Some time ago, Simon walked over to my desk to have a bit of a chat on our favourite subject. We work at the same office, doing totally different jobs, but share the same passion for photography. One of our colleagues sitting close to us, overheard our conversation about our endless search for new potential models. Mostly casting our net among the people working for our company or the staff at the hotel Simon stays in. It was not long before Jan Jaap Pape popped up his head and indicated that he wouldn't mind taking part in one of our photo experiences (as we now like to call them). We took note of his request, but Simon and I had our sights on a topic that did not need a male model right now. Several weeks later, we were considering the darkening evenings and what we could do inside to fill the winter months. Then it came to us, Jan Jaap, black & white a noir style experience. The next step was only to ask him if he was still game, and he was with the bonus and challenge of his brother too.
A few weeks later we were in a borrowed conference room at the hotel where Simon stays. To start off the session Simon setup a key light in a softbox and a speedlight as a kicker. Then it was down to me to start taking some test shots of Bas. Adjusting flash settings on my remote, until the balance between both lights was just right and getting my light man (Simon) to reposition the lights to my liking. The mood was relaxed from the start. Simon had greeted the two brothers in the bar and by now we were all at ease. Directing both brothers was a pleasure, the poses came easy making for very striking pictures.
The persona of Bas is a very confident and masculine character. When deciding on the poses, lighting and angles I wanted to emphasise these characteristics into the imagery. I worked with this, lighting Bas with deep shadows, as I feel these high ratio lighting setups work to portray this best to the viewer. The picture above is probably my favourite of the set. As a Micro Four Thirds camera user I often find it quite hard to get an extreme shallow depth of field. However as in this picture I added some background blur for extra shallow depth, giving it a bit of a full frame look.
Next it was Jan Jaap's turn in the hot seat. He sat down, I took some pictures. I loved his outfit. Very stylish, classic look, really fitting for the style of noir pictures we planned to shoot.
I am not sure if Simon or I mentioned the “squinch”, but soon Jan Jaap was following our directions from the famous New York portrait photographer Peter Hurley. His famous squinch technique (not the same as squinting) is a way of getting a striking portrait by moving the lower eyelid upward, while moving the upper eyelid is little as possible. Trust me it sounds mad and also delivers a few laughs, but you will start looking at the A list stars imagery and see them all “squinching” there lower eye lids and wonder how you never noticed it before!
Jan Jaap starting practicing the squinch while I was taking pictures of him and at first he got only a squinting action.
Then he pretty much nailed it when I shot the portrait above. My favourite picture of Jan Jaap of the evening. Everything came together, the cufflinks, the old watch, the contemporary looking suit and tie gave it has a very classic look and don’t forget “The Squinch!”.
It was time to bring the brothers together, Simon and I discussed the posing and lighting which was made more difficult with our under sized background. After a few concepts we decided on a more formal position that we knew would require quite some processing to get them surrounded in darkness. It was only a matter of a few frames before the boys delivered and I could present them my keeper a fitting, the style I was looking for.
Our conference room formals completed we wandered to get a couple of drinks in the bar and check if we might be lucky to capture some environmental imagery around the pool table. We found a couple of very relaxed groups that watched on with interest as we continued the shoot. It was around the pool table where Simon made the shot of the evening. A beautiful black and white where Bas looks into the camera while Jan Jaap takes a shot. I can only suggest you check it out at https://sutcliffe.photography
Unlike in the conference room I decided to only use speedlights to limit the amount of light flashes going off, trying to not bother the other guests hanging out in the bar. Our initial setup was just a single light at the pool table. which gave okay results.
But we needed some more background interest to compete with the bright orange pool table so Simon came up with the idea of placing some more speedlights with coloured gels in the background (at the bar). Which lifted the imagery and made for very interesting pictures.
As the barman had offered to be a model at some point, Simon offered him a quick capture using this setup. We since found out his mum loved it and we look forward to working with him on another experience day in the future.
So, brothers happy, the barman happy and us successfully packed up we declared another enjoyable shoot by HetSpul and Sutcliffe Experiences…. Until next time readers!