Times are few and far between when I get to shoot portraits of a person I really admire. Even rarer when I have full rein on creativity and lighting the scene. A couple months ago, I had one of those rare chances with Kosal Khiev. I first met him on the shoot of My Asian Americana and was moved by his energy and drive. A few weeks later, I had a chance to interview him with Princess Soma Norodom on her nightly radio show at PUC and was once again moved by him and his constant drive to better himself and his art.
We got to talking after and conspired to have a photo session in the near future. These photos are the result of the photo session.
One main element I wanted was an urban feel with the background. So we ended up shooting in an alleyway where I used to live. Another element I wanted in the shot was his ever present notebook which he is constantly writing in. The only problem is that it is quite narrow (about 10 feet wide) and was very busy with foot and motorbike traffic.
Lighting is a brollied 580ex as the fill light just a bit high and to my right. Two Viv 283’s with stofens are placed about 10 feet to the left and right of Kosal just slightly touching the wall at 45 degree angles. Not the most efficient use of light but it gave a slight rim light to him and it kept them out of the way of passing motorbikes! I wanted to accentuate his tattoos and the wall in the background so there was some manipulation there. I also brightened his brow a bit and turned the tonal contrast just a bit up for the great textures on his face and shirt. In all honesty, I would have liked to have had a reflector to push the light up on his face but sometimes, you make do with what you can.
Can I tell you that he is a pretty amazing subject to work with? I moved the Viv 283 on his left side a bit tighter and lower to him, but kept the rest of the lighting the same but didn’t notice that I stupidly blew out the words in the notebook. Luckily, I always shoot in RAW so I was able to save the detail in the notebook and it makes for a great dimension to the image.
A bit of a variation to the image above, the pose makes for a striking image. I wanted to cool down the background on this file and the notebook, so some layer masks later, we got this image!
In this image you can see how tight the alleyway is. Not too much room to work with. Once again, there is a brollied 580ex to my right and two Viv 283’s directly onto the walls to his left and right. Usually you use strip lights or a grid to create these lovely rim lights but bouncing off the walls made for a great substitute!
Hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I had taking them!