Photographer: Andrew Kung/Andrew Kung Group
Assist/BTS: Rachel Lutz/Andrew Kung Group
Category: Male Portrait Photoshoot Case Study
This was a shoot that was meant to be captured in a fashion that would yield images that were classic and ageless. We also wanted to produce images that had detailed textures and soft shadow qualities. With highly detailed textures showing, we felt that hard shadows would be pushing it too far and would result in an image that would be distracting; although we do that on occassion, it would not be suitable for this shoot and the timeless art direction we were tasked with.
For this shoot, we used an 8×10 Oliphant hand-painted canvas backdrop, a distressed wooden floor and a neutral matte gray chair alongside our model. We felt that all of these elements would contribute well to the timeless look and feel to create images that would last for many years.
We placed our key light on camera left at almost a 90 degree angle from the camera, pointing towards the right side of our model. To soften the shadows on the left side of the model, we used a large and soft light source placed right next to the camera, pointing directly at the model. For the various images you will see below, we moved our key light’s position and height slightly to obtain some variation in the images. Sometimes it was placed more even with the subject in terms of height and sometimes we placed our key light high above the subject’s head. Similarly, we moved the position of the light so it would be behind, aligned with and slightly in front of the subject to create different shadows across his face.
For posing, we wanted to keep things more casual and less formal and we focused on bringing out his personality, capturing plenty of candid shots. We did both standing and sitting poses but we typically prefer more sitting shots for this style of lighting. For more ideas on posing, feel free to download a copy of our posing guide here.
PHOTOGRAPHY CHEAT SHEET
2 LIGHT SETUP
How To Setup Lighting For Male Portrait Photography
For this shoot, I used two Profoto Heads and two Photek Softlighter II umbrellas with front diffusers. These umbrellas with front diffusers are what we typically call ‘brolly boxes’, short for umbrella softboxes. We used a smaller umbrella for our key/main light on camera left and a larger one for more softness for the front fill light.
Things to watch out for:
1) For this look, you want to make sure you aren’t creating hard shadows, which is why we went with brolly boxes in an effort to diffuse the light twice.
2) Your front fill light should be be at least 1 or 2 stops below your key light; if not you’ll end up with a flat image without enough highlight and shadow differentiation. We also went with a larger size to soften the shadows even more.
BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO
BUDGET FRIENDLY EQUIPMENT (Alternatives)
(ITEMS ARE LINKED BELOW)
LOWER PRICE RANGE
MEDIUM PRICE RANGE
– ELINCHROM 27″ SOFTLITE WHITE BEAUTY DISH (ELINCHROM MOUNT) (For Elinchrom Monolights)
PRESETS & ACTIONS
VS BLOOM PRESET PACK
This LR/PS preset collection produces lighter, brighter images with bold color and sharp details. Many of the Bloom presets increase vibrance and decrease contrast while maintaining shadows and flattering skin tones.
FOUNDER, INSTRUCTOR, NINJA
Andrew has over 15 years of experience in the field and has served on set as the Director of Photography and Principal Stills Photographer for various commercial and advertising campaigns for companies such as Valvoline, Tempur-Pedic, Humana, Churchill Downs and General Electric Appliances.
When he’s not craving sushi (or talking about it), Andrew is an instructor, ninja, and founder of Visionspire. He loves traveling out West, particularly in Sedona and San Diego, sharing cute animal videos, and experimenting with cocktails like he’s the personal mixologist for Bill Murray (his words, not ours).