Advertising photographer, historical Fstoppers contributor and good friend of mine Blair Bunting today published a blog detailing exactly how he achieves his iconic images, specifically his popular football portraits. Blair has become known in advertising circles for his excellent use of rim light and kickers, and now you too can get this iconic look.
Blair explains how he came up with the lighting, and what he says might surprise you. No, he didn't look to other photographs for reference, or even conventional styles. He thought about how the human brain works and went from there.
The first place that I went to develop my approach towards lighting theory was not a photo book, but rather my psychology courses in college. It was a common theme that as humans we feel comfortable when we know what is around or in front of us...
The eye finds discomfort and intimidation in the unknown, and the unknown is where the light is not. The approach to making a subject intimidating should not be a mass of lights cranked to 11, but a single focus of direction where one light dominates and the remaining support the fear.
As an example, Blair points to a portrait he did for ASU a few years ago:
Notice that the powers of the support lights never go above the singular direction of the key, if we broke that rule, the eye would become comfortable.
When he uses this kind of lighting theory, the results are pretty fantastic. Here are some shots from his campaign for ASU football this year:
Blair has supplied some unretouched files from his shoots on his blog, so take a look at what these look like before post production is added.
All images used with permission.
[Via Blair Bunting]