My buddy Nick Milak currently has a glorious full beard and I thought he would be a great model for this shoot. I asked Nick to show up with a few different coats with large collars. I wanted to create something that looked like a classic painting/portrait.
I started by setting up my key light which was a Profoto Beauty Dish on a boom stand. The "spill" out of the side of a beauty dish is much brighter than the reflected light coming from the front and it was throwing way too much light on my background. To contain the light I added a grid to the dish.
At this point, the light was far too contrasty and I added a large softbox directly next to the key light. Most photographers add a fill light on the opposite side of their key light and I think this is almost always a mistake as it kills the directionality and mood of the light. By placing my key and fill light on camera right, I was able to make it "feel" like a single light source.
Once I had my lighting set, I didn't change it again. I simply worked on posing, composition, and getting the right expression out of Nick.
To edit the shots I used ACDSee's Photo Studio Professional software. It's basically a replacement for Adobe Lightroom for a flat $60. In some ways Lightroom is better, but in others, ACDSee was a clear winner. Loading raw files was extremely fast and culling my images was a breeze. I also found many extra options and filters in Photo Studio that are not natively in Lightroom.
Luckily you don't have to take my word for it, ACDSee is 100% free to try.
Big thanks to ACDSee for sponsoring this video and if you'd like to learn more about portrait photography, check out our full-length tutorials at Fstoppers.com/store.