Use of light – Image 9 – Rankin

There is an artistic license to high budget, celebrity, portrait photography. It is the photographers job to tell a story through the lighting, emotions and pose of their subject. It easy to critic the artistic intent of portrait photographers, but its incredibly difficult to take a photograph that shows true emotion of famous people who need help to get their igo’s into the photographic studio. The photographer has to reach the level of their subject and creatively position them and talk to them to create an image that both parties will be happy with.

Renowned photographer Rankin takes images like this everyday for magazines. The images are beautifully lit of beautiful people, the pinnacle of commercial portrait photography; and with his new magazine ‘hunger’, people have a lot of these brilliant images accessible to them.


An image that speaks to me is the shy but confident portrait of american actress Scarlett Johansson (Lost in translation, Don Jon). The soft lighting creates a nice relaxing aesthetic of the actress that cleanly shows rankin’s view of her. The catch light in her eye suggests there is a frontal light positioned slightly above eye level angled down on her, this light evens out the shadows on her face creating this nice soft look, showing that its most likely a small soft box that’s used for direction and softness. Furthermore, the cleanly lit face from a singular light suggest that there were reflectors used to fill in the extra shadows of the face from the hair and the hands, creating the overall relaxed aesthetic that this image craved.

Overall, I love this image. Its a prime example of the skill of a commercial portrait photographer; with his consideration of light and the creative pose struck by the actress. To make such a connection with her to create an image that reveals her ring and bracelet (for more fashion content), while being intimate and interesting for people to see another side to her, it shows true skill.


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