Creating the Photograph: Rob Lee’s “The Ice Queen”

Creating the Photograph is an original series where photographers teach you about how they concepted 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 Rob Lee describes himself as a Massachusetts based portrait photographer. Rob got into photography when his son was much younger, and that grew and evolved into his interest in live concert photography. Then it evolved into portraiture which he describes as trying to balance both beauty and darkness. Indeed, he’s a man that likes the darker side of culture–as do many others. So a part of that was the inspiration behind his photo, “The Ice Queen.”

Despite its simple look, this image is a very clever use of light, reflectors and colors to make this scene effective. Here’s Rob’s story.


The Concept

I’ve been wanting to work with a professional MUA for sometime now and reached out to Jennifer Viveiros about collaborating on a shoot. Most of my work is darker/goth styled and she usually does makeup for weddings but she mentioned she wanted to add a little “edge” to her portfolio so she was excited for us to work together.

Once she said that I reached out to the model, Ashley Mae, to see if she would be interested and she was. Ashley and myself have worked quite a few times and we both have a good understanding of what look we’re both going for.

The three of us agreed on this Ice Queen concept because it would showcase my style, an edgier makeup look for Jennifer and Ashley’s ability to transform into a fierce but elegant queen while showcasing her handmade headpiece.


  • Sony A7 ii
  • Sony 24-70mm 2.8 G Master
  • Flashpoint Streaklight 360 above pointed down in beauty dish and grid
  • Flashpoint R2 in Rogue grid behind model pointed up
  • Reflector at waist level of model for fill

The Shoot

Model: Ashley Mae

MUA: Jennifer M Viveiros

Heapiece and wardrobe: Ashley Mae

The shoot was in my home studio in Massachusetts. I purchased some fake fur and hung it on the wall for the wider shots to add some contrast. I gave full control of the makeup to Jennifer and we were all excited to see her finished work. As a photographer I like to let the models do their own poses and just let Ashley do her thing. I tried to get as many closeup shots as possible to showcase the makeup and Ashley’s eyes so I used a reflector for fill and shot wide open for an ethereal feel. Allowing for her hair to fade into the backdrop.

My key light was my Streaklight 360 in a beauty dish and grid which was above the model pointed down into the reflector. I added a Flashpoint R2 in the Rogue grid and pointed it up to light the background and the back of Ashley’s head.

Post Production

I always import into Lightroom and do minor adjustments. For this shoot I smoothed out the skin by lowering the clarity and raising the highlights. Then I sharpened the eyes and added some clarity to the iris which really showed and captured what Jennifer was able to do with the makeup. Then I exported to Alien Skin Exposure X2 and picked one of the Faded presets and did some minor tweaks. I love using Exposure X2 because I can get pretty close to the older film looks that I prefer over the digital look.




Chris Gampat

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