Hernan Rodriguez – Case Study

By | |Photography|


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.

Hernan has shot for Playboy Beverage, NBA athletes, and various product and restaurants, things like NFL Superbowl trophies and rings and artists for EMI & Sony record labels. He shot the latest CD cover and design for the Gipsy Kings €“ Mario Reyes.

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.

This was taken after about 4 hours of makeup and wardrobe.

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.

This shot definitely has the feel of old fashioned photography.

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.

Old fashioned lighting, talent and wardrobe combined with Exposure's old world processing. Left is before, right after.

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.

For this specific image, I used the "Polaroid 669 €“ Shadows Blue" setting at 65% strength, it's an incredible combination.

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.

This is Exposure's Kodak Tri-X 400 in action.

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.

Before and After

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.

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About the Author:

Jimmy is on the marketing team at Alien Skin. He builds our training videos, writes for the blog, governs our social channels, and he is the self-proclaimed king of swag. He's also a professional photographer and a complete fitness nut.


  1. J. F. Herrera January 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Great work! I really like the first pictures.

  2. Lupita January 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    WOW! awesome work! Love how you are able to capture the expression with true detail, almost as if you can feel their emotions… They look like true masterpieces.

  3. nathan york January 14, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Hernan Rodriguez comes with a strong background in digital design and was also raised with a father that was a photographer, by combining the two mediums he has become the photographer’s photographer. His images are always edgy and fresh. I believe he gets the results from his strong desire to learn. It doesn’t matter if the technique is new or old – he wants to experience every facit of photography. Once he has captured the image he begins to reach into the digital design side of his mind and explore new avenues and techniques causing him to break new ground along the way. It has been a pleasure working with Hernan on several projects just to see what this guy will think of next.

  4. Cindy January 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    These images are amazing they can stand on their own, But the finale touch Hernan added with exposure 3 pulled everything together just beautifully. Amazing work!

  5. Henrik January 19, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Excellent work and interesting read!

  6. S. Delgado January 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

    These are all FANTASTIC!!! all are wonderful. I really like these. The light is great. The post is great. The comp is great. Really well done!

    all the best

  7. Nancy N. Gutierrez January 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I’m happy to see that Hernan is getting acknowledged for his remarkable eye. I was incredibly lucky to have my wedding
    shot by Hernan. He had free reign to shoot the event editorially, and the results are unforgettable emotion-filled
    expressions of love and happiness. I believe that Hernan is not only a technical virtuouso, but also able to ‘plug’ into and
    capture the ‘moments’. Just as he states in this article, he reveals and captures the precise moment that’s worth keeping.
    Thank you, Hernan, for my beautifully captured moments of one of the happiest days in our lives.
    N & C

    • Hernan January 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm

      Hi Nancy. LOng time you precious couple. haha! I am so privileged to have been part of your
      lasting memories. It is an honor have made a mark on you guys’ lives. Say hello to Mr Castor.
      Many Blessings.

      ps. didn’t have your email

  8. Hernan January 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Hey all. Many thanks for taking the time to respond. Jimmy-you rock man. Thanks for putting this all together and my right hand man, Nathan- you are part of this as well.

  9. TJ January 20, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Well actually following your masterful work is quite a case study of photography fused with art and design, simply bound in this beautiful tapestry of vision and insight. Wow! Breath-taking are the images you and “the team” continually showcase. Keep “recording the moments” and “giving your point of view” it works quite well…challenging others to stretch beyond the standard. Looking forward to your next projects on the cutting edge…Gasp…!

    • Hernan January 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      Hi TJ. Those are big compliments. Wow. I need you in my seminars. Lol. Kidding aside, thank you and stay tuned as there is years collection of images coming soon. This software was a huge instrument
      in the final finishing touches.

  10. Gary Parry January 26, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Great article. It is always so exciting to me after collaborating on a project to see what Hernan has done to enhance the final images. Thank you Alien Skin! Without your products we never would have been able to really capture the “vibe” of the era. What I love about it is that it allowed us to capture the feel but in a contemporary way.
    You guys ROCK! And thanks to F J Westcott for all your continued support. As always Hernan you managed to step up your game. Can’t wait to start working on these nest few projects!

    Gary Parry
    Executive Talent Coordinator
    hernan photography studios

  11. John C. Pacala January 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I agree on everyone’s (above) comments.

    I’ve had the pleasure of attending Hernán’s seminars and have been lucky enough to assist him a couple of times, where I witnessed his process to creating his beautiful creations. He is truly an artist! His strong art background, remarkable eye, skills in photography and Photoshop, his personality, and his awesome team let him produce such stunning images. It appears the use of Exposure 3 has allowed him to express himself easier by giving him more options as an efficient tool and gives a nice look to his already amazing work.

    Keep up the good amazing work Hernán!

  12. […] posted about Hernan before. Check out his case study and this Snap Art tutorial that uses his work. Below is the new […]

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