Black Senior Portrait Background

For this blog post I’ll be sharing my technique for getting a busy background to look like a Black Portrait Background (similar to what you’d find in a photography studio). The final image was achieved with four flashes and camera settings that helped me to take the background right out of my final shot (without using Photoshop).

I was on a photography assignment in Michigan when I received a call to see if I was available for a senior portrait shoot in the area. It turns out Nichole already had a senior portrait session but she was really unhappy with the entire experience. It turns out Nichole was a beautiful girl and her bad experience was completely the fault of her previous photographer. I quickly said “yes” but because of the time of year we couldn’t go out to a nice location for her shoot. I love a challenge and this was sure to be fun. We created a bunch of images I really loved right in her living room. We started our shoot by simulating a black background.

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Photoshop To The Rescue

These days there are a number of schools of thought when it comes to photography. There’s the “why fake it when you can create it” group and I’m solidly in that camp. There’s the “because of Lightroom I don’t need Photoshop” group and I have one foot solidly in that group as well. But Photoshop is my all around quicker-fixer-upper and it’s saved me more than a few times.

I have always tried my best to achieve 99% of my signature look in camera by bringing lots of flashes and plenty of tools to control all of that light. With soft boxes, grids, gels and radio triggers I like to wrestle a look out of my images before they ever get opened on a computer. Most of the time I succeed and my post processing time is minimized. But every once in a while I have a technical problem (like when the lights don’t do what I ask of them).  My recent senior portrait shoot with Alex is a good example of how I made a mistake on location but rescued the images in Lightroom/Photoshop.

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A fun senior portrait shoot with Alex

Recently I took a trip to southeast Michigan to complete a number of photo assignments. One of the assignments I was looking forward to was a portrait shoot with a great high school senior named Alex.

I’ve always loved location portraiture and I really enjoy the challenges involved. Every time I meet with a new client in a new location I don’t know what I’m walking into. Everything is out of my control at first and it’s up to me to use what I brought to make the most of the location and deliver an exceptional picture to my clients. It’s total pressure (and I absolutely love it).

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