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The Pianist

A simple, informal portrait of Kindera.

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |


As a musician, I wanted to use her baby grand as prop. With limited space to shoot, the trick was to make it a portrait of the pianist, and not of a piano with a pianist. The piano thus became a background element. Using perspective, with the subject close to camera, the baby grand fell nicely away and defocused – you know instantly what it is and what she does with it and yet it definitely is in its (subservient) place.

Equally important is her pose. The diagonal placement allows maximum use of that background while still lending import to her. She is very upright and long, highlighting her elegance. Yet the implied spontaneous over-the-shoulder capture lends an informal air that welcomes you into the scene. She has just turned to greet us, hasn’t she?

Two challenges did present themselves.

The first was the fact that I could not place lights in the limited space to shoot. As an environmental shot, in her home, I worked with 2 windows (camera right and behind). The first served as key, the second as a kicker you see in her hair and left (camera right) side of her body. A large reflector provided fill to camera left.

This is a rare occurrence: I almost always shoot with strobe, and , truth be told, would have preferred to here. But you have to play the hand you are dealt.

The second was the highly reflective nature of that piano. It is basically a mirror, and the window to camera right and behind cast a very distracting reflection. There was nothing I could do in camera about it so it had to be handled in post production.

Portraits taken at home have a special appeal to me. There is context , comfort, and a sense of belonging that seems missing when created elsewhere. Consider having your portrait created where you call “home.”

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