New York

[Findling’s Friends: Johnel Clemente]

September 21, 2012

Introducing *drumroll* our very first contributor/guest blogger! After meeting through our master’s program, I found a great friend and creative match-up. From here on out you can expect some sometimes posts from a truly talented photographer.

courtesy Johnel Clemente

Author of Jongpinionated tumblr & photographer extraordinaire – Johnel is both a great friend and soon to be frequent guest blogger. He has shot everything from celebrities to fashion editorials. If you haven’t already seen his photos glossing the pages of Maxim Phillipines or Inked Magazine be sure to keep an eye out on his blog for the scoop on how he got “the shot”. Tumble with him or better yet check out his work. // @el_jong

Guest Blog: Johnel Clemente

I am a lazy shooter. I try to do shoots with the least amount of equipment, but for my first post on, I wanted to at least share my favorite head shot lighting setup to set a good tone.

There are a lot of head shot, beauty and portrait lighting setup. One of the most popular is the clamshell technique where there is a main light from above and another light coming from below (sometimes the main light is bounced back by a reflector) illuminating the subjects face in a flattering manner. My setup is a variation of that using the ring light.

The ring light is typically used to light face evenly from the front because the strobe is circular shaped usually surrounding the lens. Instead of using the ring light dead-on, I use it a bit high and angled — a touch of Rembrandt lighting (we’ll discuss in future posts) — and a bit of clam shell still without having to use the light source coming from the bottom.

The reason for this is that I still want a bit of shadow on the some parts of the face, some on the cheeks and the side of the nose to emphasize good bone structure but reduce shadows under the eyes and neck that might be less flattering.

Let’s take this actor head shot for Tanis. She needed something clean and pleasant. In order to achieve that, you want to show the best version of your subject’s face while keeping in mind you want to make it as natural as possible.

courtesy Johnel Clemente

Since I don’t have a backdrop I used two more strobes to wash the wall white. It also served as a bit of hair light since the light will bounce from the wall to the back of Tanis’ head.

I try to keep my subject as comfortable as possible. In the photo below, Tanis is sitting down in comfortable clothes. She has a bottle of water in her hand to keep her refreshed and a mirror in her eyesight so she can always check herself, her pose and maybe catch loose hair on her face.

Then, just shoot! I try to keep my models moving bit by bit, never being still after a shoot – because if they are not moving, you are taking the same exact shot wasting your clicks and time. Shooting the same thing over and over again might make you develop bad habits.

Maybe you can do sets of 4 clicks angled one way then another 4 the other and keep doing that until you are happy. In this case, I moved Tanis’ head left, right, up and down then I reviewed and checked my favorite angle. If I find a favorite, I start and concentrate there a bit, but still making her move in increments every shot.

courtesy Johnel Clemente

Though most professionals shoot at a higher aperture (typically f/8-11), I like shooting mine anywhere between f/3.2-4. The reason for this is I like some blur so the viewer will be concentrated even more to the center of the subject’s shot, the eyes, nose and mouth. Hopefully that will be more engaging. I am actually really happy with the result straight off of the camera but there is a bit of loose hair and a tad bit of shadow underneath the eyes that I can help out a little bit.

courtesy Johnel Clemente

So I’ll come in there and just heal the stray hair and some blemishes on the face, clone in the gaps in the hair and, a personal preference, warm the entire photo so it will be friendlier when printed. Hopefully the result will be really tight…

courtesy Johnel Clemente

Next time, we’ll do more with less equipment! That’s where I specialize in — just a strobe and reflector. // Jongpinionated: Mostly Photography and Creativity Daily // @el_jong


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