Creating the Photograph: Danny Alexander’s “Pink Rose”

Creating the Photograph is an original series where photographers teach you about how they conceived an image, shot it, and edited it. The series has a heavy emphasis on teaching readers how to light. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

Photographer Danny Alexander has tagged us in a number of his images on Instagram and we discovered him and his great strobist work this way. He’s a portrait photographer working in Louisville, KY. “I’ve slowly been turning my passion into a full time job and my work can be found in local and nationally published magazines,” says Danny. “Although I spend most of my time shooting editorial portraits, I do make time to work on creative personal projects. If I had to say I had a style in photography it would be that I take a strobist approach.” That’s perfect for our Creating the Photograph series.

In fact, Danny rarely works with just natural light. “I love the technical side of working with strobes to create interesting lighting in my portraits.” he states.

So that’s where the story of Pink Rose begins.


The Concept

I met Rose through our mutual friend, Matt Goodlett when she needed a photographer to help update her portfolio. Matt is an amazing make-up artist that I’ve worked with in the past on several projects so of course I agreed to the shoot as I wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to work with him again. Rose does promo work for several companies including some that sell vaping supplies so part of the shoot needed to include Rose vaping. Looking at vaping pictures I knew I wanted to do something a bit different than normal and since I love working with gels my first thought was adding color to the vape cloud. For some reason I actually abandoned the idea before the shoot and below is an example of what the vape cloud photos looked like without a gel. It’s a fine enough portrait but it is just sort of ordinary. It wasn’t until Matt suggested the same idea I had abandoned that I knew I had made a mistake in not going through with the concept from the beginning.

The Gear

  • Nikon D810
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.8
  • 2x Alien Bee B400
  • YongNuo YN-560 III
  • Savage Fashion Grey background
  • Paul C. Buff 22” White Beauty Dish
  • Paul C. Buff 30° grid
  • Paul C. Buff 64” PLM

The Shoot

Again, I had abandoned the idea beforehand, so I didn’t actually bring along the gear I would have wanted to do this. By a stroke of luck, I did have a pink gel from a previous shoot still in my camera bag that was cut to fit the 8” reflector on an Alien Bee. My Alien Bees were in use as key in the beauty dish and as fill in the PLM umbrella so I grabbed my YongNuo YN-560 III to gel. Next step was finding a way to control the light from the YongNuo flashgun better. Without a snoot, the flashgun was going to send light everywhere which was exactly where I didn’t want it be. A quickly torn square from the Savage paper background and some tape helped fashion a snoot with the flashgun on one side and the gel on the other.

Last was placement of the flashgun itself. First I had it on a light stand pointed in the area Rose was going to blow the cloud. Although this did add color to the cloud it also threw color onto the backdrop. I then sat the flash gun on the floor in front of Rose pointed up. This threw color into the cloud, with only a minimal amount spilling which didn’t end up being terribly noticeable. With a paper snoot that was quickly collapsing in on itself I figured I couldn’t really ask for any better. We did a few shots, lined up where Rose needed to blow the cloud over the flashgun, and got our finished portrait.

Post Production

Post was fairly minimal but did include correcting exposure slightly and a small amount of skin retouching. With a make-up artist like Matt on set, retouching is easy and quick as the model already looks near flawless.





Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.