Portrait of Salvatore Calabrese

I was commissioned to take a portrait of Salvatore Calabrese for the Mail. He is one of the worlds best (if not the best) cocktail makers and currently heads the bar at Salvatore’s bar, which is inside the playboy club on park lane, London. I had a rough idea how i was going to light it  before i got there. I wanted it to be quite contrasty so i cross lit his face with a gridded soft box, this can throw quite a bit of shadow across his opposite side of the face, so a key light (highlight) light was used. I used a standard dish with a medium honeycomb inside to create a spotlight and avoid flooding of light over the bar. This created a nice highlight down his right side of his face.


As most bars can be, there was not much ambient light. To avoid having to raise the ISO too high i had to light the back bar with another head (third head now). A normal bare head would kill the mood so to avoid it looking too lit, i stuck a quarter yellow gel on to give it the same bar feel we had before, but just allowing me to shoot that bit faster and not burn in the ambient.

We did a variety of poses etc, he was quite good when it came to this so it really made my job a lot easier.

Hope you like the results!!

Copyright Jespermattias.com Copyright Jespermattias.com

Beauty Shoot 1

I was asked to shoot a beauty feature for a large newspaper, the premise was easy enough, white background and a model and I could light it how I wanted. I decided to go directional, by this I mean use a hard light.

My weapon of choice was a Beauty Dish with a honeycomb grid attachment and have this high and left of camera. What I wanted was the magic triangle of light on the rear of the face as you can see from the final shot, yet still be low enough to throw light into the eyes as well without creating shadow under the eyelids.

The background was whited out by a couple of elinchrom heads shooting into white poly boards, they were about a stop hotter than the front light to ensure a nice clean white backdrop and also give the chance of a small bit of bounce back which I like. This gives a softer edge on the skin which can be seen if you look at the right hand side of the models face. There was only really minimal retouching here. A few removals of blemishes and a bit of hair work (cleaning up strays etc), the model had really good skin, coupled with good lighting and great make up it sure does make your day that much easier!

Make up was done by the fantastic Oonagh Connor from the Joy Goodman agency!

hope you like it…


A Beauty Hair Shoot

A Beauty Hair Shoot

Tower Bridge and the Shard building, London

I was shooting for a client a few months ago and wanted to capture the new Shard building as well as Tower Bridge. I knew I would need my tripod (I never take a landscape without a tripod) and possibly a few Graduated ND filters. I wanted the lights of the city to come on so I had to wait…..

An hour and a half later, the lights came on, it got a lot colder and i was just at the right moment where the blue of the sky was dark enough that it would still come through after a long exposure. I wanted the Thames to turn to mist and the lights of the cars to streak over the bridge. It turned out to be about a 2 minute exposure, which i think worked fine.I Also used a ND8 filter to cut the light down.

It was also one of those rare images for me that did not require hardly any post work to it. Usually I prefer to capture it all in camera, that goes for my portrait work too, photographers have become too reliant on CS5 and forgotten that you can (with enough knowledge and patience) get it right in camera. Not sure what I will do this image yet, one for the wall and possibly one for my agency, hope you like it!

Sorry for the copyright writing.. hope it doesn’t detract from the image..Tower Bridge and the Shard

Fun and Colourful Portraits.

I got asked by a regular client of mine if I could shoot portraits of all of their staff.

The brief was to make sure they were natural and injected some of their personality into the images and were not forced  or awkward looking. The Pr agency as a whole are a fun and dynamic one so after a bit of deliberations, we (the client and i) opted to use a background wall which was really bright and colourful (this colour scheme also was used on their business cards too so it would tie in quite well with that). Lighting wise, I kept it quite simple, I did not have too much room to play with with so it was important that I controlled the light as I did not want backlights spilling onto the subjects like a cut light might. I used a gridded head for the background which channelled the light onto the wall and away from the sides of the face. The front light was a small soft box, (ungridded, so if any light did spill onto the back it would smooth out the light on the background cast by the gridded dish). I used a silver reflector under the front light to clear up any shadows in the eyes or under the chin… the rest was trying to make the subjects as relaxed as possible, smiling and generally making it a pleasant experience! The end result was great, a really good set off natural portraits. Hope you like them!

A selection of a few portraits

A selection of a few portraits

Making a portrait more moody, with flash and daylight.

A lot of the photography I like seem to be dark and moody portraits, be that movie posters or stills to advertise Big budget TV Shows for example…(Image 1)

The photographer who shot this is actually my favourite photographer out there currently,(plus I used to assist him back in the day), the stills are dark, menacing and have so much life to them you expect them to start talking when you look at the image. The level of Post production here is probably vast, from the outset I look at the lighting, how many heads have been used to light them, (as they were all probably shot individually) probably two heads,(maybe 3 for a hair light on a boom coming down on thier heads slightly from behind), a soft box to the front and right (possibly with grids or egg crates in to make them more directional as well as slightly underexposed) and a hard back light (KEY LIGHT) coming in from behind and high up to create mood. The images look like they have been pushed a bit in contrasts well as desaturated in the skin tones. The usually skin work has been employed, adding or taking away blemishes, cleaning up the eyes etc..Oh and a dropped in background too…all in all, really nice!

My Work

Image 2 (my Shot), I tried to give a similar feel, it can be hard when you are outdoors to re-create a studio shot, but with a good balance of flash and ambient light you can get there or there a-bouts. I desaturated the face, darkened the sides to create more mood in the face and played around with the stubble so to speak, darkening areas and lightening the white bristles. This gives that visceral feel to an image, making it more alive and in the context of this shoot, more grizzly and weather beaten.I used a large scrim (diffuser) off to the right and used more of the ambient daylight. working with the shadows and the softened light I tried to create a darker portrait, letting the left side of the face fall into shadow but with just a spot of light on the left eye. I desaturated the image and also dodged and burned certain areas to create that depth and lifelike quality to the image that I wanted.

Image 3

Image 2

Image 3

Image 3

Image 1.

Image 3 was shot differently to Image 2, I used a light right above camera and very directional, Almost in the territory of a ring Flash, (which blasts light at the subject removing wrinkles, shadow etc). I knew this was a mood killer but as I had the moody ambient shot in the bag I wanted to try a different tack.I wanted a really shallow depth of field too, putting the emphasis on the subject and less on the environment. In post the lighting actually gave me great scope to push the contrast in the images well as working with the subjects features and giving it a different feel. A bit of darkening around the cheekbones and sides and some dodging etc and desaturating I came away with an image I was really happy with.

Album Cover Shoot Day2

The second day of my album cover shoot was about getting a more relaxed feel to the images. As the singer I was shooting is predominantly a blues singer, I thought we would try and recreate an American run down Mid-West type feel…(if that makes sense). The difficulty came with trying to find somewhere that looked like the Mid-West… on the south coast of England. Eventually we found just the place, Newhaven Train Yard, a wonderful location with broken down wooden railway carriages, long wispy grass and haylofts (or so we tried to make them look). I wanted the images very moody and atmospheric but also quite relaxed and not too forced.

Image 1 was at the start of the day and we got a really nice look going on straight off the bat. I actually had a flash head off to the right which was also where the sun was coming up from. I wanted to work with the sun but slightly overpower it so the shadows would darken down around him and the daylight was not too strong against the carriage.

In post I wanted the images more contrasty, so before the images were processed I upped the contrast slightly. In post, I highlighted just the singer’s face and again added more contrast to bring it out and make it punchier.

I wanted a slight reference to the music, but not make it so obvious and forced, which you see a lot in music magazines (the obligatory guitar glued to the chest), having it down by his side and slightly obscured by the grass was a more subtle choice and something you don’t pick up straight away).

Image 1.

Image 1

The second shot we used was a stripped down version, no suit jacket, just a nice white shirt, I wanted it more relaxed and contemplative, a caught moment as opposed to a staged shot (which of course it was). This was shot using just daylight, the sun was behind the “hay loft” so it meant there was plenty of ambient light around and it was quite soft too which was important for the image.

The post work was much the same as it was above, more contrast to the image as a whole and then I selected just the face and added more contrast to it. I also wanted to bring out the stubble slightly so I dodged the white bristles and burned the black ones, a similar trick I use for my landscapes. Overall, I was very pleased with them and more importantly so was my client….(which is really the only thing that matters in photography!).

Image 2.

Image 2

Album Cover Shoot

I was asked by a local singer/songwriter if i could take some shots for his forthcoming album.. obviously I said yes! When constructing the ideas in my head I wanted some atmosphere to the shoot, positivity and generally a bit of mood and movement. The location was in a forest out towards crawley, east sussex and I wanted the images quite warm and with a sunset feel. I used my Bowens Pioneer portable flash, some pocket wizards and my trusty 5DMK2 with a 70-200 mm lens on. I chose this lens as I wanted to shoot on maximum focal length on a shallow depth of field to blow out the background. I got the artist in position and away we went…. I added some warmth to the image by raising the colour temperature of the photo to accentuate the sunset look, upped the contrast and really very little else was done, there were other images in the edit but I felt this was the most natural and in accordance with my initial brief, I felt it met the brief perfectly, there was a bit of motion blur, but I actually preferred that, it gave it a relaxed and non set-up/staged feel.


Hope you like it.. enjoy!


Album Cover