“Portrait of Dana” by Caesar Lima

I was doing a beauty shoot with actress Dana Chapman in studio and between looks, I decided to try something different, more intimate.

I gave the whole crew a fifteen minute break. Seeing a mid-century chair near us, I asked Dana to use it as a prop.

I turned off most of the lights and just kept one hitting her sideways plus another in the background to create some separation. The lighting was perfect, a casting shadow on her face and body gave the scene shape and definition. She right away felt the mood and gave me the best and the most authentic poses of the day.

I learned a long time ago that being aware is crucial, moments like these happen often but we need to be “present” to notice it. Sometimes everything comes together. Synchronicity, everything clicks, the background music, the mood, the lighting…

As a photographer I believe that shadows are the most important element in photography. They add depth and intrigue to photos making them more visually appealing and interesting. We start with a black canvas and apply light only where it is necessary.

That is the reason I always shoot tethered so I can give the model a visual feedback. Seeing the scene can help them feel confident and explore new poses. Positive verbal feedback is always helpful to guide the emotions and mood of the scene. A good portrait doesn’t happen by accident but it is carefully crafted by those who know how to direct their subjects.

I always put together a mood board on Pinterest prior the shoot which I share with models and stylists. That gives them a direction, a starting point: It’s very important to be on the same track.

I love to photograph people I know. I always get a better result when I photograph models that I’ve worked with before.

Less is more. Most of the times.

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

For sure the lighting and the interpretation of the model, this combination makes the viewer stop and stare at the image.

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

That’s a tough question. Even if I were able to reshoot and replicate this set-up, I know I would end up with a different image. But if could go back and try something else, it would be a the same shot on location, maybe a dark and moody bedroom.

Caesar Lima shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Caesar Lima, California, USA


Equipment and settings

Leica SL2, Summarit-M 1:2.5/90, Profoto B10
ISO 125, f/2.5

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Comments (2):

  1. Brian Hoffman

    February 16, 2022 at 19:35

    Lima’s simple portrait shows exactly how photography can be wonderful. Very impressive. I’m reminded of some of Hurriel’s celebrity images from the golden age of Hollywood.


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