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Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Introducing the badass headshot. This is a headshot that is reserved for bosses. It conveys only one clear and simple message: I am a badass.  It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, everybody wants to hire a badass. Available in Billings Montana only at Paul Bellinger Photography. www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

This portrait has been a labor of love and it turned out badass if I may say so myself. Zak and I put about two months into learning this lighting technique and we fine-tuned it in the studio over six sessions. Thanks to Kenneth Jarrecke for challenging us to master this light. Thanks to all of the people that posed during test sessions, we will drop those portraits here on the blog as they are ready. Thanks to Zak for putting in hours and expertise on this. We’re going to keep pushing and raising the bar for portraits and headshots in Billings Montana.

Tips for photographers:

This photo was inspired by the portraiture of Marco Grob, after Kenneth Jarrecke showed me some of Grob’s work on twitter and sort of challenged me to light like Grob. Specifically this photo is inspired by a portrait that Grob made of Robert Downey Jr., because a lot of people say Zak looks like him. After a lot of hours studying Grob’s work, what we learned was more than just a lighting setup, it is a framework for working with the light that can be versatile. The idea is to add shadows to the highlight side of a Rembrandt, closed loop lighting pattern. Using a black piece of foam core as a flag, we put a shadow on the highlight side of the face, camera right in this case. You can also add a flag above to put a shadow across the forehead as well, something I wish we had done. It sounds very simple, one light, one or two flags to add shadows, and you can add kicker lights on the back side as we’ve done here too. But the trickiness comes in with the main light and the flag, and how close and at what angle to use the flag to add shadow right where you want it. The further the flag is from the light, the harder the shadow will be. You can also change the shadows by moving the main closer or farther from the subject. We prefer bringing the main light very close so that there is a dramatic falloff on the shadow side the highlights are very soft from the close light. For this photo we used a large, 7x1 foot strip box about two feet from Zak’s face. We used a pair of beauty dishes behind and on each side of the subject at 45 degree angles to create the edge lighting (also called rim lighting or backlighting). But the portrait looks cool without those extra lights and you can use reflectors instead of beauty dishes for a more subtle edge (click here to see a portrait without kicker lights, also inspired by Grob). Once you understand the basic framework it’s easy to experiment from there and adjust for the specific subject in front of you.

Monday, June 29, 2015


This is one of my favorite portraits of my wife and myself! I am such a lucky man, Nini is definitely my better half. I am also lucky to have so many great photos of my wife and I, and many of them are printed so that we will always have them. This is one that we are definitely going to print. It was taken at the Comedy BeCause event put on by the Center for Children and Families. I set up a portrait studio on location at the VIP party before the comedy show, and made portraits of the distinguished guests. Trevan Hiersche assisted me for the day and made one for us after the event was over. Thanks for all of your help, and mostly, for this photo Trevan!

This was a really cool event and making portraits on location was a fun way to give back to the VIP guests who helped make the show possible. I don’t think most people were used to seeing an actual portrait studio on location and the portraits turned out amazing. I’ve been doing this kind of VIP portrait studio on location a few times recently and it has really been a big hit with guests.

Tips for photographers:
This photo is lit with two large softboxes stacked on top of each other to the camera left and in front of the beautiful couple about 5 or 6 feet. There is a large 4x8 foot reflector camera right, also about 5 or 6 feet in front of the lovely couple that is isn’t really doing much in this photo. It is giving a very small amount of fill light on the shadow side of the faces. I’ve used this lighting technique before, click here for more information. On a non-lighting note, it was really crazy shooting a bunch of portraits on location at an on going event. This was not my first time doing this kind of studio on location, but it was the most busy and tightly packed event that I’ve done it at. Time and space were very limited. I had to keep it small and simple and having Trevan assisting me helped a lot too. I highly recommend trying this at some smaller events before attempting it at a big event. We pulled it off because we had a good team with my wife Nini helping out too, but it was not easy.

Billings Montana portrait photographer Paul Bellinger specializes in modern, stylish portraits classic tradition of the great masters of portrait photography. Please visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com to schedule your sitting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Laddoo is one of my favorite people in India. He is a barber that has been cutting my wife’s family’s hair for three generations now. I met him during my first trip to India and have seen him on every visit since. He always comes over to the house and gives me a fresh cut, shave and massage. It is traditional for barbers in India give really great head and shoulder massages after cutting your hair. Laddoo even cracks my neck as part of the massage, which is kind of scary, but it has always made my sore neck feel better. On our latest trip to India I asked Laddoo to pose for a portrait since he is a very important person to me in my wife’s hometown of Hazaribagh. I also made a surprise visit to see his barber shop and made a portrait of him and his brothers in their space. Of course Laddoo being so generous, he had to give me another trim and massage (I think there is some footage on instagram if you follow @pjbellinger). Before leaving Hazaribagh I had several prints made of all the different people I made portraits of, and I delivered them to each one in person. There is something special about giving and receiving prints. Prints create a connection that is missing when you only deliver electronic files. In this case it was a nice way to say thank you and farewell until next time.

Tips for photographers:
These are the photos that make all of the hard work worth it. They are special photos that can happen in the blink of an eye if you are on your game. For the portrait of Laddoo by himself, he posed for less than two minutes before he was on his way. I scoped out the white wall on previous days and knew it would be lit up nicely in the afternoon sunlight. I put Laddoo in direct sunlight coming from camera left. Since half of his face is in shadows, we call this split lighting, which I really like because of the contrast. The whole front of the house and driveway were lit up with sunlight in front of Laddoo to create nice catchlights in his eyes. The portrait of Laddoo and his brothers was created during a bright sunny day with a single speedlight held by my little sister in the back of the shop to create rim light, or backlight on the subjects. Because the speedlight is all the way in the back of the room it has the effect of lighting the whole room. It’s a lighting technique that is somewhat overused but is a fast and convenient way to add a bit of drama to an otherwise natural light environmental portrait.

I am portrait photographer Paul Bellinger, and I have an unmatched passion for the art of portraiture. I have put many years into the study of everything about portraiture, from the timeless classics by the great masters of generations past, to the leading portrait artists of today. My hard work and dedication has paid off and my portraits are increasingly being sought after for magazine covers and editorial features, and I have on set experience with large-scale fashion, celebrity and sports photo shoots. I specialize in dramatic studio portraits of individuals from headshots and professional business portraits, to fashion and glamour.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Kalli and Bridger’s big day is only one week away and I’m excited to start celebrating with them this week as the bridal party arrives for bachelor and bachelorette parties, a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, the wedding, the day after brunch, and finally a honeymoon session at Disney World! It’s going to be a busy week of celebration and I can’t wait to photograph all of it!

Before things get too hectic I want to share a few photos from our cliff side adventure in Maui Hawaii. Kalli and Bridger are Montanans, so they had no problem getting up before sunrise, driving 30 minutes North to the rocky coast and hiking to this location that I had pre-scouted a few days before. The rocky shore is really beautiful with waves crashing everywhere and crazy cliffs. This place is known as “the blowhole,” named after a hole in the rocks that shoots water into the sky when waves crash below. But we were there to see the beautiful seascape at sunrise and waves crashing behind a heart shaped hole in the rock. Mother nature rewarded our hard work and we have these amazing photos to remember the even more amazing experience we had. We got lost hiking back to the Jeep but that’s another story!  See more of our Maui adventures by clicking here.

I specialize in making heirloom quality wedding artwork that is as unique as your love story. I am based in Billings Montana, but I am available for romantic adventures worldwide, including engagement sessions, weddings, and honeymoon sessions. From the beaches to the mountains, it would be my honor to photograph your wedding in any destination. www.paulbellinger.com