The Next Big Thing?

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

With more than 325,000 views on his YouTube video for Jonah, 18-year-old Graham Stookey might get his wish to play Red Rocks. I had the pleasure to make a few pictures of him for an upcoming story in the Columbine Courier (which is still a free online publication).

When I first started to light portraits, I used to overpower everything. I cranked up the power on my lights and totally blew away the ambient light. Lately I have been taking a much simpler approach to lighting environmental portraits. I add to what is available. With the portrait above, I was looking for a certain mood. Stookey shot the video I linked to in his basement. His theme has been to make a living playing music to get out of the basement and onto the stage. While not that creative, I chose to shoot the portrait of him “where it all began”.

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Environmental Portraits

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

I haven’t posted anything of value in a while so I thought I would write a little about a portrait I shot last week. I shoot a lot of environmental portraits. In the newspaper industry it is something that is used to illustrate a story where there isn’t an “action” shot to be made. In general, I really like shooting them because it pushes me to step outside my comfort zone and use some of that lighting gear that is usually collecting dust on my office floor.

The subject here is an 18 year old metal sculptor and amateur body builder. Because he wasn’t currently working on a new sculpture I chose to make a portrait instead. The portrait was made in the metal shop outside his home in Evergreen. I used 2 lights. The red-gelled-light on the left was used to signify welding sparks or molten hot metal. On the right side, I wanted a “light coming through an open door” look to give the shop a darker feel. I underexposed the ambient by 2 or 3 stops and filled it back in with the lights. Overall I am pretty happy with the end results. Looking back now I would probably add at least 2 more lights. I would put a light on a boom to illuminate the top of his welding helmet and I would try to illuminate the TIG welder to give a little more definition to the image. Other than that I like it.