Using spot grids to highlight a male physique


The AD (Bill LeSueur) on this shoot was interested in a dramatic image that highlighted our subjects head and his torso independently. The original idea was based on a comp Bill had showing a guy sitting on the ground with a spotlight shining down on him and the all of the shadows fading into a black background.

Here is the program description he sent me:

Annual health issue publishing a week from Tuesday.
Collection of pieces under the umbrella of a connection between mind and body.
I was reminded of a photo JFK, Jr. published in his political magazine "George", of himself naked (with an apple dangling over his head).
He was writing about temptation.
Wondered if we could photograph a beautiful bare male body in a similar way.
Dark background, Body largely in shadow, head (maybe in profile) and torso spotlit, emerging from shadow.
(mind and body...)
What do you think?

I loved the idea for the image, but thought that instead of having the shadows fade into blackness, it would be really nice to see the outline and form of the body.

To create the photo we used 4 strobes:

  • 2 profoto strobe heads lit a white background, and were flagged so that there was no spill on our model (Eric). The background was obviously underexposed so that the white appeared grey.
  • The spot light on his head was created with a medium 6 inch honey comb spot grid fitted onto a Norman strobe. This light was positioned almost directly above the model and shining straight down.
  • The light on the torso was created using large 10 inch honey comb spot grid fitted onto a second Norman strobe. The light was positioned high, to camera left, and just slightly in front of the model, raking across his body.

While we were shooting the image, I had Eric stand really still while I took 2 frames. The first with all of the strobes firing, the second with only the background illuminated, giving me a silhouette. For the final image I used the silhouette in post to darken any areas that had more light on them than I wanted. Specifically his left arm and his pants. I also used it to create that shadow effect.

Anyway: thanks to Bill and Eric for a job well done. *-))