Men Are Easy – Part 3
A Photo Session with Charles Agron

By Gary Bernstein

The Two Previous Articles in the Series: Men Are Easy - Part 1
& Men Are Easy - Part 2

Last column we ended with a shot of leading man Charles Agron.

Charles was photographed at a home location for a total of maybe two hours.  He needed images for an actor’s composite.  No hair or makeup (I don’t like hair or makeup for men—let ‘em do their own).  He brought a few different wardrobe changes.  I did the shoot with one camera ( ), one zoom lens (an 18-55 zoom), 2 lights (hotlights) and 1 reflector (naturally, it was the Gary Bernstein model at (  The images were recorded on Lexar media cards (

Let’s look at a few of the images and how they were made:

Charles Agron - Actor

Shot 1.

The images in this column represent perhaps one-half of the looks we shoot in a two hour session.  This is what portrait-headshot photography is about; a lot of good looks in a short period of time—a consequence of learning how to see the light—and being able to capture on film (pixels) what you envisioned in your mind’s eye.  The other reason these pictures look good is because (face it), Charles is a leading man.

Men are easier to photograph than women.  You count on it.  The light is more forgiving.  Often harsh light or angular light brings out a character in men that would be totally unacceptable in the photography of women.  The same is true of camera angles. 

Shot 1 was made with Charles sitting about 3 feet inside of a doorway illuminated by the natural light that was streaming in.  What could be easier!  By the way, the “lean” of his body is important.  Leaning to the lower shoulder creates a decidedly masculine look (while leaning a man to the higher shoulder is…well…not as masculineJ).  Try it—you’ll see what I mean…however that lean to the higher shoulder is perfect for your sister.

Charles Agron - Model

Shot 2.

Do I pose pictures?  Not really.  I suggest.  I often take the place of my subject and say “here, sit like this” and “try looking this way or that way.”  It usually works.  I do it for men.  I do it for women (and I don’t feel that my masculinity suffers in the process).  Shot number 2 is a two light shot:   One 250 watt hotlight in a small umbrella (about 24-inches) to the right of camera that eliminates the shadows in the background; and a second main light slightly to camera left lighting Charles (who is seated on a spiral staircase).  This is a “hero” shot—the low camera angle is what does it.

Charles Agron

Shot 3.

As for attitude—I get it out of my subjects.  With some it’s easier than with others.  Charles is easy.  He’s an actor, and he can turn it on at will and make it believable—because he believes it.  He’s been taught by the best (a woman I know as well as I know my own wife).  Shot 3 is taken in mid-day sunlight, under a porch umbrella, with one small 250 watt hotlight on a stand to camera left.  The light is place at 9:00—which would be too low for most women, but works fine with guys.  The background is illuminated by the sunlight.

Charles Agron

Shot 4.

Shot 4 was made sitting at the same picnic table, in the same location as Shot 3—15 minutes later after a wardrobe change.  It’s my denim shirt, and don’t let Charles tell you differently.  In this case 2 hotlights were used to camera left (a very strong one below the face—giving a bit of underlight (and even that’s OK with masculine faces)).  A Bernstein-Chimera reflector fills in to camera right.

Shot 5.

Another technique was used for Shot 5.  It’s hard overhead sunlight with Charles standing in the shadow of a tree.  He is illuminated solely with the Bernstein-Chimera reflector—coming in from a high angle above the lens of the camera.  Pretty cool, huh?  He looks like a count at an Italian Villa (at least that’s what I envisioned while making the image).

Shot 6.

We finished up back inside for this shot.  Another wardrobe change and an example of achieving a two-light look with but a single light and a reflector.  The hot 250 watt spot is place behind Charles delivering that edge and hair light, as a silver reflector illuminates his face (that is bouncing the light back into his face).  A fun technique—very simple—very effective.  The nice thing about hot lights?  You get to see precisely what you’re getting.  The nice thing about digital?  You get to see precisely what you’re getting.  The nice thing about showing the images to your clients as you shoot?  They get to see precisely what they’re getting, and they get turned on, so they work even harder in front of the camera—and that helps you!

Tony Danza

When it comes to prints, I do my own, and of late have told you more and more of my printing escapades and experiences.  I’m a Photoshop guy (taught myself) and for Charles I printed 8.5 x 11’s on glossy paper.  My images are typically printed full-frame (as are all the images shown here—just as they were recorded when captured). 

I’ve been using the HP 8750 printer, but this week I got to play with a new toy—an advance look at the new HP Photosmart 9180.  Oh my goodness!  Never (that’s NEVER) have I seen quality like this.  The 9180 is a pigment printer—eight individual pigment cartridges (I felt like da Vinci) with archival prints beyond 200 years.  The results are truly awesome.  I will tell you more about this beauty as I experiment more with it.  By the way, it also prints on canvas and water-color paper  And with the quality of these prints, it’s indeed time to plug my framer (of the past 30 years)—Levin Frames (the best) Check ‘em out at  

We’ll end with the Bernstein classic of the month…

A look at a Tony Danza cover for Orange Coast Magazine (the OC, Baby).  Notice he is tipping his head to the lower shoulder.  The image made with 2 strobes (one on Tony, one on the background), and a Hasselblad with a 150mm Zeiss lens (

See you soon, and at my homes away from homewww.ZugaPhoto.TV
All Photographs © 2006 Gary Bernstein

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