As some of you may already know, I like to do portraits of my friends. Well a couple of weeks ago my longtime friend from Germany, Alex, came to visit for a few days (he and I met back when I moved to Germany in second grade). Anyway -- while he was here I did some pretty simple and straightforward portraits with a single light and soft box. My goal was to keep them really straightforward, classic and traditional looking. Check em out -- I was pretty happy with what I got in the few minutes we spent shooting.
This is exactly what I was looking to get to start out with and was able to catch it within the first few shots I took. As soon as I saw it I knew I had what I wanted.
It seemed kinda foolish to just stop there -- so I shot some more for fun:
This was taken a split second after that last one:
Right here I think he can pass for James Hetfield from Metallica:
If anybody cares to see kind of a cool portrait I did of him on his sweet 1932 Arial bike while visiting him a couple of years ago then click here.
Anyway -- I was just telling a friend the other day about the importance of getting really comfortable with just one light. Learning the basics of lighting with it before you complicate things too much by trying to add in too many lights for an effect or look that may not be needed. I thought these portraits were a pretty good example of how nice just one light can look when it comes to portrait work.
It is a matter of personal preference -- but I do believe that when working with people your time is better spent interacting with them and catching as many expressions as you can rather than having them sit and wait while you geek out and adjust the six or eight different lights you have lighting them. If you do happen to do really intricate lighting then have it ready to go and metered out before your client is even on set. I would rather see a portrait where the subject is really engaged in the shoot then one where they look annoyed over you wasting their time by fumbling around with a bunch of lights. That's just my two cents though.
KISS = Keep it simple stupid. Just don't mistake 'simple' for easy though -- because sometime it's not.