Behind the lens of headshot photographer Ivan Weiss

It doesn’t get any more dapper than Ivan Weiss’s portrait photography. So we sent a film crew to get his thoughts on Affinity Photo for iPad, plus we commissioned​ a shoot and asked him to let us see behind-the-scenes…

Ivan is such a great advocate for Affinity Photo, so we also comissioned a shoot and asked him to let us see behind-the-scenes, here is the result.

The photoshoot

Equipment

  • Camera—Canon 5DSR with a Canon EF 85mm ƒ/1.4L IS USM lens.
  • Key light—Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4 reverse mounted in a Rotalux 150cm Deep Octa.
  • Fill light—Godox AR400.
  • Kicker—Godox AD200 in a Rotalux 100x35cm strip with a plus green gel.

Model

The model I used for this shoot is Antony Fitzgerald.

I had a specific look in mind for the brief discussed with the Affinity team. I reached out to a few people I’d worked with previously for recommendations and three different people all pointed me towards Antony’s page. I’d seen some of his work on Instagram before and I knew he had shot with other photographers that I know and follow. There wasn’t really any decision after that. I’ve since worked with him a couple more times.

Location

We shot at my studio. Location work can be great for providing a different setting but working in my studio means I am literally at home. Having all my kit to hand allows me more flexibility to try out new ideas.

The look

MUA: Makeup by Satan. I’ve worked with Farzana dozens of times over the past few years—sometimes as a makeup artist, sometimes as a creative director. We both started our professional careers at around the same time and we’ve developed a great relationship along the way. She brings an edge to everything she does without being gimmicky or over the top so she was a perfect fit for this project.

Stylist: Christina Blythe. I’d worked with Christina before and I knew that the styling I had in mind would fit perfectly with her tastes.

The concept

The original brief was to create a piece that would sit alongside the Orlando portrait that I had created earlier in the year. The brief was for a colour image, but I wanted to keep the palette fairly muted. I think the success of the Orlando portrait was due in part to the expression of the model, and in part to the use of texture in the image, so those were the two most important elements for me when developing the idea.

The image of model Orlando shot by Ivan, which the brief was inspired by.

I’d recently seen a BTS video of an Annie Leibovitz shoot with Keith Richards and I think some of that had stuck in my brain. Antony has remarkably soft skin, but it’s contrasted by really wiry hair and his grey beard. The Keith Richards vibe of course had me thinking about animal prints, and I know that they are a favourite of Christina’s. I don’t know where she sourced the wardrobe—one of the key skills of a stylist is to be able to beg, borrow or steal whatever is necessary. So it may be best not to ask.

“one of the key skills of a stylist is to be able to beg, borrow or steal whatever is necessary. So it may be best not to ask.”

Setting the scene

We tried out various props during the shoot. The table is from the 1940s and belonged to my Grandma. It often appears in my work—sometimes it is disguised with a tablecloth or a canvas or a piece of board, but it is always that same table. Here it is in it’s natural state after nearly 70 years of service. The canvas backdrop is from Parker Backdrops in Canada. Ryan Parker is a great photographer and I know him through my involvement with HeadshotCrew.com. As well as being a successful commercial photographer he runs a business with his wife creating hand-painted canvases.

The other props came from a shop just up the road—Islington Antiques—known locally as Paul’s Emporium. I often pop in and buy interesting bits and pieces but unfortunately not one of those props made it into the final image on this occasion.

Over the course of four hours we tried four different set ups. I initially wanted to work with just brown and silver—the table and Antony’s skin being brown, the backdrop and Antony’s hair being silver. But Christina had brought some amazing clothes so I quickly abandoned the idea of restricting the colour palette in favour of trying them all out to see what worked best.

The image I selected in the end was the second to last image I shot that day. Everyone was relaxed, we knew we’d already got some great stuff and we were into the phase of just messing about. Farzana added a bit more makeup, Christina suggested adding the hat and I said something borderline offensive to Antony. He gave me the finger (that shot didn’t make the edit) and then we all started laughing. Just as he settled back into a serious expression, we got this.

Editing in Affinity Photo for iPad.

A time-lapse video of Ivan’s retouching process in Affinity Photo for iPad.

The process

  • My first step is to open the image file from the cloud in Develop Persona.
  • RAW conversion: I flatten out the contrast, cool the colour temperature, and lower the colour saturation.
  • I make lens corrections to minimise colour fringing on the bright highlights on the jewellery.
  • Then I add Sharpening and tap Develop to move into Photo Persona.
  • My next step is to Crop the image to 8:10 ratio and use the Straighten Tool to make sure the image is lined up correctly.
  • Next, I Duplicate Layer to keep a copy of what I’ve just done so I can work non-destructively.
  • Tone Mapping Persona is then used to bring out local contrast and add some crunch. I adjust it so it only affects the shadows.
  • Switching back to Photo Persona I add a LUT Adjustment Layer for colour grading using Blend Modes on the layer to adjust to taste.
  • This is followed by using Place Image to add a texture overlay and set the Blend Mode to affect only the shadows.
  • On a separate layer I use the Inpainting Brush Tool to clean up flyaway hairs, dust, etc.
  • I then Merge Visible to make a new layer that combines all the layers in the file so I can work non-destructively on the next step.
  • Using the Frequency Separation I choose a radius that puts the detail I want to keep on the top layer.
  • I use the Healing Brush Tool on a new layer above the Low Frequency Layer to correct uneven tones in the skin without affecting the texture. I always use separate layers for each correction so that I can adjust opacity individually if needed. I then Merge Visible once again.
  • Finishing up I add Noise to give a film grain effect and add Curves and Levels Adjustment Layers to bring up overall exposure and control the contrast.
  • Finally Save and Export as a JPEG!
The photograph, before and after editing.

If you want to learn more about Ivan and his work check him out on his website Instagram and Headshotcrew.com

You can also read the recent interview we did with Ivan here.