Posts Tagged ‘Rebel Ink’

Lighting Setup 2.0 – Chris Andersen, Queen Esther & DJ Megan Daniels


With the release of Mastering Lighting, I’ve been getting lots of messages asking for similar lighting breakdowns of specific images we’ve featured at One of the most requested is this shoot above, which has generated a ton of traffic over the years—it’s currently in the Top 5 most viewed posts of all-time on my blog.

NBA star Chris Andersen and blonde beauties Queen Esther Hanuka and DJ Megan Daniels certainly make this shoot an eye-catcher, but the majority of questions and comments revolve around lighting set-up and how to achieve this look. So, I’ve diagramed it out in detail for you below in what I call… Lighting Setup 2.0. (I mean, seriously, look at all that color.)


I was commissioned by Rebel Ink to photograph this cover concept and 10-page editorial for the magazine. If you haven’t guessed it already, the inspiration was Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit video. Without all the usual bells and whistles, SlickforceStudio’s industrial layout worked great as a raw space, so we showcased the exposed concrete floors and threw up a textured muslin and a backboard behind our models.

Knowing I had three blondes dressed in black guaranteed a stark color palette for the shoot, and I knew backlights would work brilliantly on their hair, so I pegged them from both sides, hiding the light stands behind the barrels. I keyed from camera right with a medium chimera and wrapped around the fill with a 74″ Octabank. I shot this on a Hasselblad 503CW at F4 on a 180mm lens to compress the space and make all elements powerful in the tight frame. And finally, we wet down the concrete for reflections, and I added a third backlight on the floor shooting straight at camera—but hidden behind the models—to add super-highlights and create maximum contrast.

Now, let me ask you: if a 7-foot tall athlete and a pair of gorgeous inked blonde superstarlets walked into your garage, how would you shoot it?

If you liked this and want to see more detailed lighting breakdowns, check out Mastering Lighting: Volume One here.

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Chris “The Birdman” Andersen enjoys his own half-time show in Rebel Ink


If cheerleaders looked like this, I never would have left high school.

Production Shots:

I’m terrible at shooting guys. Okay, well, maybe not terrible, but I find it much easier to direct women. Women have a range of acceptable looks to experiment with: sexy, innocent, smart, flirty, badass, adorable, etc.  Men just like to look cool.  And Chris “The Birdman” Andersen was definitely that.

For my shoot with Chris (and models Destiny Daniels (left) and Esther Hanuka (right)) for Rebel Ink magazine, the editor and I discussed recreating the set from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video.  We got some old oil drums, a beat-to-shit muslin backdrop, my awesome intern lent me his cousin’s basketball hoop, and we soaked the concrete floor. Anyone who has a studio knows that it doesn’t take long for you to shoot out every possible angle and background, and wish you had a different studio. But this might be the best Slickforce has ever looked.

Chris was cool as hell, and his demeanor put the models at ease as well.  As with nearly all mag editorials, you need a centerfold/spread. And you’d be AMAZED at how hard it is to find a centerfold pose for a guy (try it right now…see? WTF is he gonna do, lie down and arch his back?)  So I was thrilled with how well this 3-shot spread came out (above). It’s one of my favorite shots of 2009, and I’m gonna get a poster up in the studio.

This shoot appears in the January 2010 issue of Rebel Ink, on stands now.

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