At heart I am a beauty photographer, especially when I photograph women. My interest in studio work started here, with influences of Don Giannatti and Bert Stern.
You can see this in my lighting and in my post processing.
Suzi and I had wanted to work together for some time, and could never quite get it together. This changed the other week. We had decided, both of us apparently suffering from a type of creative fatigue, to shoot some simple headshots. But when she walked into the studio I wasn’t sure how I was going to photograph her. She is petite with shoulder length, dramatic hair – orange and pink and red – shaved some on the sides, and a very pale, creamy, complexion. Even though I knew what she looked like from her portfolio, what crossed my mind – like most photographers I suppose (she concurred) – was to take things towards a trendy or edgy direction.
My usual lighting setup for headshots of women is, not coincidentally, a beauty setup, and so it was today (although I wanted to test a new modifier). I started to second guess myself. But, when I placed her on set, and when those first images started to appear on my laptop, I forgot all about edgy or trendy. This was going to be a beauty session.
Suzi had brought a variety of wigs with her (and apparently she has names for all of them to make selection easy), but it was her own hair that I was enamored with. The files coming out of camera were beautiful. And unlike anything else in my portfolio. They were dramatic, but in a soft way.
I have shot “alternative” models before, and at first glance this is how I would have classified her. And been dead wrong.
I had brought along some material (inspired by an image I had seen), so we used this simple prop to frame her face:
This gave a tone-on-tone feeling to the image, yet made her hair color and lipstick really pop. A beauty shot with personality. And depth.
Suzi, apparently, could project anything that she wanted to – pixie, sophisticate, sensuous, meek, you name it. What wonderful range.
We shot with the wigs, but in the end it was Suzi – with her own hair – that stole the show.