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Photographing magazine portraits

Author portrait photo session — magazine cover

Had a quick portrait session for an author who was getting images together for a magazine cover and article. I was able to complete the photography part of the job in one hour from the time I showed up to unload my gear, make the portrait and pack it all back up. This timeline was possible due to the camera and lighting gear with which I was working. It helped that my subject was receptive and followed instructions for posing very well! We have all had those sessions where you ask for a tiny movement and the head spins around like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.” None of that on this job which helped almost as much as my kit.

Portrait session and setup

Here is the image made for the cover. An artist, as well as an author Joan, was interested in having her painted art as part of the background. Fortunately, there was some great window light to serve as the main light. Note room left for the magazine header and negative space on the lower left for title text. Other versions of this portrait were created in case the editor wanted more room.

Author/Artist Joan Andrew poses for the magazine cover
Lighting scheme for the cover portrait

We also created a working photo including her on the computer with books in the background for the interior image.

Joan the author at work writing on her computer
Lighting Diagram with the subject at table

A look at the camera gear

I have been a Panasonic Lumix fan for quite some time. I have used Lumix cameras exclusively for the past four or five years exclusively for my professional commercial and personal work. Currently, the Lumix G9 mirrorless camera has all of the features that I look for in a professional kit. I paired the camera with the Panasonic Leica DG NOCTICRON 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH lens. This is my go-to portrait lens. There is just something magical about it. (Panasonic just came out with a full frame mirrorless camera system but I haven’t had a chance to try that out as yet, but I don’t feel any lack in the micro 4/3rds format)

Lighting gear

I used Fiilex LED lights. The beauty of these LED lights is control, of the volume of light, as well as the color. The Fiilex lights have a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 93 which means your color will be spot on whether you are tuned to a tungsten or daylight white balance. Three lights were added to the cover image, two P360 lights and one P100 light that is affectionately known as ‘the brick’ because of its size and shape.

While your gear does not guarantee a great photo session it can certainly make your job easier. Remember the words, ‘Proper tool for the proper job.’

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

Special thanks to Jim Lersch for the wonderful lighting diagrams!

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