“Jared” by Jon Haverstick

As a commercial photographer and musician, I love working with fellow creatives. My friend, Jared, is the amazing lead guitarist for our worship team. He breaks out this beautiful Ibanez acoustic on occasion, and I’ve always wanted to do a formal portrait of him with it.

I do a lot of high-key headshots and business/executive portraits, but my passion is branding and lifestyle photography. Given my ‘druthers, I tend toward a more cinematic style in my portrait work. This is not a style my clients all want or need (though I have a few that specifically request it). But when given free rein, I’ll always try to work in something in every shoot that I can mold to my color-graded cinematic tastes.

For this series, I had a vision for a cinematic color-graded portrait of Jared with his Ibanez exotic wood-series guitar. But I wanted to do something that was more than just a documentary photo of the guy and his guitar. We tried a variety of poses in an effort to find something that was a bit out of the ordinary but still felt appropriate to how a musician might naturally interact with his instrument. I also tend toward a “less is more” approach to my images – trying to leave a bit to the viewer’s imagination. I wanted to highlight his face, his hands, and the figure of the wood. But with the exotic wood being such a prominent feature of the guitar, I knew I had to light it in such a way to show it without overwhelming the image.

We created a number of really cool portraits in this set, but this one, with Jared’s face half hidden by his instrument, had a certain mystery about it that I really liked. It shows off his hands and the beautiful exotic wood of the guitar without needing to see the entire instrument. Keeping it to a minimalist one-light approach, I was able to feather the light sufficiently to light both Jared’s face and guitar but without drawing the eye immediately to the instrument.

What are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

My eye is drawn to Jared’s face first: in my opinion, the key to a good portrait. The lines then lead me down through the image to his hands and the body of the guitar. The falloff in the light from top to bottom keeps the guitar from overwhelming the image but still provides enough detail to appreciate the gorgeous figure of the wood.

If you could make this photo again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

This was a one-light portrait (AD200 in a 26″ softbox, camera right). If I were to do it again, I would add a background light to create just a hint of separation of Jared’s head and shoulders. I think that might serve to draw the viewer’s eye a little more effectively to his face.

I was also experimenting with depth of field on my medium format camera. I’d like to have had a bit shallower DOF, but found that at larger apertures than f/16 in this case, I could not get both his hands and his eye in focus.

Jon Haverstick shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Jon Haverstick, Orange County, CA, USA


Equipment and settings

Fujifilm GFX 100s with Nikon 85mm f/1.4 (via Fringer adapter)
Godox AD200 in Westcott 26″ Rapid Box (with beauty dish deflector and diffusion) camera right and feathered
ISO 500, 1/125s at f/16

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Comments (1):

  1. Paul Reale

    May 23, 2024 at 19:39

    Perfectly exposed, well posed, beautiful portrait. I’d love to hear that guitar! Well done Jon.


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