Photographing Joel and his Afro Goth Style

Scrolling through Instagram, I came across a photo of Joel (@1shinobi) and his style really grabbed my attention.  It didn’t take long while looking through his feed that I knew I needed to work with him.  He shows a good variety of styles, but I was especially drawn to his striking Afro Goth looks.  I sent him a short message on Instagram and we quickly got to planning a time to get together in my studio.

For the first setup, I had just stained these two would panels that I had brought back from visiting my family in Pennsylvania.  When staining them, all I could think was how well they would look as table tops in my work.  Then a little lightbulb turned on in my head, and and I started imagining how I could potentially use them as a backdrop.  The day before the shoot, I set them up as if they were the corner of two walls coming together and did some tests.  Everything looked great, so I left everything set up for the next day so all Joel had to do was step into place.  With little direction, Joel gave exactly the look I had in my mind, and his wardrobe for this shot and leather hat played so well with the wooden background.

Transitioning to the second setup, I knew I wanted to use one of the wood panels as a table top.  Using a dark gray textured canvas that I painted as the backdrop, things looked a little too dark when Joel got into place.  To add more dimension to the portrait and help Joel stand out from the backdrop, I placed a green canvas backdrop that I painted between him and the gray canvas.  I don’t know what it is about this color palette, but I love how the colors play together.  I gave Joel a few posing directions but for the most part, I let him do his thing, and he eventually pointed down at the table like you see immediately below, which is my favorite shot from this setup.  Asking him about the gesture, Joel told me it is his way of expressing piece on Earth.

In the last setup, I took away the green canvas and table top.  Adding an apple box for him to sit on, I pushed it all the way against the gray backdrop.  With the backdrop now being lit, there was plenty of separation between his black leather jacket and the gray backdrop.  I removed the table because I wanted to include his camo pants in the final portrait as a small nod to the time he spent in the military.

For those curious about gear, everything was shot with a simple one light setup (Paul C. Buff Einstein paired with my 64 inch PLM umbrella).  I shot with my Phase One XF and IQ140 tethered into Capture One.  The first portrait was shot with my 80mm, while the second and third were both shot using my 55mm.  

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