Anelisa – studio photo session

Anelisa in the studio for a photo session

To create a promotional video clip for my studio, I had Anelisa stop by today so we could do a variety of looks. We used available light, continuous light, and studio lighting. It is also the first time we saw each other since the release of my new book – Direction of Light – so I was able to give her her copies. (In case anyone missed it, Anelisa is on the cover.)

As we reminisced a while about the number of times we had workshops and photo sessions, I realized that today was exactly three years, to the day, since the first time we worked together. The photos from that individual workshop resulted in one of the key articles on Tangents – effective on-location portraits. So yes, it’s been a long working relationship with Anelisa, my favorite model.

More images from this photo session, as well as the video clip, will be up in the coming days. But in the meantime, here is the pull-back shot of this image at the top …

The image below is the available-light only photo – it does have a high-key look that work well, but there was no control over the contrast, and some of the highlights are sacrificed. Camera settings: 1/125 @ f4.5 @ 800 ISO.

By adding the  Westcott Spiderlite TD6 (vendor) with the large Westcott 3’x4′ softbox (vendor), I was able to bring the exposure settings to: 1/250 @ f/4.5 @ 800 ISO and with the extra (continuous) light added (as with the top image), the light was balanced better with the background … while still allowing the background to blow out.  Of course, the same could’ve been achieved with a touch flash and a large softbox.


As a teaser, here is another photograph from the photo session.
Details: studio lighting: smaller light = harder light = dramatic light


my favorite image

When I posted this photo on Facebook, I mentioned that this is possibly my favorite image to date of Anelisa. The question inevitably came up, why this would be.

If I had to try and describe why, it would be for the elegance and simplicity. I somehow feel that the more I grow as a photographer, the more stripped-down my images become. Less clutter. Less complicated. (And she looks hot there!)

In addition to that, I also *really* like the lighting here. THIS is my style of lighting.

So, directly after my quick dabbling with the ugliness that is ring-flash as a main source of light, I feel as if I am “home” again. This is my style in portrait photography. This is what I do. For now.


Westcott Spiderlite kits

13 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1 says

    The picture above the line “As a teaser…” is one of the best I’ve seen on your site! The high key look is wonderful and in stark contrast to the ring-flash images that I found rather uninspiring. You enjoy a great relationship with your model and it shows… the images don’t look contrived at all. Beautiful, Neil.

  2. 3Fred Hoegeman says

    Just got my third book.

    Anelisa on the cover is a hit in my book.

    Today, Anelisa with make-up, hair do and a gown – OMG ! !

    Fred Hoegeman
    Macomb Mi.

  3. 4Vernon says

    Gorgeous! I totally love the way the window washes out except for the center frame work, very simple yet elegant. Reminds me of your work at the mall entrance. It gives such a dreamy look your attention can’t help but be centered on the subject.
    Enjoy your new studio, I’m sure you’re having a ball!!

    Anelisa looks amazing she has always looked beautiful in each of her portraits, but begin he first time I’ve seen her in full on makeup she’s totally breathtaking.

  4. 6sheri j says

    funny how you answered the exact question I was thinking about the image :) I am glad as always to see the behind the scenes info and pull back shot

  5. 7Trent Gillespie says

    The first thing that came to mind when I saw the teaser image was wow… Tighter portraits usually don’t make me say “wow”, but the way everything is balanced is just perfect. You nailed it.

  6. 8plevyadophy says

    With regard to your favourite picture of Anelisa, I have to agree with you. I have been following your site for years, and I have to be honest and say I have never liked her look. In all that time I have only ever seen two images of her that look hot, one that was done by a guest blogger on this site recently (a close up shot)and the shot above that you say is your best of Anelisa; in fact when I looked at it I think I muttered to myself something like “wow, she looks hot”.

    Yep, I agree it’s your best shot of her. And the elegance you talk of, yep the shot has that too.

    Maybe it’s the photo gods working in your favour now that you have that new cool looking studio (I just love the way you have laid it out).

    Warmest regards,

    Thanks for the sharing and inspiration over the years.


  7. 10Matthew finnigan says

    Hi Neil I received my copy of the book this week. Thank you so much it has been a great read and something that I will keeping close to hand to refer to..

    Thank you

    Matthew Finnigan

  8. 11 says


    (and I love hearing WHY a photographer chooses a particular shot as “favorite”… thanks for answering that!)

    You added an unexpected element in the window with the dark outline acting as a double-frame, further leading the eye inward to linger with your beautiful model.

    Congrats to you both on the anniversary of such a long, successful working relationship, too.

  9. 13Marcelo Stefani says

    For me, “Hot” is a very relative concept.
    Anelisa is incredibly lovely and sexy, in a different and unusual way.
    And this can be seen more easily on video.

    Personally, I think she was more beautiful in the picture of the book cover.
    But the light in this photo is spectacular!

    Congratulations on your work!
    And thank you for sharing your knowledge!

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