What makes a great portrait and how can I shoot one? Well, the most common approach these days is to buy a digital camera, go to a party, pop the little built-in flash up and be surprised that all of our friends appear to be Zombies (unless you happen to be invited to a party where Christy sips a drink too), but that's not what I want to moan about (again).
I wonder what makes us pausing for a moment when surfing the web reading articles and looking at photographs? Why, for instance, do I find this portrait so great?
Photo by Patrick Demarchelier for Harper's Bazaar (July 1999)
Well, for starters, the photographer used a very basic - yet effective - lighting setup. There are just two light sources: a large, softbox (or umbrella) high camera left (45°), and a beauty dish (a small light source that reflects in the model's eyes) above the photographer. The backdrop is just a plain (I guess) whiteish wall/paper.
The one thing that makes this picture different and interesting is the little mouse on the model's shoulder. Maybe that's because when I think of mice, I imagine small, furry, quickly moving animals that are barely seen sitting somewhere. However, it's sitting there and seems to ask for attention. It also draws attention, because it is the brightest object in the picture, and the tones range from white mouse smoothly to black hair. Awesome idea, well done Patrick!
I'm absolutely convinced the quality of the portrait has absolutely nothing to do with supersymmetricüberbeautyperfectbodybigeyes Christy Turlington! It's all the mouse! Trust me!