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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Headshots of Zach Tan (Peter Hurley-style)

Zach Tan
© 2010 Martin Liew Photography

In early October, Zach Tan contacted me via Model Mayhem, expressing interest to work with me to expand his portfolio. It's been a month since my last outdoor portraiture session with my singer & song writer friend, Don Derrick Ng. So it came as a nice surprise and I replied to Zach and we arranged for the dates and time.

More stories after the jump.

Zach Tan, a 22 years old young handsome man, who won Mr South East Asia Singapore in 2009, will be representing Singapore in the upcoming Mr South East Asia 2010 in Jakarta Indonesia early December. Zach has won Manhunt Singapore 2010 under the Top 10 Finalist, Manhunt Singapore Most Promising Male Model 2010 and Manhunt Singapore Mr Fabulous Tan 2010. He has made a few appearances on national TV, print ads, media interviews, fashion and charity shows, etc.

Zach is an undergraduate from Singapore Institute of Management. He took part in the pageant just for fun, experience and exposure. He certainly has came a long way to this day. All the best in his coming contest.

Coming to the main topic on the lighting set up for the headshot I made as shown above. I came across Peter Hurley interview video clip, filmed by Fstoppers. Peter is a New York and Los Angeles based photographer specializing in advertising and commercial work, including portraiture, fashion, beauty, editorial, actor's headshots, events and corporate photography. I was impressed and inspired by Peter's headshots work which he is famous for. Check out the Fstoppers video and you will know why.

I took the chance of doing Zach's headshots in Peter Hurley's style. Well OK not exactly the same. As we all know no 2 images are alike. Peter uses Kino Flo lights which give good skin tones on his subjects. Though I can't afford for the Kino Flo lights, I made full use of what I have and tried to do similar headshots with a different lighting approach. Here are the gears I used for the headshot shown above.

One Nikon SB 800 on a shoot-through umbrella
One Nikon SB 900 on a bounce umbrella
Two Vivitar 285HV for the background
OK I better show the lighting diagram to illustrate on the set-up. Here it is.

Looking at the diagram, the lighting set up is pretty simple and straight forward. The 2 Vivitar 285HV were set at 1/2 flash power, mounted on remote slave eyes and placed right behind Zach on each side to get a total white background on the paint-peeled light turqoise colored wall.

Next I set the 2 Nikon speedlights at 1/4 flash power. The light on the bounce umbrella gives a little soft light efex but strong and even enough to wrap around Zach's head and shoulders. The other light through the umbrella is for highlights on Zach's face. Though the lighting efex on his skin tones are not as flattering as those used with Kino Flo, the lights wrap around his head well and eliminate unwanted cast shadows. I could have moved in my large silver reflector, placing it right below Zach. That is to bounce the 2 lights back onto his face to further eliminate the shadows under his chin and at the same time to create a triple-catchlights on his eyes. As he was laughing and eyes are smaller, you can see a little catchlights on his left eye.

I was lucky to have a assistant to help me and she tried to make Zach laugh. I want Zach to relax and show the cheerful side of him. Not want to make him smile for the sake of smiling in front of the camera. I want him to open up to the camera and not to me. I want a real true smile on his face. Here's another headshot of Zach.

Zach Tan
© 2010 Martin Liew Photography

Here we have a better view of the catchlights in his eyes, which makes him look zestful or shining, if I'm using the right words. To view more photos I took of Zach, please visit my website.