Karen Swensen, Editorial Portrait

This assignment, one in a series,  was to produce editorial portraits for web, marketing, and promotion use of NECN on-air talent. Karen Swensen, a news reporter for NECN in Boston, was an easy subject to shoot. Very accommodating, confident, open to our ideas, and willing to open her house to the three of us.


Our content goals were presenting her in a flattering and approachable way, using casual poses, and including some of her daily environment. The technical challenges were balancing the various light sources in the areas we chose to use.

In one of the images there was strong direct sunlight through the kitchen windows. This dictated the high end of the exposure for this area. We then needed to balance the fill and subject lighting to match.

We metered and tested the lighting in that area to get the desired effect for the direct sunlight. Slightly overexposed, but still retaining detail in the important areas. We also planned on positioning her such that she blocked a large portion of the direct sunlight on the walls and floor directly behind her, eliminating the hot spots.

Next we setup a strobe to bounce light off the wall and ceiling behind us to create an overall fill light to balance the window sunlight. A few test exposures and rearranging its placement and we had a nice overall soft fill. The warm paint on the walls warmed up the strobe fill creating nice skin tones. We called Karen in to take the place of my assistant standing in for her during the tests.

We also used a single strobe on the right side of the frame to light Karen. It was balanced about a stop under the sunlight, and a stop over the fill. The strobe was in a small 24″ square softbox to soften the light, but still allow some direction and soft shadows for definition. We adjusted power and distance until we achieved the desired result.

We left negative space on the left for editorial type as this images was for a double page spreads with article title and intro. This being one example.


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