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Portrait of Master Hu, an expert in the ancient discipline of Shaolin kung fu, during a recent visit to Macau.
Portrait of Master Hu, an expert in the ancient discipline of Shaolin kung fu, during a recent visit to Macau.

The first challenge when shooting a portrait on location is finding the right place to place to do the shoot. For these types of shoots I always try to arrive early to scout the location for potential backgrounds. For this shoot with Master Hu, an expert in the ancient discipline of Shaolin kung fu, I was assigned to photograph him at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Macau where he was holding some special workshops on relaxing the mind and reviving the senses. Since the weather was bad I had no choice but to shoot indoors. The only place that seemed to offer anything that seemed appropriate for the shoot was in the spa area. I wanted to keep the shot simple and emphasize Master Hu’s discipline. A tiled wall at the end of the corridor in front of the elevators seemed to offer what I needed. The tiles added some depth to the background without distracting form Master Hu. Space was tight and in order to achieve the lighting I wanted we had to place the lights within the small space in front of the elevators. If any guests tried to come in using one those elevators they would be confronted with my lights. That meant I had to work fast.

For this shot I used two Paul Buff Einstein strobes, each fitted with a small Chimera softbox and honeycomb grid. The lights were positioned to create side light on Master Hu and each were to set to approximately the same power. I then asked Master Hu to go through a variety of kung fu stances and it was this shot, with the fan being backlit, that seemed to have the most impact.

 

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