Artist, David Nyquist, Oakland, CA, November 13, 2010
It’s a fun, if intimidating process, to set up a portrait of a fellow artist. It might be that a corporate executive wouldn’t be interested in the process or subtleties of photography, but a painter is very likely to appreciate the power of light and composition. I’ve been spending time with Arnold Newman’s portfolio this week and it’s always a source of inspiration. He’s the Godfather of editorial portraiture and photographed a number of notable artists, including Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams (talk about intimidating artists for a photographer to shoot!)
[more, and a "behind the scenes" shot after the jump..]
David is a fun guy, full of warmth. I wanted to illustrate radiance and some kind of glow. Initially, we’d planned for a shoot in his studio, a converted garage. I was excited when he mentioned the alternate location used here, an office and former paper mill. For a backdrop, we had the option of brick walls or white walls. The combination of both made sense to me for a blocky graphic feel, the emphasis of subject-on-white, and the gradual visual integration of David’s work, which is very similar in tone to the bricks. Also, it was late morning and strong beams of light were slowly sweeping across the space, adding a perfect directional glow for mood, depth, and narrative.
I set up a large soft box to add a gentle fill on his face and on the foreground paintings. It’s subtle, but keeps the contrast in check by filling shadows on his face and clothing. This was another exciting opportunity to boom my 7-foot box over a subject, something not to be tried without a pile of sandbags (52 lbs. worth in this case). It’s a bit like hanging a two-man tent full of metal bars over a client, but the look is nice!
I’ve really enjoyed the recent string of location portraits… more and more I find the variables and surprises of taking to the road to be more rewarding than the precision of studio photography. Thanks for a great shoot, David!
more more of my portraiture at http://mattbeardsleyphoto.com
“Behind the Scenes” photo by Stephen Richter