Taking an iconic image, even one, is a dream of many, if not all photographers. Pushing the envelope of what’s already been done, taking a noteworthy moment of life and having it immortalized on ‘film’ is sort of the ultimate praise and affirmation of skill for us. For some, they happen to be in the right place, right scenario, right everything at the right time, and sometimes it happens quickly. For others, it takes time, or it simply may never happen. Then there are those who seem able to manufacture them like a Ford assembly line. What does it take to do this?
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I think you may get an idea listening to Matthew Jordan Smith speak about the craft. Sure he’s a Sony Artisan, has a client list that looks like the American Express Black card invitee list with the likes of Oprah, Britney Spears, Jamie Foxx, Tyra Banks, Revlon, L’Oreal, and HBO, but listening to how he speaks about what he does may be more of an indication of how he has managed to be where he is, than just his technical proficiency.
In this video from the fine people at Profoto, Smith speaks about an iconic image he took of Tyra Banks; how the idea was spawned, what lighting tools he adopted, and really walks you through his approach. The light used is an obvious one given the glaring catchlight in her eyes, it’s a ringlight. Smith stresses, however, that to generate this look, there was more to know than just what light was used. He also gives notion to how he treats his clients, thinking about their comfort, and how he gets to know them well personally before shooting. This it seems, the approach, is what makes him special. That said, he does share his lighting set-up for those of you technical ones looking for a breakdown.
Source: The Phoblographer