Photo Anatomy: revealing personality in celebrity portraits

Photo Anatomy: revealing personality in celebrity portraits

In our new Sunday series on Digital Camera World, we select pictures by famous photographers and explain point by point what makes them work.

In our latest instalment Robert Wilson tells us how he captured his penetrating portrait of actor Mark Rylance and how he aimed to reveal a different side to a well-known person.

Photo Anatomy: revealing personality in celebrity portraits

Keeping it simple
Robert photographed Mark Rylance at a rehearsal room near London’s Globe Theatre. Rylance was lit with three lights, and another was used to illuminate the grey Colorama background.

Shallow focus
Robert used a Hasselblad H2 body with a 150mm lens and a Phase One P65+ digital back. He chose an aperture of f/3.5 and set the focus point on Rylance’s expressive eyes.

Post production
“Many of my pictures are colour graded and have contrast added, although this one had very little post production,” Robert says. “Most of the work was adding the contrast.”

Post production
“Many of my pictures are colour graded and have contrast added, although this one had very little post production,” Robert says. “Most of the work was adding the contrast.”

Skin texture
This powerful image is rich in the minute details of Rylance’s skin texture, which have been brought out by the use of a high-quality 60-megapixel image sensor.

We say
“When you’re shooting a tight, close-up face shot, avoid using a standard or wide lens, because they can distort features, often making noses look big. A medium telephoto lens compresses perspective and generally produces a more flattering portrait.”
Chris Rutter, technique editor

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