A Pursuit in Editorial Photography

There are lessons I learned throughout this project and I am thrilled to have this opportunity to share that story with you. These photos are a result of a collaborative journey between multiple creative minds.

Part I: Inspiration

The designer, Bianca Armer, and I were classmates at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. We came together to brainstorm ideas for her collection’s campaign launch. It was important for us to concisely identify the art direction early on so we can communicate that end goal to the rest of the design team.

For every photograph I create, I aim to achieve 3 goals: definitive lighting, multidimensional color rendering, and strong graphic design.

1. Definitive Lighting:

I seek the most inspiration from Renaissance paintings to replicate chiaroscuro. I find it extraordinary the way painters like Rembrandt or Caravaggio use light to sculpt form.

An Old Man in Red, by Rembrandt and Rembrandt Lighting, photo by www.3dvf.com

An Old Man in Red, by Rembrandt and Rembrandt Lighting, photo by www.3dvf.com

2. Multidimensional Color Rendering

I work to master the techniques of my photography heroes: Stanley Kubrick, Steve McCurry and Joe Pugliese. The depth of their rich and velvety colors carry a profound sense of story that captivates my eyes. They maintain and highlight the fidelity for textures, hence why skin tones look good in their portraits.

Film still from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. Photographs by Steve McCurry & Joe Pugliese.

Film still from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. Photographs by Steve McCurry & Joe Pugliese.

3. Strong Graphic Design

Bianca’s design and taste have a graphical element to them, which is evidenced across the moodboards she created. I reverse-engineered the light in the photos to use as a starting point to create my own lighting schematics.

Moodboards created by Bianca Armer

Moodboards created by Bianca Armer

Part II: Production Planning & Execution

Jingna Zhang did a phenomenal course that can walk you through production on Learn Squared. Maciej Kuciara’s Tears in Rain is a good project to study from.

This project was my first for studio lighting, color gels and working with a professional team. The most challenging part was working against a plain backdrop and not having an environment to rely on for graphic elements. I created that with posing, color and lighting instead.


I decided to use continuous lighting instead of strobes for confidence and quality assurance. Gnomon’s open access to the abundance of resources available on campus was how I managed to get my hands on fancy lighting equipment: 4 x Mole Richardson 2k, 2 x Lowel Omni Barndoors, 2 x Lowel Tota Light, Chinaball, Rosco Color Effects Filters

Having too many lights was inefficient and difficult to manage for a 10 hour shoot. It also made it tough for Alexis, the model. I am most grateful for my team’s patience that allowed for my trial and errors.



When photographing people, I prioritize on capturing the person’s facial expression. The essence in their eyes must be the first and foremost focus of the photo. Following that, I composite the shot by framing the negative space surrounding them. I chase areas with an interesting mix of shadows, light and shape.

IMG_3984 (1).jpg

Part III: Post-Production

This part is where I have my most eureka moments. My technical production & team management skills evolve steadily over consistent practice, but the editing process is where I feel the most creative power to bring things to life.

Jonathan Berube, VFX Concept Artist at Lightstorm Entertainment, did a guest lecture for Alex Alvarez’s Overview of VFX class. When demonstrating his architecture of success, he spoke about the power of habits and how he edits 1 photo repeatedly everyday to train his eye. He never misses a day and this progress turns into mileage. After following that, I was able to mainstream my editing process.

Resources I use for color and lighting:

Color Correction Handbook and Lookbook, Alex Van Jurkman

Study of Poses, Steve Sebring & Coco Rocha

The Stanley Kubrick Archives, Alison Castle

National Geographic and Drift Magazines


Here are some major takeaways I learned from this project:

- When working on group projects, getting heavily involved with overseeing the entire process makes the work all that more rewarding. It’s important to make sure everyone else on the team feels just as on board as well.

- If you have never done studio lighting before, it’s common to get intimidated and overwhelmed by all the technicalities. It helps to first focus on the light’s color, temperature and intensity. Simplifying this will aid you in learning any new lighting tool on the spot.


And that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed reading my article! Thanks to my friends who encouraged me to participate in The Rookies, it’s been a great journey connecting with so many inspiring students around the world!

Location: The Gnomon Stage
Photographer: Lanli Su
D.I.T: Christian Soriano
Lighting Assistant: Stephanie Vu
Model: Alexis Mackenzie
Wardrobe: Bianca Armer & Evan Patula
MUA: Victoria Pedro
Hair: Peggy Hargrave & Marissa Ybarra

Final Images