In our Photo Anatomy series on Digital Camera World we select pictures by famous photographers and explain point by point what makes them work.
In our latest instalment we speak to Russian fashion and portrait photographer Olga Lavrenkova, who explains how classic Hollywood studio lighting techniques inspired one of her most striking portraits.
“I chose my friend Alla as the model,” Olga says, “because she isn’t shy, can show any emotions and looks like a 1940s film star. She was perfect for this particular assignment.”
To shoot this image, Olga used her main camera at the time, a Canon EOS 10D, with a 50mm f/1.4 lens attached. She used an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/11, ISO100.
The final combination of pose, expression and accessories occurred spontaneously. “It’s like a puzzle,” Olga says. “First you find one thing, then come all the others, and after many tries you say, ‘that’s it!’”
The single light directly illuminated the model’s face and created very harsh shadows. It also picked out the curling line of white smoke coming from her cigarette.
The model was lit by a Bowens 500 head, with an opened reflector covered by semi-transparent matte white paper. A simple piece of dark cloth was used as the background.
“Planning is vital in this kind of portrait; you have to know what you want to achieve before the shoot. If you want to use classic ‘movie studio’ lighting, look at lots of images from Hollywood’s Golden Age (1930s-50s) and use their poses and techniques as your inspiration.”
Chris Rutter, technique editor
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