Photos of the Week


Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week for March 18

March 18, 2024

By Hillary Grigonis

For most people, black is a color — but for photographers, black is also a Lightroom slider, an attention grabber and an integral tool in writing with light. Black can be used to obliterate unnecessary details or to draw the eye to the subject. The deepest dark tones of black in an image are often key to creating a dramatic portrait.

This week, we chatted with five photographers on how they use black to create portraits full of drama. Find inspiration in this week’s stunning images from Rae Humenick, Christina Karst, Carly Brown, Lindsey Thorne, and Kellie Hetler.

Rae Humenick, Boudoir by Rae Taryn

© Boudoir by Rae Taryn

Rae Humenick of Boudoir by Rae Taryn says that this image captures two of her most favorite things — boudoir and underwater photography. The black background in this image creates a dramatic portrait by drawing the eye to the shape of the woman’s curves and her rippled reflection. Humenick, who says that boudoir is more than just ‘sexy’ images but a vibe, captured this image with her Nikon D750 and an on-camera Godox TT600, using Outex housing for both the camera and the flash. She used the TT600 to trigger an Ikelite DS160 to camera left and a Godox AD600 positioned outside the pool pointing down at the water.

“Creating black and white images seems like such a simple task – take a photo and convert it into black and white. But there is so much more than that,” she says. “From the in-camera techniques like exposing for the highlights while making sure to not completely lose the details in the shadows. I, personally, try to capture a flattering image and make adjustments to the highlights and shadows in post.”

Christina Karst, Christina Karst Photography

© Christina Karst Photography

Different types of fabrics interact with light in different ways. Inspired by the tulle of the bride’s dress and veil, Christina Karst of Christina Karst Photography wanted to use the contrasty light she spotted to highlight the sheer material. While this shot looks as if it was shot in a studio, she actually used a patch of sunlight shining through the trees to capture this image in natural outdoor light. Karst used the Canon EOS R3 and 28-70mm f2 lens.

“It’s often that when we see bright patches of sun, we want to run instead of manipulating it to work for us,” Karst says. “There is so much potential in bright light and contrasty scenarios. The forest behind her was in all shade. I knew that patch of sun could light up Sarah if I metered for her, and the background would fall off. Next time you notice a bright lighting situation, try to embrace it. Clients love when you want to try something new with them.” 

Carly Brown, Carly Brown Photography

© Carly Brown Photography

Weddings at this venue commonly have shots taken with the light from these large windows, explains Carly Brown of Carly Brown Photography. But, the photographer wanted to go beyond the usual images that these windows inspire and decided to position the bride and groom in two separate windows. She took the image with the Canon EOS R6 and the Sigma 24-70mm lens.

“My advice to other photographers would be — don’t be scared to shoot in dark places and look for the light,” she says. 

Lindsey Thorne, Lindsey Thorne Photography

© Lindsey Thorne Photography

The deep blacks and dramatic backlighting in this image highlights the bride’s nervous posture as she walked to see her groom for the first time. Lindsey Thorne of Lindsey Thorne Photography was inspired by the bride’s emotions, capturing this shoot as the bride took a deep, calming breath. Thorne took the shot with a Canon EOS R6 and the EF 35mm f1.4 using natural light.

“I knew she was about to walk through a bright patch of sunlight that was backlighting her against the building,” Thorne explains. “I chose to expose for the highlights to throw the rest of the frame into darkness while bringing the highlight on her hair and body language into focus.”

Kellie Hetler, Kellie Hetler Photography

© Kellie Hetler Photography

Kellie Hetler of Kellie Hetler Photography set up a makeshift studio to capture this black and white dramatic portrait at the wedding venue. Hetler stresses the importance of growth and education so decided to focus on enhancing her studio and artificial lighting skills this year. The result is this image that she captured using two black V-Flats and a ring light placed behind the backdrop and angled down at the couple. Her camera of choice for the shot was the Canon EOS R6 and a 35mm lens.

“The dramatic blacks in this image really came from using only one source of directional light and having a subject wearing a brighter color, like the bride in a white gown and veil,” Hetler explains. “When using a single source of light, only the features on the front of the subject are lit, making the rest of the subject fall into the shadow and adding so much to that dramatic effect. The bride’s veil also added a huge pop of highlight to shadow drama. If she was not wearing a veil, it wouldn’t have nearly the same effect.”

Dig into our Photo of the Day archives for even more timeless photoseye-catching wedding photos and portraits. Submit your wedding, editorial, documentary and other interesting imagery to: hillary.grigonis@emeraldx.com.

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