Chris Knight lights like royalty with the Profoto D1.
For this shoot, I was fortunate to be able to create a portrait of someone I really admire—the incredibly talented fashion and beauty photographer, Lindsay Adler. The concept of the shoot was to create a portrait that channeled the tones, color palette and sensibilities of historical portraits of royalty—in this instance, those of Flemish Baroque painter Anthony van Dyck.
I wanted to use all of the elements in the shot to create depth and drama, while having Lindsay appear strong and regal. The shoot, which took place this past September at Dream Shoot Studio in New York City, was a culmination of several steps of production and collaboration, from concept development to styling, hair and makeup.
The costume was acquired from a theatrical costume rental house, and we referred to this look as “The Queen of the North.” The hand-painted canvas landscape background was rented from Broderson Backdrops and provided the ideal depth and environment for the scene. The dark greens of the background provided a compliment to the more vibrant red of the wardrobe. Hair and makeup artist Johnny Gonzalez created a look that was dramatic, flattered the subject and was appropriate to the tone of the image.
One of the main challenges was shaping the light to create drama and depth in a scene where the background was two-dimensional. The background was gorgeous, and I wanted to make it pop. This was achieved by the use of a hair light behind the subject, just out of frame, so the sky in the background would appear to emit light.
Lighting was done with four Profoto D1 monolights. The key light, at camera right, was a beauty dish with a Profoto diffusion sock. The fill light behind the camera was fitted with a Profoto Deep White Umbrella with a diffuser. The second fill light, a 1 x 4-foot Profoto RFi Softbox camera left and low, brought out detail in the dress on the camera left side. The hair light, a 3 x 4-foot Profoto RFi Softbox on a boom arm above and behind the subject, also created a gradient on the background and helped give the illusion that the background was giving off light.
I believe that a personal style shouldn’t limit the way anyone lights, and crafting light for the subject, within one’s style is the best way to approach the process. I’m personally heavily inspired by classic painting, specifically Baroque artists (and probably more specifically, Dutch Golden Age artists) such as Rembrandt, Caravaggio and Vermeer. I love the sensibilities, the palettes and the balance that so many artists have brought to visual storytelling over time. I try to borrow just a sliver of that and translate those ideas into photography.