Retired mixed martial artist Urijah Faber. Photo by Hernan Rodriguez
Coming up in the September/October issue, Digital Photo Pro interviews portrait and commercial photographer Hernan Rodriguez.
Almost anyone can acquire the technical photographic skills to produce good portraits; the particulars of lighting and posing can be taught in a classroom. However, it’s a less frequently taught skill that often makes or breaks a portrait photographer—a photographer’s interpersonal skill—and it’s impossible to teach yet necessary to forge the meaningful connection between photographer and subject that leads to exceptional portraiture.
Speaking with Hernan Rodriguez about his portfolio of celebrity portraits, it quickly becomes clear that he’s a real pleasure to talk to. A natural, even. One helluva nice guy. And that’s no coincidence. I’m sure he had personality before he became a photographer, back when he was an art student and graphic designer, but I have no doubt he has enhanced his charm as the inevitable consequence of photographing people for a living.
Says Rodriguez, “My lighting approach to people is their personality. That establishes my style. And my background helps me see the nuances of light. We would have exercises of drawing a model and you’d have to paint light with a couple of light bulbs, but then you’d have to see those nuances of where the light falls off, because you’re staring at a flat, two-dimensional, white piece of paper. So to see all this detail of where the light falls and what you want to take away, it’s very specific to the client’s and the subject’s needs. That’s what it is.
“Sometimes I might light with as many as 16 lights because I want to create something fun, and I want to create all this detail, but sometimes I might just use one light. I might just use the sun. And I can use it as a three-point light system. You’ve just got to make it work.”
Look for the full interview by William Sawalich when the issue goes on newsstands September 5, 2017. Visit Hernan Rodriguez’s website at hernanphotography.com.