixed straight on to the lens that I really enjoy! Here it is!




For those that want to know what equipment was used here is a rough list:

Fuji XT-1

Fuji 56mm f1.2

Broncolor Lights

Black Poly Board

PocketWizard triggers

ColorChecker Passport

Sekonic L-758 light meter


If there is anything else you would like to know in more detail please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment below.




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  • Antony Cousens31/07/2018 - 08:11

    Great shots. Love the last one. Glad he got in touch with you for this.ReplyCancel

  • Brian Spurr31/07/2018 - 08:11


  • Brian Spurr12/12/2014 - 15:17


  • Antony Cousens12/12/2014 - 12:07

    Great shots. Love the last one. Glad he got in touch with you for this.ReplyCancel

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