If you read this blog, you know I am all about proper lighting. And proper lighting is about off-camera flash technique, modifiers, and so on.

But it is also about making exceptions. One of those is what I like to call the “Terry Richardson look”. Look him up: he is one of the world’s most highly paid photographers and his typical work consists of putting famous people (think Barack Obama, Miley Cyrus, and every other celebrity) against a white wall and shooting with a direct, on-camera flash.

Normally, this is a recipe for disastrous snapshots. But he somehow carries it off, and we call it the “punk/amateur aesthetic”. And so I like to think I can carry it off too. Have a look at some shots from yesterday:

So why do these work, against all better judgment?

Because they have a recognizable look. And because they are what I would call urban cool. And they provide wonderful, even, beauty lighting that compliments skin and fills in any facial features (think wrinkles). And because lighting skin brightly is very complimentary. This Terry Richardson technique can take ten years off someone’s age.

The images above were made in the studio with a simple on-camera flash aimed straight into the subject’s face. I used TTL flash and (this is crucial) I set flash exposure compensation (FEC) to +2 stops. 400 ISO, f/5.6, 1/125th second.  You need a powerful flash (I used a 600 EX): the pop-up flash will not do.

But the above is all you need. And—here’s the kicker—because of this simple, all-filling light, no post work needed to be done on these images.

A few more examples:

Triptychs work well, too:

So this technique may look like a snapshot technique, but it is in fact well thought out and executed. Of course I would not recommend doing this in all your pictures, if only because twenty years from now, this will look dated. But for sure, Mr Richardson is on to something here. And I am happy to have this available as one of my techniques.


Note: if you want to also see the nudes from this session, head on over to mvwphoto.tumblr.com


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