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Sunday, May 17, 2015


One of the perks of being an artist is hanging out with other artists. I was lucky to meet artists Troy and Coila Evans not long after moving to Billings at an Art Walk event. I went to a show featuring the work of two local photographers, and Troy’s work was there also. My wife immediately loved his work, and meanwhile I noticed Troy was the only person in the room with a beer. So I inquired about the beer and he offered me one out of his personal stash. We’ve been friends ever since! But I’m also a big fan of Troy’s work (my wife has great taste) and it is an honor to photograph it from time to time. Here are two of my favorite pieces that I photographed from Troy’s recent solo show at Catherine Louisa Gallery. The portrait of Troy was taken after the Art Walk a week after his opening. Several photographers and a few other artists were having a little after party at my studio and of course we couldn’t help but turn on the strobes and have some fun.  See and purchase Troy’s work here: http://blockhorsedesigns.com

Tips for photographers: This portrait is something that happened on the spur of the moment but was about a month in the making.  A month before this portrait happened, my friend and mentor Ken Jarecke turned me on to the portrait work of Marco Grob.  I was impressed with Grob and studied his work for weeks, trying to decipher his lighting techniques.  I watched as much BTS material as I could find, and enlisted the help of my good friend and lighting expert Zak Jokela.  When it was time for the Art Walk to come around I knew there was a good chance we’d have a crowd of notable subjects in the studio afterwards for a night cap.  So right at the start of Art Walk I met Zak at the studio and set up the basics of the lighting and tested a few shots.  We didn’t want to miss the parties, so we left in a hurry, hoping we might have subjects later.  Our plan paid off, and after an evening of wining and dining in art galleries, we had a late night crew assembled in the studio.  Zak and I tinkered with a few other photographers posing for us and quickly honed in the lighting technique we wanted to run with.  After that we just played around all night while everyone was having a good time.  I am so thankful to have friends like Zak, Troy, and others that love to experiment and push each other to new heights.  Meeting and hanging with these other artists is one of the highlights of my life as a photographer.

This portrait is lit with one light, a large 4 foot silver bounce umbrella camera right for a dramatic side lighting effect. See the catchlight in the eye and shadow under the nose for an idea of the angle and placement. The highlight on Troy’s right side was created by a large 8 foot silver reflector behind and camera left from Troy.  Further shadows were introduced by Zak holding a flag (anything that blocks the light, also known as a gobo, or “go between”) close to the left side of Troy’s face so that his ear and shadow are shaded from the main light. This flag is the key touch that we learned from Marco Grob and it has opened my eyes to new world of flagging for dramatic effect.  Thanks to Zak for helping me figure it out!

I love portrait photography and have a passion for portraiture that you won’t find anywhere else in Billings Montana.  Please visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com for booking.

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