You may not be familiar with the name Brandon Woelfel, but there’s a big chance you’re familiar with his style of photography. Those dreamy, bokeh-filled images dripping with neon colors and rainbow flares? Yep, he made that look popular. If you’ve got the “woes” and want night portraits done the Brandon way, this quick tutorial should do the trick for you.
There are actually a number of photography tutorials that try to mimic the dreamy style of this famous New York City photographer. Some straight out tell you how to “shoot and edit like Brandon Woelfel,” while others put it out under the guise of “bokehlicious night portraits.” Whichever the case, if you’d like to try this style in your next portrait session, Lou Guarneri of Sweet Lou Photography has come up with a humorous take on “how to Brandon Woelfel” with a recent “Lou-torial.” Watch and learn:
Are you over the jokes and puns? Okay, good. Let’s dissect the highlights of his tutorial.
First, the goal of this tutorial is not to completely rip off Brandon’s look just so you too can be Insta-famous. Trust us, people can tell if you do. Learning how it’s done to “amp up your own unique take on it” should be the way to go.
Next, you’ll need a camera with a fast aperture, a model to pose for you, retro-styled glasses, fairy lights, and some shiny stuff like glass prisms or old CDs. Shoot when it’s starting to get dark after sunset (blue hour, as Lou calls it), and look for an urban location with lots of neon and street lights around. As for the how part, shoot your subject with the fairy lights either close to your lens or around your subject. Use the widest aperture of your lens to get that “flabbergasting bokeh.” You can do Lou’s editing trick of using royalty-free photos of bokeh if you don’t have a fast lens.
Once you got some shots you’re satisfied with, it’s time to edit them to make them as Brandon Woelfel as they can get. You can do it on Lightroom or Photoshop, but here, Lou shows us how it’s done with Lightroom. Play around with the Curves and HSL panels, apply Lou’s Brandon Style Lightroom Preset, and “tweak stuff” to your liking. Easy, right?
Check out and subscribe to Lou’s YouTube channel for more of his photography tips and tricks.
Screenshot taken from the video.