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.

Heck yes. I love the life that wind swept hair can bring to an image. It can turn a portrait into a moment and I love that. In this image, nature helped out but on calmer days I will sometimes have an assistant wafting hair with a reflector or a fan to create that same look.

One of the things I love most in portraits is subtle variations in posture. In this shot, her head is slightly tilted, and each of her limbs is doing something different. Her shoulders, arms, hands, legs, and even her feet are mismatched. All of these variations come together to inject the perfect amount of quirkiness into the image.

I actually tend to do all of my own styling (maybe my next career?) and for this shoot I wanted to create a really comfortable and relaxed look. That meant loose fitting and more casual clothes (like a cleaned up version of what you might wear relaxing at home). I chose the maroon and cream color scheme because it is simple/calming, and it matches well with the other colors in the image without getting lost in the background.

I love natural frames like this. It is always extremely important to know what is going on in the background and why you place your subject where you do. In this case, if Melissa was placed off center (without the door frame behind her), the strength of the composition would become less bold and the image as a whole would have less of an impact.

Some images work great on their own, and some work great when paired. In a nature comparison (in case you don't know, nature rocks), sometimes you find a specific tree beautiful, and sometimes it's the forest that's gorgeous. I always love piecing together images like this. When I do, I typically like to put together two that are different (one standing, one close up, one wide...etc) because if you put two together that are similar, it invites the viewer to compare them and say "I like this one better" (which essentially means they are thinking the other one isn't as great). If you have two that are different, it's easier to see them as two separate images that don't need to be compared.

I'm a sucker for minimalism. A perfect example of that is the fact that my desk is 12 sq ft but the only things on it (my iMac and a small book case) only take up about 3 sq ft. I like my images the same way, free of distractions. My motto has always been "If it doesn't add to an image, it takes away from it." In this case, this barrel had a few dark knots in the wood that drew the eye away from Melissa. Those knots were one of the things I removed while retouching to keep the image clean and free of unnecessary distractions.

In this image I placed Melissa just under the awning which left her with soft and indirect light. To match that same soft light in the image on the right (where the light was coming in stronger from the left side), I used a reflector to bounce some fill light into the darker side of her face. That not only brightened up a part of her that I wanted the viewer to see clearly, but it also made the images more cohesive.

Although I typically keep the highlights in my images pretty bright, I brought down the highlights in these images (with the tone curve in LR) because I wanted this set to feel a bit softer and more calm. Bright highlights, loud colors, and high contrast bring feelings of energy while softer highlights, and more subdued colors bring out that more peaceful mood that I was after.

Canon 5d II + 50mm 1.2L and 35 1.4L

In one of my self paced classes (From Inspiration to Publication) I talk about the importance of owning and using what I think is one of my most important pieces of gear, a journal. Everything I do starts on the pages of my journal. Shoots, projects, workshops, new classes, etc. Putting things down on paper always helps me bring out the best in my ideas. This shoot started as a sketch in my journal of set of images that I wanted to create. It started as a sketch, then turned into brainstorming, and then went back and forth between a few different looks before it finally landed on this. Getting my ideas onto the page and spending time with them not only helps them become more developed, but it almost always gives me completely different ideas that I can come back to later for another project or shoot. So if you don’t have one yet, please do yourself a favor and pick up a journal. If you think you’re too cool to carry around a journal (or not cool enough?), why not turn your phone into your journal? In addition to my actual journal, I use an awesome app called Evernote to keep my ideas organized. If you want to see the full set from this shoot, you can find them here!

Also, earlier in the week I announced the next FOSTER workshop! Come join Katch Silva and I in the Malibu mountains this November 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!


  1. Reply

    Heck yeah, ben! Always look forward to these, thanks for being such a huge inspiration!

  2. Reply

    So sweet girl!!!!!

  3. Reply

    So awesome to see the thoughts behind the images. Really clean, beautiful work

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