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Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week | Rangefinder

For the past four weeks, we have been celebrating eye-catching portraits and photos that were awarded first, second or third place in WPPI’s Second Half competition. Here, we wrap up our month-long spotlight with more winning images and their back stories. Discover the entire gallery of winners, and take a look at our weekly featured photo series.

Australian wedding photographer Ben Connolly‘s image “Two of a Kind” won First Place in the Wedding Creative category of Second Half’s Creative Division. He says it was initially shot in a sequence of three images for the bride’s wedding album. “It looked great in the trio but I felt it needed more punch,” he recalls. “A past mentor told me, ‘the more dress the better’ and since the photo has a sexy feeling to it with the bride’s back showing, I decided to flip her to see more of the dress and convey more of that feeling.”

Once the image was in post, Connolly cleaned up the photo just a touch by softening her skin, sharpening her dress and adding the warm pink/red haze coming through the shutters to replicate very warm sunset light. “I had no clear idea on what I was planning with the photo,” he admits. “Once the colors really popped and it looked more eye-catching and striking, that’s when I decided to flip her.” That simple photoshop process, he explains, involved making a new document and adding a left facing and right facing image on it and picking a center line that worked.

Connolly says this color version of his winning black-and-white image (in gallery at top) feels more striking to him. “With color, it feels warm and classic but with a twist, its sexy but its not blatant and it almost feels like a moment of modesty captured without any direction. The black and white obviously removes the color bias, leaving you with just the moment that is there and for me, it takes my eye to her expression, her body and her dress to highlight all that without any other distractions. © Ben Connolly

The photo remained a color image for a full year; then Connolly entered it with a full black-and-white album into the Asia WPA First Half Competition where the album took first place. “It was then that I decided to enter the photo independently in black and white into the WPPI Second Half Competition. “Its a special image for me because it showcases the raw beauty of my subject and that’s something I try my very best to bring out at every wedding.”

[Read: 9 Things You Need to Develop A Signature Photography Style and Aesthetic]

Elizabeth Lang, a family portrait photographer in Cloverdale, British Columbia, has always been captivated by the simplicity of a face framed by fabric, timeless beauty and femininity. “It makes me think of old paintings of women draped in flowing fabric,” she says. “I am always trying to find ways to bring the things I love about portrait photography into my newborn sessions and that’s what I wanted to do here.”

For her image “Tiny Mother”, which won Third Place in the “Newborn + Baby” category of WPPI Second Half’s Portrait Division, Lang employed a very simple setup. “It’s perfect for a young child—the sister was laying on her stomach propped up by her elbows with her baby sister cradled in her arms. I draped a scarf around them and my light was camera right on low power, for a peaceful mood and feeling. I love this image because I feel the fabric and the dark backdrop pull the attention onto the sisters. The power of their bond is unmistakable.”

[Read: The Creative Photographer’s Guide to Self Portraits With Kids]

Danny Martinez of Sylk Martí Studios in Chicago, wanted to convey drama, power, brotherhood and protection with “What You Looking At”, which Third Place in the “Bridal Party: Family and Friends” category of the Wedding Division.

“The concept came to mind because of the personalities of the groom with his groomsmen,” says Martinez. “They all had this love, protection and playfulness with the groom that I really wanted to convey. As soon as the grooms all picked up cigars, I knew the image needed to have a strong masculine pose representing dominance. Being inspired by the posing work of Jerry Ghionis and Roberto Valenzuela, just to name a few, I quickly realized I needed the pose to be more than just guys standing in a straight line on the stairs.”

According to Martinez, execution was the hardest part of this image. “We were a bit behind schedule and I had only 5 to 7 minutes to pick my angle, pose everyone in the proper spots while choosing what pose they would do. Then I had to figure out where the light fit best to light everyone well.”

He says that when it came to posing the men, he started with the groom and placed him in the middle. “I then wanted to pose two of the groomsmen on the railing. Once I had a foundation to work with, I added the two guys behind the other groomsmen to fill in that back area. Then all I needed to do was fill in the ends and the front of the groom.” Martinez didn’t want the groomsmen to cover the groom, so he decided to sit them in slightly different angles. He also wanted to make sure the cigar, another important element, was viewable.

Adds Martinez: “I knew from experience that if I feathered my key light and let the bottom edge of the Octabox hit my subjects, I wouldn’t get a ton of spill light hitting the stairs. I wanted some separation from the background and create more dimension in the image so I put the rim light behind the groomsman, who was on the railing, camera left pointed towards the groom. By pointing the rim light towards the groom, it created a beautiful side light on him as well as the groomsmen around him.”

Roberta Montagnini, a portrait photographer based in Yorktown, Virginia, who specializes in boudoir, seniors, family, maternity, and more, says that every time she create personal projects, she tries to evoke a mood or a feeling in her concepts. Her image “Becoming” won Second Place in the “Individual” category of the Portrait Division.

For this image, of subject Keeley, Montagnini was looking for someone she could test out her new lens on. “This concept was planned on the spot and it often happens to me after I get to know the person in front of my lens for a bit. It is so exciting when that happens! The image is titled ‘Becoming’ because it symbolizes the transition from teen to becoming a woman and marking that time in the girl/woman’s life. I wanted the image to have a very delicate and perhaps almost innocent feeling to it, hopeful for the future, reflecting her femininity but also showcasing her strength and poise.”

Montagnini created the headpiece—as she does most, if not all, of her props— and the outfit is from her wardrobe collection. “I like being in control of every aspect of everything I photograph, from creating props to styling, makeup, tones and pose. The lighting is my signature style as well—I love dramatic lighting that enhances the shape and form of my subjects.”

“An Old Soul” by Dallas, Texas, photographer Shawna Hinkel of Wanderlust Fine Artistry won Third Place in the “Animal + Pets” category of Second Half’s Portrait Division.

“I love animals and thought it would be fun to go alone to the zoo with my camera and see what inspired me,” says Hinkel. “I spent a couple of hours with the chimpanzees, and found them to be entertaining and expressive. I also learned quickly that patience was key. The natural light was perfect that morning, and this beautiful female finally struck a good pose in a great spot. I love her thoughtful expression and how spending time with them really makes you see how similar we are. I love the details in her features, fingers, and fur. I love that you can feel her soul.”

Hinkel further explains that this image was actually the beginning of her “Almost Human” series, an ongoing project that explores “the eyes and expressions of these magnificent creatures. looking for the souls in our most closely-related counterparts. Chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans are so much like us that if you spend a little time with them, you can almost tell what they are feeling.”

Since that day at the zoo, Hinkel says she has spent a lot of time with chimpanzees and other primates all over the world. “Each day brings something new.”

The post Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week appeared first on Rangefinder.

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