Rifqi's photo

My photographic journey

I got a bit inspired after my previous success of shooting my grandmother so I decided to do a similarly simple photo shoot with my wife.

Unlike the shot with my grandmother I wanted to play more with shadows and the direction of the light this time – it’s no fun if all your photos start looking the same. These shots are really simple, just a single LP160 in shoot through umbrella, I’ll let you work out the location of the light for yourselves, it doesn’t exactly strain the brain cells to do so – and if it does then it’s probably way overdue that the poor things got some exercise.

My favourite is the one to the left and it was the first idea I had in mind going into this shoot. I must say that I really like this kind of light, it’s so much more evocative than the standard well lit portrait, it seems to be telling a story that will vary depending on who the viewer is. The way the shadows are playing both across her face and in the folds of the fabric appeals to me a lot.  The fact that my subject is lovely doesn’t hurt either (thanks for putting up with your trigger happy husband).

PortraitFor post processing I enhanced the shadows a bit to bring out the mood I was looking for; the light was already there, it was just a matter of some small tweaks here and there. A long time I was also torn between using this edit or turn it black and white like the shot to the left here. In the end I decided to keep the colour version because I really like how all the brown tones (her skin colour and the hijab) work together and almost becomes golden when the light is just right. I’m also a big fan of desaturated colours.

The simplicity of these shots is a big part of their success (or at least a certain measure of success, in my opinion, you might disagree) and I’m going to continue exploring this one light approach now that I’ve gotten an appetite for it. Not to worry though, I’ll still do funky stuff with more lights when the situation calls for it, I’ve already got some things in mind that requires more lights than I even have at the moment.

To change the subject a bit: one thing I’ve noticed when shooting portraits, even of my wife, is that I’m absolutely terrible at giving my subject directions. If I do manage to get a good pose or expression it’s usually just luck or because my subject is trying to do at least something with my misguided instructions. Usually I tell them to just stand there and look in some direction. The second shot in this post was taken when my wife was resting against the wall while I was fiddling around and I just told her to look at me. The first shot was of the “stand here, look there” variety. I’ll probably never be a professional portrait photographer.

Back on track: there’s something to be said about photography when a single light can produce so many different looks and evoke such different feelings just by altering the angle, intensity and shape of if – there’s still a lifetime of learning waiting. I hope you enjoyed today’s photos, happy shooting until next time.

Update: This photo has been featured on Photo Critic so go check it out.


Portrait Portrait Portrait


15 Responses to “A simple approach”

  1. EvilPoet

    Really nice shots! Personally, I like the first one the most out of all three. It is introspective without being closed off. As far as lighting overall – there is a warmth and realness to all of them that I think is missing sometimes in a standard portrait.

    • Rifqi

      Thanks, really happy you like them. I agree that the normal and safe light used in a standard portrait can be a bit flat, I like seeing something new and different. Thanks again.

  2. Joshua

    These are beautiful portraits. I like the softness of the first – makes me want to experiment with my strobes more.

    • Rifqi

      Thanks, glad you like them. It’s definitely a good idea to experiment, it’s the best way to learn.

  3. Gracie

    Beautiful portraits…love the mood that the lighting created on the first image. I think I will try portraits too…as soon as I have one willing subject. haha!

  4. Eriko Tsogo

    great photos, the mood reminds me a bit of Irving Penn and Cecil Beaton

    • Rifqi

      Thanks, I checked them out and I must say it’s very flattering to be even remotely compared to photographers of that caliber, mabe some day I’ll be good enough to actually deserve it.


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