My photo portrait "unfolds like a clandestine glimpse through distant trees"

Portrait photography
(Image credit: Christian Mayberry / The Roktographer)

Christian Mayberry, also known as The Roktographer, is a master of portrait photography and is passionate about delving into human emotions through his photographic work. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing him about his work and analyzing his image "Scarlet Elegance". We discussed the techniques he used to capture the photo and why it works.. 

1. Foreground interest

For this image, Christian planned a strong visual strategy that included foreground elements in the image composition. “After exploring the surroundings, I found the perfect vantage point through the leaves. This creates a frame that invites the viewer to peek into a timeless moment,” he says. 

Christian worked with a maximum aperture of f/2 so he could shoot through the leaves and blend the blurred shapes into the shot, adding some colour and interest without dominating the main subject of the image. “With my assistant skilfully managing the light to the right, there was a harmonious collaboration. This resulted in the creation of a captivating image that weaved a narrative,” he explains.

2. Splash of colour

By choosing this color and style of clothing, Christian aimed to show the natural environment in a different context. “The choice of dress color ultimately depends on the mood and the aesthetics you want from the photo shoot but, here, it fits perfectly,” he says. The red dress stands out against the green background and draws the viewer’s attention towards the subject. “A red dress can add vibrancy and visual appeal to photoshoots,” Christian says. “The color red often conveys emotions such as passion and energy, making it a popular choice for creating striking and memorable images.”

3. Telling a story

For this shoot, Christian had a clear vision in mind, “I wanted to evoke the enchanting essence of a storybook, akin to a princess anticipating the arrival of her prince.” To achieve this, it was essential to create a narrative layer in this frame, so the location, styling, composition, and lighting were all key factors in building a fairytale atmosphere. 

“The scene unfolds like a clandestine glimpse through distant trees, capturing a suspended moment where time is standing still – a spellbinding preview into a world where someone is about to be whisked away to faraway lands.”

4. Skilful posing

Capturing the perfect shot of a model requires more than just photography skills. It’s about creating a comfortable and welcoming environment that allows the subject’s energy to shine through. “You have to forge a warm and professional connection with the model by initiating casual conversation before the shoot,” Christian explains. 

“You also have to display some authentic curiosity in their concepts and preferences, providing positive reinforcement throughout the session to instill confidence,” he adds. “Cultivating a relaxed and collaborative ambience not only helps ease the model but also coaxes their innate expressions out, resulting in a more authentic and compelling photo session.”

Tech details

best camera for astrophotography: Nikon D850

(Image credit: Future)

Camera: Nikon D850

Lens: Nikkor 200mm F2G ED VRII

Aperture: f/2

Shutter speed: 1/800 sec 

ISO: 64

Portrait photography
Christian Mayberry

Based in Orlando, Florida, Christian Mayberry is a professional music and portrait photographer who has become renowned for his evocative images.  With over 15 years of experience, Christian has established himself as a versatile photographer and his portfolio spans a wide range of genres, including fashion, portrait, commercial and concert photography. His work is characterized by his creativity, attention to detail and an ability to capture the essence of his subjects.

Others in the Why Shots Work series


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Digital Photographer

Digital Photographer is the ultimate monthly photography magazine for enthusiasts and pros in today’s digital marketplace.

Every issue readers are treated to interviews with leading expert photographers, cutting-edge imagery, practical shooting advice and the very latest high-end digital news and equipment reviews. The team includes seasoned journalists and passionate photographers such as the Editor Peter Fenech, who are well positioned to bring you authoritative reviews and tutorials on cameras, lenses, lighting, gimbals and more.

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