Today I have something for the ladies, my wife in particular, since these photos were kind of a late birthday present for her. Not for the faint of heart, you have been warned.

Avert your eyes, save yourself, the shirt has come off (cue music, you know which song…oh yeah). So, these are self portraits of yours truly, in a style that’s both similar and different to what I usually do. I’ve certainly done moody and dramatic light before but not quite in the same context as this. I wanted to give my wife something to look at when I’m not around, so the choice to ditch the clothes was a natural one, as was the choice to go for a single (almost, more on that in a minute) light to create shadows, both in order to emphasize shape and to hide my face. The reason for hiding my face isn’t that I’m ashamed or embarrassed – quite the opposite actually, I’m rather proud of these photos – no, the reason was simply that I thought it would detract from the theme, which of course is the shape of the body, and that’s where I want all the focus to be. If you put a face in a photo, any photo, that will be a natural focal point for the viewer and it will steal a lot of attention.

Speaking of the shape of the body: it’s probably around ten years since I last worked out so I really needed the light to bring out as much shape as possible. Luckily I used to work out a lot before that and some of that basic physique still haven’t left me, one of the reasons probably being that I don’t gain weight no matter how much I eat (I know you’re jealous). So how to bring out shape? Easy enough, just place the light to the side and we’ll get plenty of shadows. I did just that, placed a LP160 in softbox to camera left, and I liked the results. However, you should always be willing to experiment a bit so I placed a bare YN560 directly on the floor at my feet, aimed up. This light ran on very low power and the effect is pretty subtle but what it does is to almost act as a rim light, it’s just coming from the front instead of the back. It also adds a tiny bit of fill. This light is present in both of the shots displayed in this post, just look for the effect and you’ll find it (check the end of the post for an example without the added light). Another tip to bring out the shape better is to flex your muscles while you take the picture – cheap trick, but it works.

Self portraitThe most difficult part of this shoot wasn’t to take of the clothes and get in front of the camera (the wife was out and the little one was sleeping), it was to have to run back and forth to check the results between shots. When you’re standing close to a light source like this, small changes in direction and distance can have a dramatic impact on the final result. Twist your body a bit and you can completely change the mood. Had I been able to stay behind the camera, I could have directed the subject to make small shifts in order to explore different possibilities. Instead I had to take a shot, go and check the result, try to remember where I stood and make changes accordingly, all the while trying to not mess up the framing by moving too far.

What else could have made the photos better? Well, obviously I should work out more and I should probably shave and get a haircut as well. You might also have noticed that my tan isn’t exactly the most even you’ve seen in your lifetime. Other than that though, I really don’t have much to complain about. Sure, being able to stay behind the camera would have given me a lot more control and flexibility but I’m still genuinely happy with the results. More importantly, the Mrs. liked them as well.

There you have it, now all I have to do is wait for the model agencies to call. Or maybe that wouldn’t be the most prudent career path.


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