Beauty Headshot
by Gary Bernstein -


Susan Lucci - Grey Seamless - Medium Format Color

Swatch Watch of Switzerland met with me prior to launching their product in the United States. I remember laughing to myself during the initial phone discussion as my client described their product as a "plastic, throw-away watch." Did they really think there was a market for this product? I thought. In retrospect, rather than taking a design-and-shoot fee, I should have asked for just a small insignificant piece of the action. I'd be retired today!

Swatch approached me because they had seen a long-running celebrity campaign I was shooting for Jean-Paul Germain. The campaign, which depicted a different celebrity each month, was similar in concept to what Swatch wanted.

Actress Susan Lucci was one of the first celebrities photographed. The principle photography for the session depicted Susan surrounded by a collection of interlaced, hanging watches. At the end of the session, I made a series of glamour head shots of the actress for P.R. use by Swatch and for Susan's personal use as well. This example came from that group of images.

Subject: Susan Lucci
Client: Swatch Watch U.S.A.
Creative Team: Steve Rechtschaffner, Art Director
Location: Rental Studio, New York City
Camera: Hasselblad
Lens: 120mm Zeiss
Lighting: One electronic flash unit in pan reflector
Film: 6 x 6 Kodak Ectachrome El 64
Exposure Metering: Incident
Exposure: 1/250 second at f/8

Simplicity is the key. With Susan on the studio floor, I created the image with one Photogenic light (800-watt/seconds) bounced into a 14-inch pan reflector, mounted on a boom, and placed about four feet in front of the actress. The light recorded an f/8 exposure on Susan's face and fell off two stops to the white seamless background, causing it to record as a beautiful editorial gray.

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