Simple One and Two Light Black and White Portraits

Last month I attended a Power of the Portrait workshop given by Trevor and Faye Yerbury in Manchester. For those who don’t know the Yerbury’s are fine art nude and portrait photographers from Scotland. Trevor comes from a long line (he’s fourth generation) of photographers so I guess you could say photography is well and truly in his genes. The workshop covered some of the basics of how to market yourself as a portrait photographer, with an emphasis on creating your own style including how you present yourself both as a person and of course via social media channels. Trevor is certainly a master at creating his own style. If you ever visit either Focus on Imaging or its replacement, The Photography Show, Trevor is definitely not to be missed, his 6ft+ frame striding around with his white hair and pony tail!

As well as the basics of marketing we were also inducted into Trevor’s very basic, but hugely effective, one and two light portrait set ups. This consists of, respectively, a single studio flash with octagon shaped softbox (Bowens Octo) and a reflector or two flashlights both fitted with rectangular softboxes (Bowens Limiair). Trevor shoots with Fujifilm X Series cameras set to black and white with a square format pre-selected for the image. He reckons everything is take at 1/125 @ f/7.1, possibly a bit of an over-simplification however the message is clear. Keep the technology simple and focus on you subject.

With this in mind I was keen to put into practice some of what I learnt on the workshop so working with a local model, Viktoria Rose (warning, NSFW) I set about creating some black and white images à la Yerbury. Here is the result. The first two images are single light setups and the last two use a pair of flashes with softboxes placed either side of the model, pointing at roughly 45 degrees to her. All my images taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and 25mm or 45mm M.ZUIKO lenses (sorry Fuji).

M.ZUIKO 45mm f1.8, 1/125 @ f/8

M.ZUIKO 45mm f1.8, 1/125 @ f/8

M.ZUIKO 45mm f1.8, 1/125 @ f/8

M.ZUIKO 45mm f1.8, 1/125 @ f/8

M.ZUIKO 25mm f/1.8, 1/125 @ f/11

M.ZUIKO 25mm f/1.8, 1/125 @ f/11

M.ZUIKO 45mm f1.8, 1/125 @ f/11

M.ZUIKO 45mm f1.8, 1/125 @ f/11

If you get the chance to go on one of these workshops I recommend you do so as they are very informative and great fun (I even got my portrait taken by the man himself). Interestingly one of the tips Trevor gives you at the start is to stop attending workshops and get out and take more photographs. The latter is something I definitely agree with but I do think you should make the exception and attend this particular workshop.

2 Replies to “Simple One and Two Light Black and White Portraits”

  1. […] Said somewhat tongue-in-cheek at one of Trevor and Faye Yerbury’s portraiture workshops I attended in Manchester. The point being of course you can only learn so much by sitting and watching, or […]

  2. […] their art, and see what they do to put you at ease. I did this (involuntarily I have to say) at a workshop I attended given by Trevor and Faye Yerbury last year and it was definitely a powerful lesson that I learned […]

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