Environmental Portraits Project

Portraiture has been something I have loved from the very beginning. There is something about capturing the subtle nuances that are brought forth during a photoshoot. I recently began focusing on a project photographing people in the places that describe them best; whether that be in their home or at the place they work. Through the use of lighting and composition, I tried to enhance not only the subject within the photograph but also the environment they are in as well. So without further ado, here are several of my favorite images so far and how I captured each image.




Maddie is a wonderful photographer and friend who I had the pleasure of meeting in one of my photography courses at Columbia College Chicago. 

To get this photograph I scouted her room to find the best space that truly showed who she is. I loved the idea of having her room in the background while still showing parts of her living room filled with personal photographs and little trinkets. I lit this with two strobes, the key being to the left of the subject with a 47in umbrella softbox with CTO and a second light placed in her bedroom with CTO. I wanted to keep the lighting as a natural as possible while making it feeling warm and homey.

Take a look at her beautiful work at www.maddierogersphotography.com 



Ken Dunn is an urban sustainability legend. He is the founder of The Resource Center, which runs City Farm in Chicago. City Farm is an urban farm that takes the food waste from local restaurants, uses it as compost, and then grows organic vegetables. Once grown, City Farm sells the vegetables back to those same restaurants.

While working for Columbia College's FRANK Magazine, I was able to meet Ken and photograph him at City Farm. This photograph was lit with a single speedlight with a bare 47in umbrella, keeping the light soft but making it pop a little more than if I had put diffusion on it.



Katie is a great friend of mine and was my roommate last year. As an environmentalist myself, she is incredibly inspiring with her love for the planet and how she volunteers her time. 

This portrait was taken at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, which is one of Katie's favorite places. Initially, I wanted to do something outdoors with Lake Michigan behind her. Though, with the Chicago wind and no assistant, it was impossible to get my light to stay up and not get blown away. We made the rash decision to see if we could photograph inside the aquarium. Thankfully, we were allowed but needed to avoid the areas where the animals could see the flash. The lobby of the Shedd is beautiful so I had no problem photographing with that as the background. This was lit with a single speed light to the right of the subject and by keeping my shutter speed low, I let the ambient light shine through a bit more (pun-intended!).

Take a look at here blog: www.styletongue.com



Andrea is an Italian man who is captivated by American culture. I have known of Andrea for a couple years now and only recently finally met him and I have always wanted to photograph him. His mind and creativity are honorable and he creates such beautiful images and films. 

To get this photograph I had Andrea sit in the back of his beloved Buick Electra. I had my speed light outside the left window and kept it at a lower power to let the ambient light come through. I wanted to show as much of the red seats as I could so this was at a wide, 24mm focal length.



Bryce is an incredible cinematographer and just so happens to be my boyfriend. His work has inspired me from the moment I met him and I honestly would not be where I am today if it weren't for him.

I photographed this just after Bryce wrapped on his short film, Paranoia. With the help of his production designer, we created a dynamic set with the Panavision and it's cases. Initially, I had started lighting this with one of my strobes but I wanted to bring in more of the background light but the light from my strobe was too powerful, so I switched to a speed light. I attached my soft box umbrella and thew on some CTO on the light and white balanced for tungsten lighting so the background would become more blue/green.

Take a look at his work at www.brycedrobny.com



Ivan is an illustrator and cartoonist for The New Yorker and a few other publications. 

Ivan was kind enough to let me into his home and up to his small, quaint attic studio to grab a couple shots of him at his drafting table. To set the scene he brought out a cartoon sketch he had been working on. With this image, I wanted to mimic window light so to the left of the subject there is a speed light with a 47in softbox umbrella lighting him.



I officially met Harold on Bryce's film set for Paranoia, as he was the gaffer. Harold is always such a happy and positive human and I admire that about him.

This photograph was taken on the final day of Paranoia as we were loading up the grip truck. I was having lighting issues so this was the only frame I grabbed with the light actually working. Harold was laughing at me trying as I was to get the darn light to work which resulted in an image I think I truly shows Harold as he is.



Brady is Bryce's younger brother. I met him even before I met Bryce and we were good friends for a little while. He is an absolute sweetheart.

This image was a complete and total accident but I fell in love with it from the moment I saw it show up on the back of my camera. This photograph was taken bright and early in the morning after a night of camping. I think it really encapsulates who Brady is. To light this there is a speed light camera right with a 47in softbox umbrella to soften up the light hitting him.


There you have it! If you have any questions or comments about any of these photographs, don't hesitate to ask.