The Face Contender: Laura Bello

Photographer: Laura Bello

The image titled "Rylie" is part of an ongoing body of portrait work centered on clean, concept-free shots of models similar to test shots or headshots. Much of my other work is more of an editorial style or more creative beauty. When I work with someone for the first time, I like to shoot something simple to get a feeling for what type of creative editorial or fashion work they might be best for. This has actually led to some of my most powerful and beautiful pieces.

I actually didn’t always use this practice, but in the past I felt my body of work was overflowing with more busy and colorful pieces, which is fine, but I always wanted to explore a model’s beauty in its pure simplicity. I think there’s something very powerful about a simple portrait with no other distracting elements, just a face for the viewer to take in.

In this image with model Rylie Tolbert, I wanted something very soft and natural while still resulting in a striking and powerful image. I wanted to use window light, but since I didn’t have the available light to work with, I used my off-camera flash and pointed it at the white walls and ceiling of my small living room where I shoot. Most often, for portraits like this, I like to position my light so there’s a catch light just in the top edge of the model’s eye. The pose was nothing planned, I had the model move through many—this was simply the one I found most engaging. I loved the tension created by her shoulders and the way her hair was flowing behind them and, while you can have great portraits without it, I think eye contact is really something that helps capture the viewer.

"umph" in post to make it something special. Using many different techniques, both in Lightroom and Photoshop, I added the strong contrast and deep tones that really bring out this image. This also helps display the model’s freckles, which I think gives the image extra character, and I truly love that. I think all these things help bring the image together as a strong portrait.

Nikon D90, Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D, LumoPro 160 Quad-Sync Manual Flash, Post: Wacom Intuos 3

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