The theme was simple: create the best work you can with the best equipment available on the market. Photographer Jessica Wikström didn’t hesitate when Profoto and Fujifilm challenged her to do a photo shoot with Fujifilm’s new medium format camera, the Fujifilm GFX 50S, together with the off-camera Profoto B1X flash. The result? Unbelievably sharp and ultra-detailed portraits.
Portrait photographer Jessica Wikström, known for her cinematic photos of men with beards, had a clear vision from the start. For this photo shoot, she wanted a slightly older model with a dapper, stylish look. The portrait should feel timeless and classic, but in clothing that could feel like his own. A model Jessica had worked with before put her in touch with model George Dellinger, who lives in the US.
“We had a great exchange right away,” said Jessica. “So I flew him in from New York and he really exceeded my expectations.”
Before they began the shoot, Jessica set up a hand-painted canvas backdrop, purchased from Hapaca Studio. Just as it had been with the model and styling, it was important that the background fit Jessica’s vision.
“I love their variety of backdrops, which makes it really easy to find one that matches your lighting and post processing. For this shoot, I wanted a backdrop with rich, earthy, warm colors. It fits my style and looks incredibly beautiful in just about any lighting,” she says.
When the backdrop, model and styling were ready, it was time to set up the equipment. Because Jessica’s challenge was to use a camera she hadn’t tried before, she felt especially confident about using the Profoto B1X flash, which she uses for all of her shoots.
“The B1X is my trusty workhorse. It’s so simple and it consistently delivers that soft, yet sharp light that I want. Together with the Profoto Softbox Octa, it’s really like you’re painting with light!” she says.
The lighting consisted of one light source: a Profoto B1X together with a Profoto RFi Softbox Octa, placed 45 degrees from the model to add drama to the light. The interaction between light and dark is what creates the cinematic style. Jessica used the same lighting for the entire shoot, and she used flags to block the light when she wanted greater control of the shadows and to make them stronger.
“It’s kind of become my thing to use just a single light source, so I’m always trying to find new ways to light so that I don’t get stuck using the same light, or start to find it boring,” she says.
Thanks to the new Air Remote TTL-F, which also makes flash synchronization possible with Fuji cameras, Jessica could easily synchronize her flash with the camera.
“As a gadget nerd, obviously it’s incredibly fun to get to try new equipment in action, and also to get to gather up my whole team and work together creatively to make the best pictures possible,” she says.
Jessica hadn’t used the Fujifilm GFX 50S before and she was incredibly impressed by the result.
“The image files are pure magic! I love the details, the creamy colors and how soft the transition feels between the shadows and highlights – and the sharpness! It’s never been this fun to examine your pictures fully zoomed in before!”
“The small size is another key factor for me. I never shoot with a tripod in the studio and I like being able to move around freely while I work, which means that size and weight are incredibly important for me. The GFX never feels as heavy and unmanageable as other cameras can feel,” she says.
New challenges await Jessica now: she is on maternity leave and taking care of little Elliot. But that doesn’t stop her from looking ahead to new horizons.
“When I get back, my goal for the year is to compete in portrait photography, so a lot of time will be going into creating competition entries. I’m looking forward to that.”