This is one of my favorite portraits from my recent studio lighting class. Jim's an excellent photographer in his own right, and, since we didn't have any professional models signed up to work with us, graciously agreed to pose for some of the other members of the class. He and another student were playing around with a pair of lights, one of them a softbox set up camera right, the other an umbrella light almost directly behind the camera. They weren't very satisfied with the results, so I suggested moving the umbrella to camera-left. The results were striking: suddenly the images "popped," almost three-dimensionally, out of the frame. Our instructor, Jack Kegley, wandered by and suggested we improve the image still further by "flagging" the umbrella light so that less of it struck the white background, thus creating more tonal separation from the subject. I'm very pleased with the result. Besides the great lighting, I also love Jim's bright shirt and jacket and the way the colors saturate the image; the great detail I was able to get in his beard and hair (thank you, 50mm prime lens!); and the nice catch lights in his eyes. I'm pleased that there isn't any reflection on the glasses, either. And I even like that he's not grinning into the camera -- the indirect, more thoughtful look is a nice alternative.
Here's the fully-flagged photo. I do like the separation it provides from the background, but I think the expression and catchlights are better in the first image:
And, for good measure, one with a smile. What do you think? Is the smile better than the more thoughtful look above?