Six Photographers, Six Styles... One Camera!; You Won’t Believe The Results
By
Monte Zucker
• Posted Jan 1, 2006

Paul Aresu
I had worked before with some of the other Explorers. I had even employed and trained one of them. But I had never before experienced the likes of Paul Aresu, a New York-based commercial photographer. His clients are like a who's who of dream customers. Aresu is a freestyler. He shoots just like all the commercial photographers you see in the movies: Boom! Boom! Boom! One shot after the other! He goes at it with a vengeance. He doesn't stop.

He's all over the place. In a single burst of shooting he may be standing, kneeling, laying on the floor, holding his camera up in the air and pointing it down (without looking through the viewfinder), or holding the camera down at his feet pointing it up to his subjects. In his own studio he can get away with it, because he has a ceiling and floor that seamlessly blend into the background wall. His assistant (I stepped up at one time to join the fun) sometimes moves his main light from side to side and up and down while Aresu keeps shooting away. He's one of the most exciting photographers I've ever experienced.

Aresu's high-key lighting is pretty much the same as we all used. It's two lights, one on each side, aimed directly at the background. They are approximately 6-10 ft from the background and controlled by barn doors on each side of them. To aim the background lights at an angle would be to bounce the lights directly back into the lens. The background in this case was a simple roll of seamless gray paper. The models were standing approximately 15 ft from the background. A single main light (fairly centered on the subjects) was two stops less than the light on the background. Exposure is based on the main light. That's what caused the background to go white.

Custom white balancing for all of the photographers was done by Chip Pecere using an ExpoDisc. Pecere is a portrait and wedding photographer in his own right. He was chosen by Canon to assist us all at these shows, because of his ability to react quickly and take away the potential stress from all the photographers appearing on stage. The costuming, hair, and makeup were all done by Vered, an incredible stylist who really knows the business!
Back to Aresu and his images. Aresu likes his skin tones very light and tends to slightly overexpose to achieve the effect that he wants. He tends to keep his main light in a flat, silver reflector. He does not usually use a softbox, preferring the light to be crisp and sharp. Like many of the other photographers, Aresu often uses a fan to blow the hair of his subjects, thus increasing the excitement and action in his photographs.

In these first two pictures by Aresu, he's directing the models all the time, getting them excited and keeping them psyched. By special request Canon asked several of us to feature some of their pocket cameras in the photographs. In one of these pictures you'll see the models holding them up or having the cameras hanging around their necks.

Turning off the two background lights in this third picture of his made the background go a neutral gray. Aresu surprised me by putting a softbox on his main light after watching Clay Blackmore do his thing. The biggest surprise, however, was his placing the main light almost directly overhead of his subject, thus creating a totally mysterious effect for this picture. Aresu has no set rules for his lighting, as I could see. He simply moves his lights and his subjects until they line up in complete harmony. I love the tunes he plays with his camera.

Clay Blackmore
Clay Blackmore, on the other hand, is no mystery to me. I discovered him at a college where I was teaching. I trained him and now I'm watching him go on to become one of the great photographers of our time. He, too, doesn't seem to have a single style. Based on the traditional posing and lighting that I originally taught him, Blackmore has expanded his technique to successfully go in several directions. He showed many of them in the small time we were each allotted at the Canon show.

Blackmore has the ability to put couples at ease and get totally natural expressions from them as evidenced in this black and white shot of this couple.
The black and white was shot in camera by simply setting one of the camera's preferences to "neutral." When shooting in the Raw mode, you can get black and white and color at the same time with the EOS 5D.

A firm believer in bringing his own props with him, Blackmore supplied one of the models with oriental paper umbrellas when he saw the way she was dressed. A light coming back through the umbrellas from behind made them appear translucent. Several of us helped to hold the umbrellas up for Blackmore.

For his high-key photographs Blackmore followed the lead of the others, exposing for the main light and having the background two f/stops brighter.

Blackmore really surprised me, however, when he used a pretty wild painted background behind his model for this third picture of his.
The hat and "cape" were props that Blackmore had brought with him. What really surprised and excited me with this technique was that while he had the model spinning he was also moving the camera during a slow shutter speed. The flash stopped the action, while the slow shutter speed allowed movement in her body, hands, and the background. He caused a small sensation as he was creating these images. I don't know where Blackmore continually picks up his ideas, but I can definitely tell you that his eyes and ears are always open...and he puts all his new ideas to use immediately, adding his own twist to them.

Robert Farber
Robert Farber is a man of many talents. His subjects vary from horses running wild to nudes to commercial shots like he did on stage with all of us. Also working in the Black and White mode, Farber started with a single, elongated light in a softbox. He simply stood his model in front of the light, tilted the camera to almost a 45Þ angle and created this Portraits statement in a completely unorthodox manner from what many of us expect.
No lights anywhere else...or even a reflector. He just started with one light and then kept adding more lights to achieve any effect he wanted. Continuing to keep everything simple, Farber put a honeycombed attachment on the front of his main light and lit only a portion of his model's face. He did turn on a smoke machine and shot a backlight through it to achieve the effect in this next picture. Notice the unusual cropping and placement of his subject.
Doug Kirkland
I've been in love with the images of Doug Kirkland ever since I first saw some of his Hollywood glamour portraits. Still keeping the tradition of making each and every one of his subjects outstandingly beautiful, exciting, and super-charged with glamour, Kirkland is undoubtedly one of the most exciting photographers you could ever see in action. He just doesn't "talk" to his subjects. He romances them. He directs them. He brings out the very best in each one of them by the way he coaches them and pushes them.

Kirkland's photographs are simple, elegant, and noteworthy...to say the least. He goes from a perfectly white background, by following the same lighting discussed earlier, to a neutral gray background in seconds, simply by turning off the background lights. He'll also sometimes use a spotlight on the background to bring your attention to a particular part of his composition, while he's also creating depth in his portraits. When I think of Hollywood glamour I think of Kirkland.
You can see by these three images of his why he still retains his reputation as one of the best.

Kirkland was the first person I had ever seen working with his fill light down by his subject's knees. I didn't understand the reasoning for placing it there, until he pointed out to me how it opens up the eyes and under the chin. The light is not pointed upward, toward the subject. It's pointed directly at the subject's legs, and sometimes directed toward the floor. It's the small amount of light that floats upward that he uses for his fill. The light is two f/stops under his main. You just can't dispute it. It works beautifully. I've been using the same technique ever since he first showed it to me.
Jack Reznicki
Jack Reznicki is one of a kind! Although popularly known as a commercial photographer of children, he photographs adults with sophistication second to none. Still, he oftentimes uses the same techniques he uses for children to coax expressions from his older subjects. When he talks to them he communicates like no other photographer I've seen in action. Don't put it past him to put on a clown's nose to surprise his subjects and get a true laugh from them.
At other times he can capture the inner mystery of his models and transform them into subjects bigger than life.
Me
...and then, there was me. What to do? Copy the great, exciting styles of the glamour, commercial shooters? I tried it. Bad. A total flop. I guess that I can't be anyone other than myself. I come from the school of controlled lighting and posing. I tell my subjects exactly how I want them to pose. I light the traditional way that I learned from my teacher, Joe Zeltsman. I position my lens where it sees either a full face, 2/3, or profile view of my subjects.
Yes, I've been influenced by many others, but I still can't get away from my roots. I love using a single light pattern for all of my subjects. I still turn faces toward the light. I pull shoulders back, so that they're not going directly into the lens. I shoot, maybe, 10 percent of what most other photographers shoot. It's my style and I'm stuck with it. No apologies.

I love photographing couples. It's their inner reaction that I'm going for. I want to feel emotion when I photograph people.