Photos of the Week

Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week for Nov. 20 

November 20, 2023

By Hillary Grigonis

Shadows are the photographer’s tool to sculpt and shape. Highlights wouldn’t have the power to draw the eye without working hand-in-hand with shadows. And when shadows aren’t creating drama, they are often helping distractions melt into the background. This week, we highlight five images that make exemplary use of shadows. Find inspiration from these stunning images by Eric Trunzo, Michael Davis, Estefany Michelini, Gurvir Johal, and Rachael Lynch. 

Eric Trunzo, Eric Trunzo Photography 

© Eric Trunzo

Uneven, spotty lighting can be annoying to work with as a photographer — or those spotty shadows could be an asset. That’s what Eric Trunzo of Eric Trunzo Photography decided when he spotted these angular shadows inside the art gallery he was working in. “At first I was annoyed, then I decided to steer into the skid and embrace the harsh light and the shadows,” he said. “The venue is an art gallery and the tree, signs, and art on the windows made all these even cooler shadows on the wall behind her.” He decided to use those shadows to highlight the bride’s red lipstick, capturing the shot with a Canon R6 and a 35mm f1.8 lens. 

“The most challenging part of handling these shadows was really simply just noticing them,” he said. “They weren’t quite as stark to the human eye as they were to the camera. It was actually quite bright in the room. I had her wobble to-and-fro a little to get a dash of nose (or not) in the frame.” 

Michael Davis, Michael T. Davis Photography 

© Michael Davis

The shadows in this image by Michael Davis of Michael T. Davis Photography both create lines on the stairs and draw the eye immediately to the subject. Davis explains that he captured this shot while attending a workshop led by Kesha Lambert. He wanted something different than the aerial view most attendees were capturing, which is when he spotted the deep shadows of the railing that could frame the couple below and also block off other guests walking through Central Park. He captured the shot with the Nikon D780 and the Tamron 15-30mm lens at 20mm. 

“The biggest challenge about capturing dramatic shadows like this is to be intentional about how to manipulate the giant light source that is the sky,” he said. “On a cloudy mid-day where everything is evenly lit, it’s very easy to capture an evenly exposed portrait. However, when I want the focus to be on the contrast, then there needs to be a clear separation between light and shadows. This is what the framing accomplishes. It juxtaposes the deep shadows of the lines and shapes with a pocket of light. This helps draw attention to the subject very easily and quickly.” 

Estefany Michelini, Michelini Photography 

© Estefany Michelini

Shadows can also be a tool for creating pattern and repetition in an image, like in this bridal portrait by Estefany Michelini of Michelini Photography. When the photographer spotted the shadows and natural light in the wedding venue, she knew she had to photograph the bride here. The art on the walls also add warmth and a sense of place. She captured the shot with the Canon R6 and 35mm lens. 

“Truly, everything came together with great ease,” she said. “I immediately visualized the photo. The only difficulty was all the pressure with the time. I only had two minutes to capture those portraits because we were on our way out to the ceremony. However, the bride was very accessible and easy to work with. Thus, the result was incredible.” 

Gurvir Johal, Gurvir Johal Photography 

© Guvir Johal

Shadows are an essential part of creating a double exposure, like this stunning image from Gurvir Johal of Gurvir Johal Photography. The photographer was inspired by the location. Because he’d shot here before, he wanted to challenge himself by exploring different techniques. He captured the shot with the Nikon Z8 and the Nikon Z 24-70mm f2.8 with lighting from the Nikon SB5000. 

“The most demanding aspect lies in envisioning the final image and then refining the technique to bring that vision to life,” he said. “Achieving dramatic shadows requires a combination of skillful camera techniques and strategic lighting.” 

Rachael Lynch, Beautiful Bairns Photography 

© Rachael Lynch

In a portrait, shadows are tools to either draw attention away from part of the face, or draw attention to it. Rachael Lynch of Beautiful Bairns Photography was inspired by Margaret, the owner of the sandwich shop across from her studio. Lynch admired the way the shop owner didn’t conform to social norms, both in her make-up-free appearance and seldom given smiles. Lynch took Margaret’s lack of conformity and applied it to the photograph as well, using lighting to emphasize lines rather than beauty lighting designed to minimize them. She captured the shot with the Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L. 

“I work with studio lighting, so the main challenge was making sure to block out as much ambient light as possible in my studio, which has six windows,” she said. “This was quite a challenge! But I specifically wanted to emphasize the shadows within her face as opposed to the typical ‘beauty’ lighting to minimize lines and imperfections.” 

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:

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