What fun we had today – trying to photographically interpret a Frida Kahlo poster that I had seen on the web. I found the poster after watching the movie, Frida, and then by doing a search on the web for the artist's life and work.
When I say "we," I mean my model, Gloriana "Glo" Gonzalez, who happens to be my friend Gonzalo's daughter, and my stylists/photo assistant, Susan Sammon, who happens to be my wife. :-)
The project was surely a team effort, so I only take 1/3 of the credit for the final photograph - which is one of my favorite studio portraits.
Here's a look at the evolution of "My Afternoon with Frida" photograph, which I made with my new Canon EOS 5Ds and Canon 100mm lens. The details (including the smallest eyelash) that the Canon 5Ds captures is astounding. Click here to read a previous post on the camera.
Here are the screen grabs of the Frida Kahlo posters that I found on the web. I did not want to copy the poster on the left exactly. Again, I used the poster as a suggestion. I wanted to do my own interpretation.
I don't have a studio, so I turned my office into a temporary studio. Setting up a home studio is the topic of my next KelbyOne class, which will be on-line later this year. For now, my most popular KelbyOne classes are listed on my Learn On-Line page.
Above is a shot I took of Glo before the official shoot. I asked her to pose so I could test the lighting before we got serious – if you can call having this much fun being serious. My lighting was two Westcott Spiderlites – which provide beautiful constant, even and soft light.
Earlier that day our team went to a Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft store and picked up the props (material background, flower headpiece and costume jewelry) we needed. Cost was $80 with Glo's student discount. Above is a shot that I took in our kitchen of Susan helping Glo get ready for the shoot. We had the poster of Frida printed out, as well as displayed on Glo's iPhone, so we could match, as closely as possible, the position of the props.
Here are two fun shots of Glo. Left: taken while I was testing the lighting. Quick tip: Test the lighting before an actual shoot. That will make your shoot go faster and smoother. Right: taken while I was joking around with Glo so that she would be relaxed for the shoot.
Glo has a inner and outer glow about her, but to enhance that glow and to soften her skin, I used Perfectly Clear, the number one plug-in I recommend for enhancing portraits. You can get a discount on Perfectly Clear on my Save On Plug-ins page.
Here's my photograph of Glo after applying Perfect Clear. For a realistic photo effect, I like the image. But I thought, after looking at the image for a day, I'd try a more artistic approach.
To add a painterly quality to the image, I applied the BuzSim filter in Topaz Simplify - another one of my favorite plug-ins. You can also get a discount on all Topaz plug-in on my Save On Plug-ins page.
Glo could not believe the first shot I took when I showed it to her. This behind-the-scenes photo by Susan captures her surprise. Added to her surprise: We (again it was a team effort) nailed it on the very first shot. I took six more photographs, but the first image was our favorite.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the poster and my photograph. Sure, they are different images, especially when it comes to the feeling and mood of the images. Frida suffered greatly with pain most of her life (from a terrible bus accident). I wanted a more uplifting image.
If you want to learn about lighting and portraiture, try this: find a photograph or painting that you like and try to recreate it . . . using your own style. Above are two of my photographs that illustrate this idea. Left: My interpretation of Rembrandt's Old Man in a Military Costume. Right: My interpretation of Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring. Both of these images were taken in my office.
Explore the light,
My 36th book: Creative Visualization for Photographers. The story of my Girl with Pear Earring photograph is in the book, as well as tons of tips and processing ideas for shooting indoors and out.
My 2016 photo workshops, where I encourage my workshop participants to visualize the end result, as we all did for "My Afternoon with Frida" photograph.