Portraits in cinema have always intrigued me, right from childhood. I have always been fascinated by cinematography and the way scenes were lit, special emphasis on how faces were lit in the black and white era. Brightly lit face, lot of shadow play, a glow and glamor. Portraits was the reason I started photography and have always wanted to light my subjects the way they did it back then.


My friend Bhagat (makkastudios) and I had been talking about this for some time and finally on Jan 13th we decided to give it a try. He is already shooting movies so he has connects with amazing technicians in the cine field. We figured out one such expert for our lighting set up for the Portraits. The team consisted of three models, two make up artists and two friends, Karthik (he shot a roll of Ilford on a Hasselblad 500 CM) and Kiran (who did a BTS video of the shoot).


The key light was an Arri 1.8K Para. It is powerful, does not emanate too much heat and can be connected to the household electrical line. We had a couple of more lights for backlighting the hair and one for the background. The key to this kind of lighting is the cutters used to stop the unwanted spread of light and spill all over. We used plenty of these to ensure we got the lighting of the subjects exactly as we desired. One can also use lenses which come with the lights and slide in front of them on a holder to shape the light, control the spread and intensity.

The advantages of continuous lighting over strobes for Portraits:


  • No issues with camera sync speed, hi speed sync etc
  • No problems with recycling time and color inconsistency
  • No need of triggers
  • Multiple people can shoot simultaneously
  • What you see is what you get
  • Yields much better to light shaping and gives more flexibility


We shot the entire series with the Fujifilm GFX 50R and a couple of lenses. A few shots were with the Leica SL. We used the 110mm f2 and the 45 f2.8 GFX lenses.



I also shot a few with the 50R attached to the back of the Linhof Technika with a Fotodiox Adapter.




Models: Pavithra, Jikki, Suruthi

Make up: Lavanya, Vetri

Let me know what you think of this set up and experiment.

Read more about the Fuji 50R and Large Format experiments here.