Achieve professional results for your portraits with some creativity!

“Under the insufficient condition, a touch of creativity can come a long way. This article will share to you photographer Karel Donk’s process of making a portrait for the president of the Republic of Suriname on the spot. Of how he managed to take a portrait of professional quality while not being in a professional studio.”
A photographer could receive random job calls through the day. Sometimes it is to shoot commercial products, sometimes to shoot models… but this photographer was approached with a unique job opportunity— to take a portrait of the president! Without any preparation, photographer Karel Donk received a call from the secretary department of the Republic of Suriname(a small South American country with the population of 567k), asking for him to make an official portrait for the new president. Such is a rare opportunity, the photographer naturally decided to take this job, but due to the limited amount of time available, he did not get to make much preparation for the task. He, therefore, decided to answer the call with only some basic equipment, including three ordinary speedlights, a small softbox, some light filter of different colours and a reflector.

The photographer only got the chance to come to the shooting location a mere half an hour before the official shooting, and this meeting room is the location.

But how could one obtain an extraordinary shot at such an ordinary location? The photographer decided to use the national flag of Suriname as a reference. Since the president is the leader of the nation, then he’d be represented by the yellow star on the flag right?

But directly shining a yellow light on the president’s face simply could not do. So what he did was place the speedlight with a yellow filter above the president’s head as top lighting, so the president is illuminated by a yellow shine. This is the first speedlight he used, he then employed another one in addition to a softbox to shine from the side, so the president’s skin appears in a normal colour. Finally, a reflector is placed on the opposite side to decrease the amount of shadows.

Lastly, he used the speedlight with a red filter to illuminate the background, in total, three speedlights were used.

An outstanding portrait need not be shot in a professional studio or with the use of the best equipment. With some careful consideration, ordinary equipment can be set up nicely in an ordinary room to achieve results that are just as professional and exceptional. Take a look at the image below for the settings used by the photographer.

From top to down: The red speedlight that hits the back wall directly, the yellow light that hits the top of the president’s head, the flag, the president in the middle, with a silver reflector on the right side. The one on the left is a softbox speedlight, with a Canon EOS 40D camera on the bottom.   Source: Karel Donk If you are interested in our articles, you can also LIKE our page:)