Guest Blogger: John D. Williamson

Here’s a cool guest post from my friend John D. Williamson. Take it away, John!

I never imagined that I would be asked to be a guest blogger for Rick Sammon! Thank you, Rick It’s an honor.

The top image you see here will always hold a special place with me; it was the cover for the 2009 Photo Basics catalog. When I first sat down with the Vice President and Art Director for Westcott, they already knew they wanted an edgy image that had a fashion feel to it. After some discussion we decided on the background, wardrobe and model.

I used the Westcott Strobelite PLUS mono-block with a 7’ Octabank. I positioned the light high above and in front of the model, just off to her right. This provided a very soft wrap around light that had a nice fall off from the top of the image to the bottom. It also added a nice texture to the jacket. I then added a second Strobelite Plus with an optical white umbrella (which I shot through) located just behind me, for a touch of fill. Then, after just a wee bit a post, it was finished.

With the power of the Strobelite units, I was able to have Aubrey, our model, move as she wished. Instead of posing her in the traditional portraiture method… "Now tilt your head, just a little bit more…there. Now take your index finger and move it out just a faction…" I was able to capture a much more natural position as she moved freely, with little direction from me.

The background was a scenic rental from The shoot was in my studio, but I wanted the “grungy” feel of bricks in an ally. It all came together to capture an image that was exactly what they wanted.

This bottom image is actually my wife’s cousin, Marie, from Germany. She had come to the States to stay with my wife’s family for a few weeks. She mentioned that she had always wanted to model but didn’t know how to get started. The next day we went to my studio, and four hours later she had the beginnings of a portfolio.

Of the dozen or so images we created, this is my favorite. I often shoot with just a single light source, preferring the look and style of low key images. I used a single Strobelite Plus unit with a Westcott 24”x32” Softbox positioned just out of the frame to the cameras right. I opted not to use a rim light or a fill light to allow her hair to fall off into shadow.

With the versatility of the Stroblite I was able to dial the power down far enough to shoot at f4, and still have the box just 2 feet from Marie. Both of which allowed me to get the softness I wanted.