My Portrait photography journey!

The very first chapter!


2 years of exploration, 2 years of trial and error, trying to reach that point where I feel comfortable with what I do and fully enjoy the process. Before I make that next step, the one that will take me to more creative work, here is a brief summary of what I went through, what I was looking for and a short behind the scenes of one of my latest portrait sessions.


It’s a process that sometimes takes years. We all want fast results fast but that’s not how things work. Portraits and headshots at home or in the studio are not my specialty. I did them from time to time before, but always felt much more comfortable doing full body shots or environmental portraits.


For the following images of Clara P. I used a single flash with a collapsible 65cm beautydish and the AD300pro.

Clara ( @clara.is.back ) in Toulouse

Fujifilm GFX100s and GF 250 mm f/4 R LM OIS WR

1/160sec f/4 ISO 50



Clara ( @clara.is.back ) in Toulouse

Fujifilm GFX100s and GF 250 mm f/4 R LM OIS WR

1/160sec f/4 ISO 50



Clara ( @clara.is.back ) in Toulouse

Fujifilm GFX100s and GF 250 mm f/4 R LM OIS WR

1/125sec f/4 ISO 50



And then 2 years ago COVID showed up… and it was the perfect time for me to develop and step up my portrait game.


I tried 2 different approaches: continuous lights and flashes from one to 3 lights!


I soon discovered that using continuous lights wasn’t always the best fit for me. Although I love seeing the effect of my lights on my subject right away, I needed more often than I thought that punch that only strobes could give me.


Depending on the style, the effects I wanted to create, the model and outfits chosen, there was no perfect choice. Unless you have the time to switch from Tube led lights, to COB to flashes, you will pretty much be stuck with a set of looks, once you have chosen the type of lights you will use.


When I want a dark and moody look, and If I don’t need too much power, or when I want to play with colors, RGB tube led lights are great. You can quickly get satisfying results compared to flashes and gels. I used 2 NANlite PavoTube 30c led lights for the following portrait of Jennifer Morelle, and you can find the complete gallery and behind the scenes video of this session here:



If I want to let my model improvise, move and express emotions, I will often choose continuous lights to better direct my model live if needed, and to avoid my flashes to pop every 2 seconds.

Maeva K. during an improvised portrait session last year. The white table top is used to bounce some of the light back to fill in those shadows. My main light placed above our heads is the NANlite Forza500 with a 120 parabolic softbox and a grid.

Behind the scenes video


Almost the exact same setup, during this session with Marie Amélie!

Marie Amélie in Toulouse

CANON R5 and RF 50mm f/1.2

1/200sec f/1.2 ISO 100



When I need a harder light, more contrast, if freezing movement is mendatory, I would choose strobes most of the time. In one of my latest portrait sessions, I went back to using flashes, and if you look closely at some of the images I’ve shown you so far, I often used an overhead light. To avoid those deep shadows in the eye sockets, use a white reflector or a 2nd light.


For the following images of Emma Diloy, I am using the Raja Softboxes by Phottix. I have a 105cm octabox above her head with the GODOX AD300pro and I used a white reflector to slightly fill-in the shadows.

Emma Diloy in Toulouse

CANON R5 and RF 50mm f/1.2

1/200sec f/2 ISO 50



These classic portraits are not hard to replicate. I use 2 to 3 lights. One overhead with the head of a reflector to lift my shadows, or with an additionnal light on the left or right side of my camera. When I want those stripes as a "catch light" in the eyes of my model, I use 2 strip boxes with a grid placed on either side of my camera.


Emma Diloy in Toulouse

CANON R5 and RF 50mm f/1.2

1/200sec f/2 ISO 50



I’ve tried different combinations and since we are discussing portraits I prefer by far when catchlights are visible in at least one of the eyes.


If you wonder after watching the behind the scenes video how I made these light shapes and effects, I am simply using an optical snoot. I alos have a Spotlight, so I will most certainly compare the 2 in a future article.

Emma Diloy in Toulouse

CANON R5 and RF 50mm f/1.2

1/200sec f/1.8 ISO 50



Some of these images have found their way into my portfolio, but they won’t stay there for long because I know I am going to take things a bit further in the months to come. I am now entering the fun part of this exploration which means, more behind the scenes videos and more exciting and inspiring content for the blog!


I will share a bit more about my lighting process for these portraits soon, so stay tuned.