Neil Rittle: Portrait Session

I recently had the pleasure of having my friend Neil over for a portrait session. He has a great look to him and I wanted to try out a couple different lighting setups to see what we could come up with. 

Neil is one of my favorite guys in the world. He's a comedian, a single dad with the coolest kid ever, and is one of the most outgoing and humble people I've ever met. I've known him a little over a year now and wanted to get him some portraits that he could use for his own comedy brand, but also have images that tell a story and give a peek into how great a dude he is.

To start off, I set up a roll of black seamless paper and an Alien Bee with beauty dish set directly overhead to give a dramatic look, and I had Morgan sit in to test out what it looked like.

Morgan92 1.jpg

Needless to say, it was a little TOO dramatic, and adding reflectors and lights to fill in the shadows didn't really produce an image that I was happy with, so we diverted to plan B.

I moved the beauty dish back to more of a rim light position directly behind and up 45º, and then added a silver umbrella to my Paul C Buff White Lightning strobe. This gave more of a standard 2-light set up, but still gave us a classic and striking portrait. 


I was shooting my 5D Mark iv tethered into Capture One Pro. After being a Lightroom guy most of my career, I've started using Capture One exclusively for studio sessions. The coloring and image processing is just so dang good, and tethering is lightning fast. 

Once Neil showed up, we had the lighting setup ready, so now it was just about making him feel comfortable and getting a few different expressions out of him. We threw on some music and just started chatting. 

I loved what we came up with.


After shooting for a bit, I noticed how the lighting looked with just our two floor lamps on with the TV adding some ambient light on the right side as well. Just for fun-sies, I turned off the strobes and shot with my 85mm and got this image:

From there, we brought out my ring light and did some close up portraits. I love the look of this light and it always yields the most striking images.


To finish out the shoot, we moved Neil over to the white wall and just put a silver umbrella in front of him.


Here are some of the last shots we took before ending the session:


I love how a 2-light and single light setup is so simple, but can produce such a variety of shots to work with. You can expose brighter and get some nice crisp shots, and then turn around and expose darker and get really moody looks without changing anything in your setup.

In this 2 hour session, we got about 4 different looks and over 80 final images. 

Check out Neil on Instagram, @neilrittle , and my wife Morgan, @morgan_fite