Photos by James Fidelibus

Editor’s NOTE: This is a guest post by the one and only Bambi Cantrell. Bambi is an icon in the wedding and portrait industry. Her awards and accolades would literally be too long to list here. We’re very fortunate to welcome Bambi as a guest poster to the Photofocus blog.

Guest Post by Bambi Cantrell – Follow Bambi on Twitter

I needed a new headshot done for some time.  Well yesterday that day finally came and I had my friend and fellow photographer James Fidelibus of James Brian Studios shot it.  First of all,  many of you will ask why didn’t I ask my partner, and amazing photographer, Michael Van Auken (who works for me) to do it.. simply,  I know his “shtick”  in other words, I know all of his lines to make someone laugh.. so they don’t work on me.

Can I just say for the record, I absolutely HATE to have my portrait done, and usually complain for about a week when I have to have one done.  Are any of you like me?  At least you know if I take your portrait or your families, I have walked a mile in your shoes.

Now onto the how it was done part:  Jim used a very large light source, a four foot softbox VERY close to my face with an equally large reflector on the side to make the light a bit flat.  Why flat light?  Simply to fill in all of my “cracks.”  :)  Flat light is very flattering on a mature face.  Once the lighting was set up,  then he got out his very tall ladder.. yes, giggle giggle,  higher camera angles are AWSOME on mature faces.  Why?  because that camera angle hides any double chin activity.  (not that I have one)  Now onto the hard part, making me relax in front of the lens.  That is no easy task.  All of those lights, camera’s, really long lenses, etc.. just make me crazy!  Jim’s answer?  Simply talk “shop” with me and redirect my mind elsewhere.  I actually found myself relaxing and almost enjoying the experience, and when it was all said and done, I actually found a few images I like!  Thanks so much Jim!

All of this highlights another aspect of photography and that is the importance of understanding an “f-stop from a bus stop.”  What I mean is that many younger photographers, or should I say less experienced ones, just seem to think the only thing necessary to become a “professional photographer,” is take lots and lots of pictures and maybe you will get lucky, and then once the job is done, to retouch the heck out of them or “fix them in Photoshop.”   A great portrait starts with a very experienced photographer who understands the anatomy of the face, the direction and use of light on that face.  I’ve included the before and after shots on my portraits to show the foundation of great photography.

I did retouch my images, but only slightly.  I used the burn and dodge tool a bit to give my left cheek a bit of shade, in one of the images you will see that my hair got a bit messy, so I took a small segment of hair from another spot and blended it to the existing hair to basicly fill in the bald spot.  In one of the images I used some of my custom Photoshop actions to add a bit more eyeshadow to my face and then I converted a couple of the photos to monochrome using those same actions.  You will see I took out my spots and blemishes, and smoothed the tone on the skin of my neck.  Lastly,  I used just a touch of Gaussian blur to just soften my skin a bit.  Most of the retouching was done in the camera, using great light, a great camera angle and a photographer with a personality!

So, the next time you think to ask a photographer you are interviewing, “What kind of camera are you using,”  maybe you should reconsider the question.  Camera’s don’t take pictures, People do.  Hopefully, very skilled, professional photographers that know an “f-stop from a bus stop.”

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