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Thursday, March 31, 2016


Ryan is the unofficial future mayor of downtown Billings so of course he needs a badass portrait for the Time cover story they’ll eventually run on him! Well maybe not, but he still needs an awesome portrait fit for a magazine editorial. Thankfully he knows a guy! Thanks for the sitting Ryan!

People are asking me about these editorial portraits, and they’re asking if people in Billings Montana really want or need a portrait that looks like something out of Vanity Fair. Why wouldn’t they?! Who wouldn’t want a portrait like these? If you’re going to have a portrait made, why not strive to match the best talent in the world, right here in Billings? I think we can do it. I’m putting in the time and honing my skills and so are my teammates, like Sydney Ross, a top level hair and makeup artist that’s as good as anyone you’ll find New York or LA. Together my team and I are out to prove that badass, modern and stylish portraits aren’t only reserved for people that live in the major markets, you can get them right here in downtown Billings Montana. For bookings please visit our new headshot and portrait website here: www.pbheadshots.com.

Tips for photographers: These portraits are inspired by all of the studying I’ve been doing thanks to my mentor, legendary photojournalist Kenneth Jarecke (who is on instagram now as @kenneth.jarecke). The three influences that inspired these portraits are Marco Grob first and foremost with the flagging and key light technique used, and Dan Winters and Gregory Heisler with the use of on axis fill light from a ring light, or something similar. For the headshot, the key light is a large silver bounce umbrella only about two feet away from Ryan’s head to the camera right. This key light is flagged with black foam core to create the shadow on Ryan’s left ear (camera right). Flagging the key light side of the face is a very cool technique that I learned from studying Marco Grob and Dan Winters and for me, it opens up broad lighting patterns where I’d otherwise prefer short lighting if it weren’t for the flag. The on axis fill is a silver beauty dish about a foot higher than the camera and you can see the central catchlight in the eye. For more drama I set the fill light pretty low, two or three stops less power than the key light. I don’t use a light meter (although I just got one). I eyeball my histogram and test each light individually. Behind Ryan camera left there is an 8 foot silver reflector for a subtle kicker light on the right side of his face (camera left). Behind Ryan and camera right is a strip box and 8 foot silver reflector to replicate a similar amount of kicker light on the left side of his face (camera right).

The full body portrait is inspired by Annie Leibovitz, both in the lighting and in the use of my hand painted background and floor.  Annie often uses big soft lights, such as the Photek Softlighter. In this case I simply added a white diffusion sock over my large silver umbrella. I still used a big piece of black foam core to flag the key light, but I opened up the angle a bit so it’s not as side on as in the headshot. The shadow from the flag is not as prominent because the light is so soft, but the main thing I like about using the flag in this way is that it keeps the catchlight from spilling out of the pupil and into the white of the eye, which is a common problem when side lighting in the way that Annie and these other guys do (Mark Seliger for instance). Out of frame camera left is a wall of black foam core to eat up the key light and keep the shadows dark. Lastly, the same silver beauty dish about a foot above camera the camera for the on axis fill I’ve been loving so much thanks to Greg Heisler and Dan Winters.

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