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Mark Seliger’s Instagram Portrait Studio For The 2018 Oscars Will Give You ‘Natural’ Light Envy

By Kishore Sawh on March 5th 2018

Red carpet, red dresses, some red faces and a golden statuette. Those are some typical Academy Award traditions over the past 90 years of its existence. For 5 years running, however, there’s been a new one that has quickly become beloved: The celebrity portraits at the Vanity Fair Oscars afterparty, shot by Mark Seliger, and meant almost entirely for Instagram. This year’s set may be the best yet.

Over the past few years this new tradition has taken off and with that affection the sets have evolved, but over the last two years they seemed more alike than different, both in set-design and colour. This year has been a departure, favoring a more natural looking room with more space, more light, and warm tones. Gone is the Art Deco touch in favor of a more homely feel. Well done SuperCube for the set design.

One of the immediately obvious differences this year aside from colours (which are still a mix of orange and teal for that nice colour theory), is the presence of a lot of ‘natural’ light. Of course it isn’t natural, but the whole appearance of it all is meant to look as if lit by light outside of the windows on the set, compared to previous years which looked and felt like a studio-set.

This set approach gave this year’s images a completely different feel than in years past, having the celebrities like Jordan Peele, Allison Janney, Margot Robbie, and Chadwick Boseman seem as if part of a film, rather than a set.

Anyone who shoots indoors and is always trying to mimic some facet of natural light will be green with envy, and this type of set-up is sort of to be expected from Seliger who, some years ago said:

“I don’t always just shoot with one light but the appearance is always with one light, and that’s the trick of lighting. Lighting is really just to enhance, and is really just a tool. In my opinion, once it starts to feel tricky, then that becomes the photograph, and you’re taking away from the idea of, you know, what I consider to be great portraiture.”

I couldn’t agree more.

[RELATED: Maximizing Small Spaces For Natural Light Portraits | How I Shot It]

Check out the images below, and timelapse of the set being built.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Photography Rogue

    Great stuff! And the lighting is just wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

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