Mike Homan guitarist photo shoot

4th September 2014


Mike is an alumni of the Leeds College of Music and a guitarist. He also teaches any standard from beginner to advanced. He needed a number of photographs to promote his skills and services and found me on the Internet.

Mike Homan guitarist

Two spotlights were used to light Mike. The light starts to drop off around Mike's hand. The second spotlight stops the back of Mike's head from merging into the black background.

We booked a session and I asked if he could send an idea of what he wanted and to look through my portfolio to see if anything caught his eye. From there we came up with a shots that he wanted. Here are some of the photographs as a result of those discussion.

The shoot

The shoot was in my studio and we started with a live look first. One of my specialities is making a musician look they are on stage, but they are in a studio setting. I use portable spotlights to give the performer a stage look. The advantage of this is the camera is operating at fairly low setting so the results are sharper and the overall look can be choreographed. The musician is playing during the 'live' shots.

Mike Homan guitarist

The spotlight in the top right-hand corner gives the shot a stage feel. Without a light on the left-hand side the face blends into the background.

Mike Homan guitarist

The spotlight is focused on the top half of the shoot highlighting the head of the guitar and Mike's face.

Mike Homan guitarist

Another live look shot. This time the emphasis is face and his left-hand.

Once the live shots had been nailed and Mike had a few he liked. We moved onto a few more formal posed shots. Drawing upon a shot he had seen in my portfolio.

Post shoot

At the end of the shoot we sat down to have a look at the results and applied different renders to how the photographs. We could how the image would look like with a splash of post processing magic. In some cases I created two versions of the same image one in colour and the other in monochrome so Mike could see the differences. Whenever we did this Mike preferred the latter. When I shoot, I do so with a monochrome conversion in mind (if appropriate). Depending on how you light the scene with dictate how well a photograph will convert. Mike left with the photographs he wanted.

Mike Homan guitarist

Using the live set up this shot was achieved. I love the way everything fades into the background so the viewer is drawn to the guitarist. A touch of Rambrant lighting too.

Mike Homan guitarist

The colour version of the previous photo. Mike preferred the monochrome version. What do you think?

Mike Homan guitarist

Another promotional shot. You can see the catch lights in Mike's eyes. These help draw the viewer's eyes in.


A 50mm f/1.8 lens on a full-frame camera was used throughout the shoot. When you are working in a studio prime lens can come into their own.

Two spotlights were used to light Mike for the live shoots. Two normal studio stobes were used for the formal shots. For the key light, a circular mask was placed over a square softbox so the catch lights in his eyes would be circular rather than rectangular. A second light was used to light the background. It had a 30 degree grid on it to control the light spill. A gel was added to add a subtle mottling effect to the light.

Mike Homan guitarist

Post Processing

Most of this was done in Lightroom. Some of the corners were faded into black. A few monochrome renders were used and then tweaked until we achieved the look Mike was after. Apart from that, not much was done.

Mike Homan guitarist

I think there is something Prince-esk about this shot. The catch light can just be seen the eye in shadow, if you look carefully.

Your thoughts


Please leave any thoughts, comments, questions or just say, "Hi!" (not literally) below. I really do appreciate feedback. E.g. What is your favourite photograph and why?

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