A Location Portrait

by William Lulow

On a recent trip to the Atlanta area, I had occasion to do some portraits of a high school friend, Paul Golden, who, among other things, has become quite an art collector. His main business is running a very successful commercial printing venture, which he has been doing for probably over 40 years now. (Wheeler-Benitas, Snellville, GA). When I went to his house, I was amazed at his library so I decided to make a portrait of him there. He showed me an old portrait that a friend did of him when he was much younger, so I decided to try to emulate the lighting. It was a dark, moody portrait of him smoking a cigarette with a wisp of smoke rising from his mouth. I didn’t want to make it quite as dark, but I did want to keep the same feel for the lighting, so I set up my portable speedlight in roughly a similar position.

Here is one of the lights I positioned to his right:

If you look back near the book shelves, you will see the light near the window. I also used a diffuser mounted on my camera. When I don’t have my umbrellas and larger power packs to work with, I use this contraption instead. It bounces the light from a white reflector, thus softening it and keeping it about one f/stop less than the other flash which is aimed directly at the subject.

Here we are looking at the results:

These days, I like to share a few of the images I’m getting with the client so that they can see what kinds of pictures we’re making.

And here is another shot of me working with Paul:

(Many thanks to Paul’s wife Ellen for taking these snaps).

And here is the result:

The bounced flash provided just enough light to make the features of Paul’s face visible. Without the second flash, the image would have looked like this:

There wasn’t quite enough light on Paul with just the accent light. Hence, the addition of the on-camera flash.

When I am on assignment, I usually bring my regular lights with power packs and umbrellas, but this was a shot I did while I was on vacation and didn’t have my regular lighting kit with me. But you’d be surprised to see the results you can obtain when you know how to use whatever lighting equipment you happen to have with you.