This diagram set was adapted from Steven Begleiter's book 50 Lighting Setups for Portrait Photographers, published by Amherst Media. You can read an excerpt from it in the MOC Learning Center.To learn more about Steven Begleiter's books, view his work, and read his blog, visit his website.
Assignment: This was an assignment for the magazine Inspire Your World. (Unfortunately the publication only lasted five issues and this was the last issue.) I was hired to photograph the artist, author, and art therapist Sandra Magsamen at her home just outside of Baltimore.Visual Objective:The publication was all about altruistic people so I wanted to capture a warm and spirited portrait of Sandra. When we arrived at her home, I scouted around for a location that would suit my subject. She had a great art studio where she worked, but I wanted to establish the opening shot for the article. I had seen this great chair that she created, and the porch outside her studio made for a great backdrop. Posing: I knew she would feel comfortable in her chair, so the pose would fit the chair. My only concern was working with her hands. Because she was an artist, I wanted her hands to show off well, so I simply told her to hug the back of the chair with her hands. The Story: Meeting Sandra was truly a rich experience. She is as big as the hearts she creates. When she told me she had hens on her farm I asked if we could use them for the shoot. The trick was to get the hens to do what I wanted—no easy task. Like all animals, food is a great incentive for hens, though. So I set up the shot, stood behind my camera, and directed Sandra while my assistant threw feed on the ground. It took many tries, but we finally got the shot. Tips: Normally I would be fussier about my subject's hair, but after meeting with Sandra, I knew she liked to have her bangs fall over her forehead. This is part of her personality, and I feel it is important to identify the unique physical qualities of your subject and allow them to become part of the portrait. Similarly, choosing the wardrobe of your subject is also very important. I selected the red shirt for Sandra because I knew the color red would stand out from the green background and complement the red hearts on the chair.