Recreating a low-key portrait


Dare I confess this took me 9 months to get around to! 🙁

You may remember me asking you this question in a blog post ‘What do you want from me?‘ And Tony ‘Hereward Gas’ replied with a challenge or rather a request to recreate a lovely photograph he had seen (featured image above).

I had a pretty good idea how it was done and finally got to shoot a short video of me recreating it, using my son (no he wasn’t in that dress!)

You’ll obviously need to find your own gorgeous model but the link to the kit is below and I’ve just launched a ‘beginners guide to flash photography’ so that will put you right on the setup.


Lighting kit for under ÂŁ100

Beginners Guide to Flash Lighting Photography

As ever, if you want to know more or if you have a go yourself please comment below and keep the conversation alive.

  • Darren Goodall

    Hi Adrian,
    Trying my hand with smoke and light combined, its a little tricky,
    I used a candle for lighting behind the glass skull, the tea light candle didn’t do anything.
    I used my Canon 50 D with my 50 mm prime.
    ISO 100.
    Aperture F1.8
    Shutter Speed 1/6
    the white balance was on tungsten,
    There will be a few more using this prop.
    Still messing around with settings and props.
    The smoke was created using some little cone beach wood thingy.
    The smell was shocking, lucky me I have 9 more to use.
    Not sure what Jane will say about this.

    Incense stick I reckon, just like yours Adrian.

    Cheers for now,

    • Hey, well done for having a go mate, it’s not going too well this photo challenge is it.
      That’s a tough one getting light from just one candle, you did well although I’m not so sure about the skull mate, it’s a bit scary lol.
      Well done though mate, good job and great use of the 50mm lens.

  • Tim Matthews

    Thanks Adrian this is very helpful. In this example, the grey background compliments Owen and the overall picture wonderfully. What background colour would you use for a head and shoulders shot of a person with black top with team logo? Is white OK?

    • Not for low key like this. Honestly, if it’s a football team or something I would stick with outdoors and blur a nice soft green backdrop, far more suited. If you want the dark studio look though then the model in the example is in black and it works well. Have a play 🙂

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