Yesterday’s Portraits

Yesterday, I shot a portrait session in my Brantford studio with a recent graduate from McMaster University (Congratulations). Here’s a little description of how I do such a shoot.

We did various shots (LinkedIn, Informal, Low Key, and the “Graduate Photo”. The latter because the one the university itself took wasn’t great. Here is a proof of mine:


A few notes about this picture:

  • The border is McMaster University’s official colour. The university describes exact CYMK and RGB colours on its web site).
  • The blue-green colour, made using two speedlights with Honl Photo gobos and blue-green gels aimed at a black background, was my suggestion; namely, a colour that contrasts nicely (on a colour wheel) with the university’s colour. It took a little use of the “HSL” tool in Lightroom to get the exact hue, saturation and luminance. This is important.
  • I made some adjustments to the background in Lightroom. Adjustments such as a slight sharpness and clarity reduction using the brush with auto-mask set to ON, and using the post-crop vignetting effect.
  • I made the frame in Lightroom also, with the extra help of an add-in called “LR/Mogrify”.
  • When a graduate does not have a robe, I rent the robe and scroll. And the “mortar board with tassel” hat, but of course this graduate has a turban instead.
  • The main and key lights were strobes with softboxes; the edge light was a strobe with a snoot.

As you see, shooting something as simple as a graduation picture does take a little more than just smiling, positioning the subject right, and clicking. All that is essential, but the rest is, too. It all has to come together in a successful shoot.

And these milestones are of course very important. Not just for parents and grandparents, but also for the person him- or herself. You need to have a visual record celebrating your life events, and one that is better than a bunch of cell-phone shots. Don’t get me wrong, those are great also, but an event as important as this deserves more.

If you want me to do yours, contact me. 416-875-8770, or better,


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