Fantasy Model Shoot – Composite Workflow Overview

Fantasy Comic Cartoon Stlye Photo

After posting this image on my Facebook page I received an inquiry about seeing the original photo. I can see why that may have been a thought in someone’s mind because the retouched image does have a very illustrative look. I love working with that style. Taking photos and turning them into a more comic book, stylized, painterly look.

Below you’ll see 2 images. One is cropped in a bit so you can see more detail and the other is the full length photo. From left to right, is the raw shot right from the camera (Canon 5dmk3), then the image after being processed in Lightroom 5 and finally after opening that processed image in Photoshop and adding the finishing touches. I actually bring it back into Lightroom for a few more tweaks (coloring and vignettes).

Fantasy Comic Cartoon Stlye Photo


Fantasy Comic Cartoon Stlye Photo BTS

The lighting and positioning is really what brings this image together. I started with my model mimicking the pose of her holding a flame in her hand. Which was directly below a green gelled speedlite. There was also an additional green gelled speedlite (camera right) that directed a little bit more of green on her body. There were a total of 6 lights used 4 Paul C. Buff Einsteins and 2 Speedlites Canon 580exii. They aren’t shown in the image so I’m including a rough diagram of the lighting setup below. The key light (camera left) was a large soft box and the rim lights were narrow soft boxes (camera left and right). There was also blue gelled hair/rim light (camera left).

SWP, Lighting, Diagram, Photo, Design

Hopefully that provides a little bit more insight in on the workflow and setup of this shot. I love incorporating Photoshop into my workflow, especially for shots like these. I always keep in mind the final result when shooting and hope that my settings get me there.

Questions? Drop a comment.



Styling – Nick Jardin

Nick reached out to me and asked if I would photograph him as he did a cut and style. Now, I’ve worked with hair stylists before and I would snap the occasional behind the scenes photo to document the photo shoot that we were doing. Plus, it’s cool to see what went on before the final image was created. In this case, the BTS photos are the final photos, so I wasn’t sure what the expect when shooting, or when I was done. I approached it like any other shoot though, planning, setup and execution.

I knew I wanted high contrast and that eventually I would process the images as black and white. So, I did what I almost never do; I previewed the images as black and white vs color on the back of my camera. This was super helpful because I knew what my end goal was and shooting this way allowed me to get a great idea of where my tones were without having to transform into a dog. Many times when I’m shooting, I can visualize what a color image will look like as a black and white because of the tones and contrast in an image. This tiny change made a huge difference.

I almost never shoot just black and white images, especially in studio with a full lighting setup – in this case, I used 2 – 72″ shoot through umbrellas as rim lights and a 22″ beauty dish as my key. I’ve got to say, I really like how they turned out and think it works well for the subject matter. We played with a few different scenes and some variations of the light, but overall I early dig how it turned out.

BAND – Live Alive

Before photographing Live Alive, I was fortunate enough to work with these guys before, along with Mike Falzone to create a music video for their single Keep Me Awake.

As serious as these photos appear, behind the scenes, these guys are just fun to hang around with. At one point, I recall the guys breaking out into a hoedown sing-along. Something they do to pass the time when touring on the road. With ages ranging from 15 to 23, I couldn’t help but feel like the “old guy” in the room. In my mind I was just playing the wisdom card, as to not focus on my lower back pain at the time. Haha.

When I first heard their sound, I told myself that 16 year old me would like these guys… as it turns out 32 year old me likes them too.

This first image worked really well as a black and white, back-lit, dramatic photo and I liked it. I also thought it might look cool with some texture, so I decided to go through some of my archives of photos and add in a background…

This is the same image as the one above, but I just added in some gritty abandoned warehouse (super original I know, but it works) to the background. The effects I wanted with the back light is still there, now with some texture. Man I love photoshop.

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Cartoon Portraits – Toontraits

I’ve been playing around with a new processing method for some of my images. They’re cartoon portraits, or Toontraits as I’ve named them. A combination of a photograph and post processing (I use Lightroom and Photoshop) techniques that give the look of being hand drawn/3D cell shaded rendering/old style comic print.

It’s a look I’ve been trying to achieve for a long time, ever since I started playing around with photoshop, some 8+ years ago. I finally feel like I’ve reached the style and level of quality that I want. Some of the images are studio portraits and some are environmental and the process changes depending upon the elements in the image. This technique is totally manual and I don’t think an ‘action’ would allow me to achieve the same results. I played around with amplifying the toon effect by distorting some body parts and I think it works.

I’ve included some cropped in versions to showcase the detail.


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Senior Portraits

It was a lot of fun shooting Kassidy’s senior portraits. She’s a fun girl with a quick wit and that made for a high energy session. We shot in studio on a white background with the intention of creating composite environment shots later. My favorite, by far is the prom shot. A combination of two shots I photographed (I shoot a bunch of random empty background with the hopes of creating something with them later) this image came together with a great dramatic presence. All together timeless images that I think she and her family will look back on fondly. Nothing but well wishes to her in the future.

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Cinemagraph – A test with a Fashion Model

I really wanted to challenge myself with creating a Cinemagraph. As you can see with the image below, it’s a combination of still and video. Basically it’s a video with parts of the image isolated. I wanted to create something basic like this because I had this idea for a client where a fashion designer could utilize more than just still images on their website.

I shot a test with my friend Kim (LOVE shooting with Kim!) and she stayed pretty still, but to really pull this look off, elements, like her arms, legs and face really need to be isolated. A more advanced challenge would be to get her hair and moving. So far, I’m happy with the result.

Kim Cinemagraph Model Fashion

Multi-Talented Marissa

It’s refreshing when I find people that I work with that are both challenging and calming at the same time. I feel that Marissa is one of those people.

She’s calming in that, she’s incredible at what she does. For me that means she gets locked into a character. If I say give me attitude, she’s right there turtling and squinting. If I say, happy, it’s smiles for days. If I ask for an “early morning in the mood” look, you guessed it… She becomes these roles so well that when I’m done shooting, it’s almost shocking how quickly it can be turned off. It’s incredible.

She challenges me because she’s so good at getting into character, I don’t have to do much directing. It’s great! It allows me to focus (no pun intended) on composition, timing and experimenting with new ideas.

There’s a part of me that always felt that I could do a good job at acting if put in the position, although I think it’s only if I’m acting like myself. Therefore, I’m not a good actor, Marissa on the other hand, is.

I’m looking forward to working with her more on upcoming projects.

Check out these images full screen here


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Maternity Progression

This is one image from a series of images that I’m taking for a client. The final image will be a forward moving progression of her pregnancy. We decided to shoot different styles each time we meet (once a month) and this is by far, the most dramatic. I decided to pull out one image to experiment with stylizing. So far, I really like where it’s going – in particular, I really like her blonde hair against a purple background.

For those interested: it’s a 2 light setup. 1 Einstein with a strip box (and grid) overhead as a rim light and 1 Einstein camera right as key light. 7″ reflector with a 30 degree grid. Shot with a 5Dmk3 & 50mm lens.


The Way You Walk Away – Mike Falzone

This was a fun video I shot with @coffeegirl for @mikefalzone. Not only do I like working with Mike, but I really like his tunes. It’s fun to get them stuck in your head. Editing/Audio by Mike.

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