8 Week Portrait Workshop – Yousuf Karsh Week Two

It’s week two of the 8 Week Portrait Workshop, and the focus is on Yousuf Karsh. You can see the full gallery of images posted by other photographers of the AMAZING group I’m proud to be associated with over at Lighting Essentials. The portrait work of Karsh, as well as his lighting style resonate well with me. In looking back at some of my older work, I can see the similarities to his typical style of lighting. Karsh was one to photograph people as they are, capturing their true self. Looking through Karsh’s body of work, it’s like looking at history unfold. He’s photographed icons such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, Adrey Hepburn, Pablo Picasso, Fidel Castro and the list goes on and on.

I took to this weeks assignment full steam, using some of my style mixed with Karsh’s principles. First to be photographed was the wonderful Sailor Cher of Sailor Cher Tattoo and Piercing, where my better half works. Sailor Cher has a unique yet captivating look and presence about her. I had to photograph her for these reasons. I positioned her in her tattoo chair and built up my lights around her to highlight the wall behind with some of the work and images of her past. I then added a light camera right for my key light;  an Alien Bee 800 with a 50″ softbox. Just behind the chair camera left I set up a speedlight (SB910) to add a little rim light. This set up didn’t take long to construct, as I had the idea of what I wanted before even setting foot into the shop. Looking back, there is nothing I would change about this image, i love how it turned out. I feel I truly merged some Karsh with some Tucker Joenz.

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The next subject that I wanted to capture happens to be a good friend, Alex Peramas, a local musician that plays solo, as well as with the talented band “The Young Step”. If you are local to or visiting St Augustine and Alex or The Young Step are playing, you NEED to see them. Alex is a very cool, outgoing guy and I wanted to capture this characteristic in this series of photographs, so I asked him to come over to my home studio where we could do just that. We started out with typical poses and as we both warmed up, and then after a few beers and light tests we started to come up with some incredible images that I feel capture the fun and spontaneity of Alex. In this scene, I set up my key light almost directly above my camera with the 50″ softbox on the AB800 and then behind the subject, camera left,  I set up the SB910 for the highlight of the subject and then set up a stand with a SB700 to camera right behind the subject, cutting the power back by one stop to give just a little highlight.  I’m very pleased with these images, and again, almost effortlessly see a great deal of Karsh’s style in my work.

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In summarization, this was week 2 of the 8 Week Portrait Workshop with Don Giannatti. Thanks for reading and please check back for other posts.  Next week I’ll be sharing my experience on a study of Sarah Moon. Her work is brilliant, and I am a little nervous on how I’m going to tackle it.

If you’d like to see more work and info on Yousuf Karsh, checkout this page here at Artsy.

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