Re: The Language of Lighting
Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:17 am
St3v3M wrote:Shealah Craighead is credited with his photo and named a White House Photographer.
Personally, I think Annie Leibovitz is overrated in the same way I feel about Andy Warhol, but I'm uncouth that way.
And, I thought Pete Souza's official rendition of President Obama was well taken and reflected his personality.
Portraits of Presidents of the United States
The White House Historical Association Presidential Portraits
Steven G Webb wrote:But is the photographer responsible for the look? In a commercial product shot the photographer is not the artistic talent, that's the job of the art director. So who picked out the look. Was the result a grand success or a grand failure? I can't imagine Mr Trump wanting to look the way he's portrayed in this image.
I don't want to get too deep in the weeds here but I did shoot portraits professionally, 16 years in my own studio. Absolutely the photographer is responsible for "the look." Every photographer develops a certain style. Mine was very, very stodgy. I knew how to produce the Pence and Murphy portraits, could churn 'em out all day, cookie-cutter style. It's what people expected and what I delivered. It quite literally paid the rent.
That said, I also remark often (my late wife would tell me "Too often!") that I lack imagination. Steven, you are 100% right about commercial shoots (that I also did being a Jack of All Master of None guy who would utterly flounder without a good art director). I just don't have an art bone so all I could do was the cookie cutter portraits, but it was what people came for. I used a pair of soffboxes at around a 3:1 ratio, keylight in closer usually around 45/45, shadow fill near the camera about level with the axis. Most of the time it was straight-up Rembrandt, short position, unless I had a very thin face when I would light "broad." I'd almost always use a hairlight and a backlight or separation light, a small reflector on a short stand directly behind the subject. I only varied this when getting "fancy" or "artsy," doing, say, Donald Jack style full profiles with the chin on the knuckles &c.
I LIKE Trump's new portrait!
I do think his first, candidate portrait was grim death. It's truly awful, and it's not the lighting. I disagree with the analysis. Indeed, the only visible catchlights are in the "wrong" position in both portraits, low in the eye. I too was trained to analyze the position of a keylight from the position of the catchlight, but I think the analysis misses some other indicators, particularly in that first godawful atrocity. Just look at the shadow of his chin on his collar and tie knot. The analysis misses this entirely but it is literally key: there is a mainlight high and directly over the camera axis. The catchlight you see is from a fill at camera left but in very close to the camera. Trump has deeply hooded eyes and he tucks his chin, possibly because he knows he has a short nose and seeks to lengthen it in pictures. With a high mainlight his eyes don't reflect it, only the shadow fill. The "mainlight shadow" on the nose is just --- nose. The portrait was unretouched.
The new portrait is day from night. I'll be honest: I do not care for DJT, but for me there is a not a thing wrong with the portrait. He looks engaged, personable. His smile is completely genuine and disarming. The light is extremely soft, directionless, coming from everywhere and nowhere, like an overcast day. I find it very flattering. He still has his chin tucked to lengthen the nose and his eyes are crinkled and hooded. The sole catchlight is indeed in the "wrong" position, and it does seem to be from a light rather than a reflector, but it's hard to tell. I utterly reject the notion that "...there simply isn’t enough light hitting the subject." Nonsense! The scale is long but the white shirt is not blown. The skin looks good and for once not orange. The portrait has been beautifully retouched by an expert since the only way you can tell is to compare it with the earlier atrocity.
Trump is a man who controls every! Single! Thing! in his life! He likes the portrait! So do I!