Salvatore Mancini | Celebration of Age

We ended up at this event in such a strange way. I had an idea kicking around in my head for about a half of a year where I wanted to partner up with a senior home of some type and bring our studio gear to their place and do portraits of all the residents. I wanted to do it as personal work – just a project that I thought would be good for the community.


I had contacted a few places but strangely enough couldn’t find any takers. I was surprised, since I wasn’t asking for anything in return. I got discouraged and pretty much gave up on the idea. After some time passed my buddy Steph (of Stephanie Mills Photography) shot me a message asking if I wanted to do some portraits for the Salvatore Mancini Center’s Celebration of Age event. She wasn’t able to do it due to other obligations and once I found out what it was I was totally game for it.


It’s an event that they have every year to honor anybody in the community over the age of ninety. They come and bring a family member and they serve them lunch, have some entertainment, and play some games. They also get a portrait of themselves on the way in (which is where I come in). I was pumped. I enlisted the help of my good friend Breanna to assist for the shoot and we lugged the studio gear to the center. We set up shop in the lobby and next thing we knew the seniors were coming through the door and sitting for their photo.


It was fun. It was interesting. It was humbling. These people have lived so many years and experienced so much in their lifetime. They’ve gone through so much, many of them experiencing extremely hard times and also some of life’s most exciting highs. A lot of them were great to interact with, many of them still sharp as when they were twenty.


We used a grey seamless backdrop, a white reflector camera left, a gridded speedlight on the background pointing up, and the key light was a socked 22″ white beauty dish with an Einstein making the light for us. I’m really happy with the look of the shots. If we had some more room they would have come out a touch better. We weren’t able to separate the subjects from the background as much as I would have liked. Consequently the key light was spilling onto the backdrop a bit.


Technical imperfections aside, I’m happy with and proud of this collection of photos. I hope they mean a lot to the families that received them (we provided a complimentary 5×7 to each attendee) for a lot of years to come. Check out the images. Every face tells a story. Thanks for letting us be a part of your event, and hopefully we can do it again next year!

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Nicole | Providence Headshots

We love keeping in touch and working again with our brides after their wedding! Nicole works in law and is doing her own thing with her business. She wanted to get some professional headshots to use for the website and other promotional material. I was happy to bring a studio to her house and set up shop.


I brought a grey seamless backdrop and some lights, a stool, of course my camera, and anything else I thought we’d need to a good headshot session. Once I set up we went to work trying to capture different looks and expressions for her so she had a good variety to choose from.


Love this kind of thing and I’m really happy with the look of the shots. Need some headshots for your business? Acting career? LinkedIn? Just because you like pictures of yourself? Shoot us an email!
Check out some of them below:

Teacher of the Year Laura | RI Studio Headshots

Laura is a good friend of mine who works as an art teacher in North Providence. She just happened to win teacher of the year at her school and is now prepping to enter into the citywide contest. From there she’ll go to regionals, then nationals, then wear the teacher of the year crown until next year.


Part of her application packet was a headshot requirement. This is where I come in. She said a black background was fine so Saturday afternoon I started setting up some lighting in the basement with a black backdrop. I then proceeded to annoy Tara by making her sit there while I adjusted everything. She lost interest after awhile and I resorted to the self-timer and running into the scene to try a self-portrait. She then came back and helped me out a little more.


When Laura showed up, the whole setup was ready to go. The photo session took literally four minutes. We dumped the photos to my computer, picked the one she liked most, and then we sat together while I edited. It was kind of fun to edit while the person was sitting right there. Her shirt was actually hot pink in real life, but we changed it to blue because we both thought it looked better. Scroll down for some behind the scenes info.


Rhode Island Studio Headshots - Laura


A little behind the scenes for you photographer nerds out there (and you strobists) – All the lighting was done with speedlights. Below you can see the setup. #1 is an SB600 on a boom with a shoot through umbrella, #2 is a bare optically triggered YN560, #3 is a junky bare Sunpak, #4 is a bare SB600 behind Laura’s head pointing back at the camera, and #5 is a piece of white foam board carefully balanced on our laundry basket and our deep freezer basket to fill in some shadows from below. As for the rest of the stuff in the picture, well, I’d like to see how clean your basement is. Please notice the professional seating device – an old CRT TV. I would have liked to have her stand, but the ceilings are too low to set the lights up for a standing adult. Three lights were triggered with wireless triggers and #2 was optically slaved (I ran out of triggers).


As you can see, we don’t have a real studio space, but this should serve as an example of how you can make do with what you’ve got to get pretty good results. Speedlights used correctly can look like you’re using much larger studio strobes. Experiment!


Rhode Island Studio Headshots - Laura


Rhode Island Studio Headshots - Laura


Rhode Island Studio Headshots - Laura


Rhode Island Studio Headshots - Laura


one face (but it’s a good one)

i have lights and i’m not afraid to use them. i am, however, hesitant to use them with paying clients in ways i’ve never tried before. enter jaclyn, my friend who was gracious enough to lend me her time and face.

jaclyn, her husband nate, and their mini-human mykenzie came over for dinner one night and we shoveled some homemade pizza and ice cream down our throats before pulling out the camera gear and makeup. earlier that day i had set up my studio strobes and a seamless white background in what is usually the porch, but that night (and other nights) served as the impromptu studio space.

i’ve been wanting to give tethered shooting a try, meaning when you press the shutter button the photo goes directly to a computer so you can see it on the big screen. i ended up really liking it because it’s much easier to see how the shots are looking on a computer screen versus the three inch screen on the back of the camera. it was especially helpful when trying to make fine adjustments to the lighting setup. anywho, i digress.

my goal was to get a few good head shots that were cropped really tightly. i wanted to to get variety from the lighting, not the posing. jaclyn made one face, which we affectionately referred to as ‘the face’. it was a good face. the one shot below where she’s using a different face was really a shot i grabbed while she was laughing at one of my many extremely clever jokes.

i backlit this shot with two full power strobes, one on either side and both angled toward the back of her head. shooting into the strobes gave me the lens flare that you see. there was hardly no post production work on this shot, it’s pretty much right out of camera.

this next shot was the one that i thought was going to be my favorite. i spent the most editing time on this one, only to realize that my actual favorite of the night was a different shot that only required 45 minutes of editing. go figure. note ‘the face’ in action for this shot and the one above, just different lighting. this shot had a full power strobe directly behind her head, bare bulb. the other strobe was at about a 45 in front of her with a shoot-through umbrella.

and lastly, my pick of the night:

i like it because it’s clean, bright, and the pose is natural. i was making her be serious most of the time, but maybe i should’ve let her smile more. when ya got a good thing, you should use it, right?

i’m happy with the results and i’m grateful to jaclyn for sitting through all the pictures. i’m even more thankful to nate for hanging around with mykenzie while we shot. i’m even more thankful to tara for making ice cream.

my toughest, most beautiful client [studio shots]

people have said to me from time to time – “tara (my wife) must have so many photos of herself” or something along those lines. people assume that she is my test subject for a new piece of gear or something. she is not.

tara, contrary to popular assumption, does not enjoy sitting in front of my camera. or standing, or any other human posture. it’s not that she hates getting her picture taken, rather she doesn’t really enjoy getting it taken by me for some reason. part of it is probably because i take advantage of the fact that i can have her sit there for indefinite amounts of time while i tweak something just so or think about what i want to do next. trying out a new lighting setup? the natural inclination would be to have your wife act as subject for you. typical scenario? grab a chair and find stuff laying around to stack on it. i’ve probably taken more pictures of paint cans and cordless drills than i have of tara. maybe.

so the other day she came groveling, begging, and pleading for me to take a photo of her for her blog profile (at least that’s the way i remember it). being the kind husband i am, i obliged. i set up the studio equipment and we got to work. shooting to get one image is kind of freeing because the focus is more on nailing one shot rather than coming away with 25 good ones. here’s one:

she picked this after going through all the pictures, so i got to work right away with the editing (not that she needed any editing, of course). we stuck it up on her blog and… “i hate it, it’s terrible”. of all the pictures i’ve taken, only my wife has given me that reaction. start over. she picked another picture and i went back to step 1 with the editing. thankfully, second time around, the reaction was a little more positive. here’s the winner:

i feel compelled to show some outtakes from the shoot. here is tara in mid-sneeze. everybody likes a good action shot. note her, while sneezing, still giving me instructions (the raised finger telling me not to shoot, which i ignored).

here’s tara when she was auditioning for playing cousin it in the new addams family movie. isn’t she beautiful?

really though, i had a good time (not sure about tara) and i was glad to be able to help her out. typically she shuns me away in favor of taking her own pictures with her point-and-shoot. definitely keeps me humble. i think i’m in love.

check out tara’s blog at rest assured, she’s a better blogger than i am.