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How I Got the Shot: 2021 Personal Branding Photos

Branding is important for any photographer, and with 2020 behind us, I thought it best to update my own personal branding with some new profile photos across all of my socials. This is how I got the shots.

I like to take a new self-portrait now and again, just to try out lighting setups and such without the pressure of a model/client/what have you. They usually don't see the light of day. This time, however, I wanted to do a full social overhaul, so the photos needed to be high-end, eye-catching, and, most importantly, me. They had to have my style all over them. 

So, I went through my work, pulled out some photos I liked, and boiled the photos down to two words that I felt described my "style": spotlights and color. I absolutely adore throwing in as much color as I can into a photo, and I also love putting a small light right where I want the viewers' attention to be pulled. So, let's break down this photo, shall we?

Gear

The gear I used for this shot is pretty simple. I used two Cactus RF60's and one RF60x. One was shooting through a small snoot, another was firing through a 90cm parabolic umbrella, and the last was using just a regular shoot-through umbrella. The reason I was using the deep parabolic instead of another shoot-through umbrella is simply that the parabolic was already set up, and I was lazy, if I'm totally honest. Camera-wise, I used a Fujifilm X-T3 with the fantastic 16-55mm f/2.8 at 16mm and wide open at 2.8. 

The Setup

To set up my lights, I used one of my favorite programs, Set.A.Light 3D, which allows you to quickly and easily test, adjust, and sketch out your lighting, saving you lots of time and headaches in production. I set up the umbrella to camera left, reflecting off of the wall and using a red gel to have all act as a giant softbox. I set up the parabolic camera right with a blue gel for a similar effect, giving me a split lighting effect. Lastly, I set up the snoot about four feet from myself with no gel, giving me a clean, white spotlight on my face.

The lighting setup and result from within Set.A.Light 3D

As you can see, the sketch I made in Set.A.Light and the actual shot are a little different, but they are remarkably close. 

Post Production

The last step of any photograph is post-production. I wanted three final photos for this image, one for my personal Facebook, one for my professional socials, and one for my Instagram timeline. So, during culling, I was keeping those in mind. The two for my profile pictures would be closeups and the one for my timeline would be my favorite shots of the whole set; the wide is the one I am breaking down in this article. 

Above are the two images I use for my profile photos: simple, eye-catching, images that scream "David J. Fulde shot these." 

In the post, after culling, came color correction. It was a simple act of moving the blues a bit more teal and the reds a bit more magenta, so they weren't so extreme. I then lifted the blacks a little, did some post-production magic, and came up with this: 

The final image
The final image was born! 

Conclusion

As you can see, taking a stylish, signature, self-portrait doesn't require too much work, especially if you pre-visualize it with software. Post-production doesn't have to be too extreme, and you can make a stunning photo that screams "you" in just a short afternoon. Are you planning on upgrading your socials in 2021? I'd love to see your new profile photos in the comments below!

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