Portrait Photography Tips: Less is More

Clearing out all the distractions from a photo is often more important than what you put in. Remove everything that draws your eye away from the essence of the image.

Clear the clutter. Eliminate the extraneous. Keep It Simple Stupid!

When Forbes assigned me to shoot Don King, art director Bob Mansfield’s directions consisted of two words: “Think cover.”

I knew I had to bring back a bold, eye-catching image if I wanted to land the cover and figured that nothing could be more eye-catching on the cover of a business magazine than King’s signature hair.

We kept the shot simple. With Don sitting in profile, I back-lit him from both sides with a pair of Profoto Acute 2 strobe heads fitted with Profoto 12″ Magnum reflectors to rim light his face and make his hair glow. (Click to Enlarge)

Boxing Promoter Don King photographed by Brian Smith

Then I lit his face from the front with Profoto Acute 2 Ring Flash. (Click to Enlarge)

Boxing Promoter Don King photographed by Brian Smith

Right before we shot, Don did his part, combing through his hair to make it stand up.

Boxing Promoter Don King photographed by Brian Smith for Forbes

So… Did Don make the cover?

Don King photographed by Brian Smith for Forbes Magazine cover


I love it when a great plan comes together…

Gear List:

(3) Profoto Acute 2 2400 Pack
(2) Profoto Acute 2 Strobe Heads
(2) Profoto 12″ Magnum reflectors
(1) Profoto Acute 2 Ring Flash
(2) Avenger 11.5′ Baby Alu Stand 35 with Leveling Leg
(4) Pocket Wizard Plus III Transceivers

Secrets of Great Portrait Photography: Photographs of the Famous and InfamousGet more behind-the-scenes celebrity stories in Secrets of Great Portrait Photography: Photographs of the Famous and Infamous. The book draws upon the lessons I’ve learned over the last three decades photographing portraits of the rich and famous. The book blends lavish celebrity portraits of a coffee table book with technical how-to insights with a side dish of behind-the-scenes celebrity stories. Secrets of Great Portrait Photography takes you though all the stages of a portrait shoot from pre-production planning through posing your portrait through perfecting your shot in post-production. Loaded with details about three decades of portrait photography, each chapter is packed full of tips to successful portrait photography with lessons learned from each shoot.

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