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Beauty as a Portrait Style

I recently shot an image for an assignment on a project I am working on to these guidelines:

A very clean portrait shot on a flat field background (wall, seamless, cyc, material, cloth, canvas…) Tightly focused and stylistically within your style. This image should be created to show how you handle strong personalities in front of your lens.

There should be special attention placed on the expressiveness of the portrait: Sadness, pain, angst, joy, humor, intensity… ENGAGED. We want to see more than a smile, more than a beauty shot. This is a glimpse into the soul of the subject.

(Lighting Essentials Project 52)

I’m not sure I succeeded.

Well, except for the style part – I feel that this is definitely where I am at now in terms of portraiture. And I also feel that the portrait – one I feel is definitely unconventional – does reflect her and meets the criteria for being engaging and “soul peering.”

The subject is young – 18, a freshman in college – and I wanted to reflect that innocence, vigor, and yes, the beauty, of that age. I wanted it light and in B&W – a romantic simplification yet an accurate one I think. She has plenty of time to let the cynicism of experience creep in. She’s not there yet.

In talking to her and trying to get a feel for who she is, I feel that this is a fairly accurate representation of her as a person – as much as a single image can do.

You may consider this as simply a “beauty” shot – that interpretation is certainly up to you.

What I tried to do was to remove everything that would distract from her face and particularly her eyes. That is another reason it is in B&W. The cliche is that the eyes are the window to the soul – if that is the case then I certainly wanted them to be the focal point of the image.

This was not shot with what I consider “beauty lighting.” There is a large octa camera left, and it is a little lower than I would normally place it. I also used negative fill to enhance the shadow side of her face and to bring out some more of her bone structure. Had this been a typical beauty shot I would have made the lighting much flatter.

I used a fan to create movement in her hair. This is something that you would typically do in fashion photography, but I wanted something to symbolize energy and vitality in a portrait situation.

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