ONE FRAME: Child of the Sun


ONE FRAME is post series in which I break down a single image to give you a bit of insight on how I shot it, what I was inspired by, and why I made the decisions I did. I love hearing photographers talk about why they do what they do and I always end up learning little bits of information from those conversations. ONE FRAME is my way sharing my behind-the-scenes with the photo community. Make sure to hover over the icons on the image below to reveal the breakdown.

Whenever I need a bit of raw grit in an image, I bring it into a program called Alien Skin Exposure to add a bit of grain. I have never been a fan of the grain in Lightroom because it tends to look fake and digital, but ASE's grain is much more realistic and you have more control as to where and how the grain is added in. That grit adds a bit of texture to the image that gets rid of the polished look that digital images can have.

In this frame I bumped up the contrast a bit more than I usually do and I sharpened her skin (which I rarely ever do) in order to help her freckles pop. If sharpening is part of your workflow, it should always be the last thing you do to your images. If you sharpen your work before you retouch it you are only creating more work for yourself by sharpening things like wrinkles, blemishes, etc. Long story short, don't be a fool. Be efficient.

Almost no matter what else is happening in an image, if someone's eyes are open, your viewer will look there first. Eyes are the first impression your viewer will have of your image and because of that, I typically brighten them and sharpen them just a tad (I know, only grandpas say "tad"). In this image, I also brightened the whites of her eyes to give them a bit more strength. Boom!

To help keep things natural, I decided to keep Haley's hair down and and wet instead of styled. That not only made it easier to slick back (while still being messy) to keep the viewers attention on her face but dry, messy hair tends to soften the face while wet or slick hair can make the bone structure seem a bit more defined.

For as long as I can remember, all of my favorite portraits have been ones that have variation in body position. I love the lines and angles created by having shoulders at different heights, having one shoulder closer to the camera, etc. Not to mention, changing up those little differences in body position is one of the easiest ways to leave you with a huge range of poses to pull from. Just remember, it's okay if every little variation doesn't work. The more you do it, the more you will know what is flattering. For example, it tends to be more flattering when the front shoulder is lower because that lengthens the neck instead of shortening it. Switch it up, learn from it, do it again. Easy Peasy.

This dot is completely unrelated to the image but you are here to learn so I wanted to share something with you that made a huge impact on my work and business. If you are one to read, check out the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. It has made me see client relationships in an entirely new way and has really helped me put people in front of my camera at ease. Total tangent, I know.

To help define the Haley's Jawline, I made sure that her chest was in shadow and her jaw was lit. The lighter jaw pops against the darkness of her neck and chest which makes it look more defined. In addition to the difference in light, I also had her bring her face a closer to the camera which created a difference in focus as well. The crisp focus on her face in comparison to the soft blur of her body and chest emphasizes her jawline even more and draws your eye into her face first before it wanders around the rest of the image. Bingo!

Canon 5d III + 35mm 1.4L

Most of you may have never even seen this image from me but it’s actually one of my all-time favorites. I shot it a few years back when I was becoming way too comfortable with shooting in that dynamic late-afternoon light that is still a staple of my style. Too much of the same thing turns into stale work and I always try to grow before my work becomes boring instead of trying to push it further afterwards. In an effort to shoot some softer, grittier editorial portraits, I shot in the early morning which gave me an entirely different type of light to play in.

One of my favorite things about morning shoots is that often the haze is still out, adding a ton to the atmosphere and taking a lot of the contrast out of the background making your subject in the foreground really pop. That same haze turns the sunlight breaking the horizon into a soft glowing light that envelops your subject instead creating harsher shadows like late-afternoon light would. The late-afternoon light is perfect for those more dynamic images that I typically shoot because it has the strength and warmth to create a bit of energy in a frame. It’s perfect for happy-go-lucky lifestyle work but the morning light is great for editorial and softer fashion work because of the peaceful atmosphere that the hazy light provides. Long story short, all light is different. Learn your light folks. It matters.

Also, I’m so excited to open up spots for the next few FOSTER Workshops! Come join Katch Silva and I in Joshua Tree, CA or Ryan Flynn and I in Big Indian NY this summer for a few days filled with education and high fives. Learn more and sign up by clicking on the image below to be taken to the FOSTER website. See you there!

FOSTER Workshop

  1. Reply

    Always look forward to your one-frame series. love the helpful tips and tricks!

  2. Reply

    thanks a lot for sharing, Ben! Always a pleasure to check your blog! and so funny: just yesterday I bought the book by Dale Carnegie you mentioned and now i saw it here! :D great.

  3. Reply

    You’re amazing!! Thanks so much for sharing. I admire that you have a heart for educating others!

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