New Portrait Lighting Tricks | Northern Virginia Portrait Photographer

May 30, 2017  •  Leave a Comment


Invention is rare in portraiture.  As photographers, we're constantly observing and incorporating "new" ideas--perhaps handed down for ages!--into our own approach.  That's why I find it so interesting and fun to watch how other experienced photographers "see" and work. 

For me, the month of May was full of teaching and learning.  In addition to teaching two portraiture workshops as part of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) "Super 1 Day" program, I also attended a Super 1 Day workshop in Maryland taught by the Turner brothers.  Half of their class was in the studio; half was outdoors.  Both halves were worthwhile.  

In this post, I want to share two portraits I captured during their workshop, one in studio and one outdoors, and discuss the techniques I found "new" and interesting.    

I cannot take full credit for these portraits.  While I worked with the model to elicit the poses and expressions that I wanted, the lighting set-ups for each portrait were done by the Turners to illustrate the lighting techniques they favor.  So what you see is partly my skill and partly theirs.  

Portrait of a Dapper DJ by Northern Virginia Wedding and Portrait Photographer Roger Hammons

I love this portrait of our model Sam, who works as one of the Dapper DJs.  The lighting concept is bolder than I usually employ in my own portraits, but it suits the outsized personality of this model and his occupation perfectly!  In particular, I love the dramatic accent lighting on Sam's right side and the elegant blue spotlight behind him.  I definitely plan to borrow this idea in my future work.  

Sam is quick to offer fun, uninhibited expressions.  But, in my portrait of him, I wanted something a little bit quieter, with a more GQ-type of dapperness.  Working with Sam, I was able to achieve this pose and expression, which I think works well with the studio lighting to achieve my concept.  And Sam's quirky smile, with a hint of mischief, is the perfect finishing touch.    


Northern Virginia portrait photographer Roger Hammons shares a portrait of a Dapper DJ taken during a portrait photography workshop sponsored by the Professional Photographers of America's Super 1 Day program.

My outdoor portrait of Sam uses existing natural light to illuminate his face.  This is one of my favorite ways of working, either using the natural light only or adding a touch of off-camera strobe for extra effect.  Here, the Turners have set up a strobe behind the model, which spotlights his shoulders, underneath the hat, and some of the bushes behind him.  It is an interesting look, implying a sun low in the sky.  

For the pose, I brought up Sam's hand as a gentle fist supporting his head.  His thoughtful look completes an inviting portrait. 


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If you'd like a business or family portrait that's uniquely you, call 703-729-3780 or email the studio to discuss your ideas with me.  

My Northern Virginia wedding and portrait studio is conveniently located in Ashburn, Virginia, between Dulles International Airport and Leesburg, just north of the Brambleton shopping center.  

I accept commissions throughout the greater Washington DC metropolitan area.  Call me today!


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