I’ve said it many times. Rick Iannucci and Nancy DeSantis are amazing people and dear friends. Their program, Horses for Heroes, runs on their ranch near Santa Fe, and does a tremendous amount of good for wounded veterans and those suffering from PTSD. Being cooped up at home made me think of the beautiful wide open spaces out by Rick and Nancy’s ranch, so I ran a couple of portraits of Nancy over on Instagram. Which prompted a few questions about lighting and composition. So, here we go.
The light here is simple. One Profoto B1X through a 1×3 RFi strip softbox, Another flick of light off the rooftop of Rick and Nancy’s ranch house, which was fortuitously painted white. Done. Below is a production shot prior to the addition of the low light. A low bounce is generally a great idea when working with someone who is wearing a cowboy hat!
Compositionally, I was asked about the notion of her on camera right, looking out of the frame. Good and fair question. On the face of it, one could easily see how it might be more logical to put her camera left, looking into the frame. But….what can I say. I put my camera to my eye and my gut told me this works.
The other thing is that I’ve been trained for many years as a magazine photographer. One mandate always to observe: Stay out of the gutter! ( I remember the nuns saying something similar, but with a whole different context.) So, yes, work the rule of thirds, and keep the page layout in your head when your eye is in the camera and you’re working potentially for a print publication. Don’t put vital information in the fold of the magazine.
Also, art directors are always looking for areas to drop type for a lead photograph. So, here, they would use the open sky, camera left. (Could have been open space, camera right, too.) Often though, an editor would like someone looking “off the page” as Nancy is above, as they felt it created a visual impetus for the reader to turn the page and stick with the story.
Lots of reasons to do what you do at camera. Go with your gut is a great mandate. Even if it breaks rules, if the picture speaks immediately to your head and heart, click the shutter. Work the scene, but first impressions, as they say, are often the most powerful.
Above is Nancy on the prairie. Last shot of the day, with wonderful, subtle light in the sky. Again, the 1×3 at play, arrayed vertically, and a soft, soft pop from the light. Here, logistics drive the composition. Putting her camera left would have forced the light to work really hard, full power-ish, and the result would have been shadowy and harder. This is just a whisper from the strobe.
Here’s one of Rick. Same light treatment as above, actually. Vertical strip, but with pop and purposeful emphasis to illuminate details and character. Amazing face for a portrait. Rick has lived life.
Below, Rick tries to calm me down in a moment of creative angst. Fun on the set with friends.
All the finished portraits here are with one camera and one lens. The Nikon Z7 and the 24-70mm f4. Sharpness personified. Versatile.
Apart from all the technique and gear, the absolute best part about photography is the people you meet, and friendships made, and the experience gained.
Stay well and safe everyone! More tk…..