I recently had the pleasure of getting to know Hernan Rodriguez, a commercial and portrait photographer who’s won more awards than you can shake a stick at. As it turns out, he’s a down-to-earth guy that really knows his way around cameras, Photoshop, and just about everything else related to photography.
I asked Hernan to tell our readers a little bit about himself. That led to him sharing his entire process in a typical photo shoot from design conception to final image. The rest of this article is all from Hernan. Enjoy!
The most challenging thing for me to do is to talk about myself, but how else would I be able to share what photography has fulfilled in my life?
I started my career in design and advertising, with an extensive background in art. After a number of years working under the guise “art director,” I started shooting my own ads. This was the turning point of my career.
I like to use photography as a medium for the expression of life. Unlike other mediums, like charcoal or oil paint, where the artist tries to replicate a subject, photography has split-second accuracy for capturing the moments of life. And with the help of Exposure 3, I can quickly explore a variety of options for my final rendition. It even gives me options for old vintage films such as Calotype.
I asked Hernan to outline his workflow. I thought it would be a great opportunity to glean from the industries best. Hernan wasn’t shy about his technique, he outlined it in detail.
Westcott commissioned me to shoot some backgrounds for their 2011 Vintage collection. It inspired me to shoot a whole vintage collection for my personal work. I wanted to portray images that would take you back to the Old Hollywood era. Influenced by photography of Judy Garland, James Dean and Joan Crawford, I wanted to capture the mood of the period. Exposure added the texture and grain of some the films used during that time, it helped achieve that feel.
To make this project work out, our creative director, Gary Parry, put together our team; wardrobe, makeup artist and talent came from Hollywood Management and FORD. As a side note I’d like to say that the final image is not about you the photographer. It is about everyone present who added something special to the process. I’m there only to record the moment and give my point of view.
The lighting was set-up to project a historic period in time. I tend to use upward of eight lights on my talent, which gives me the most control over highlights. But in this case, it was a back-to-basics approach. I used a basic three-point light setup. I was very satisfied with the end result. The majority of key lighting was shot through a satin umbrella placed very close to my subject. This made that well lit Hollywood look with quick falloff. For fill I used a small 16×20 softbox and a reflector if needed. I also used either a background or accent light on my subject for separation.
One favorite of mine is the shot of the young girl with the pink hat. It was shot with very weak window light and one silver reflector opposite side. The final exposure was 1/50th sec @ f2 with a speed of ISO 600 because of the low light. This was a great starting point for the feel I was after even before any post work. I made a few adjustments in Lightroom and fine-tuned it into the 40’s and 50’s Hollywood era with Exposure 3. The final image was that of a classic Fashion editorial shot with the styling of the old films.
Another favorite shot of mine is the black and white shot of the girl pulling up her top. The strong and bold composition, in my opinion, worked much better after it was converted to black and white with the Kodak Tri-X 400 setting. I was able to enhance the blacks in the shadows on the color tab, it added some boldness. The final image now has striking impact.
Exposure 3 has been instrumental for adding a new dimension to my images. I teach Photoshop in seminars and what used to take me hours to achieve, I can do with a couple of mouse clicks in Exposure. I’m not an advocate of very many aftermarket Photoshop filters. They’re too gimmicky for my liking, their effects quickly become dated which makes your work look like everyone else’s. Exposure 3, on the other hand, adds a sense of sophistication to your images because of its accuracy of film options. I believe your work should be just as much about showcasing your art as it is about good lighting. Exposure 3 is another medium to add to your palette, it opens a new horizon to your imagery.