Design Thinking, Music Listening & Photo Shooting

Imitating two contemporary masters of portrait photography: Nadav Kander and Rankin

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"

As you might already know, I'm studying Graphic Design & Art Direction at NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti). Last week our Computer Graphics instructor gave us a new assignment to improve our Photoshop skills: replicate the style of an established photographer. We could also choose to shoot and process our own photographs instead of working with images found on the web. That's precisely what I did – I never miss out on an opportunity to head into our university's photo studio and have some fun setting up the lighting and shooting away. I had a fair amount of time to think about whose style I wanted to replicate, so I went through a massive list of photographers to nail down the choices that would have been more interesting. In the end I settled on the very first photographers who came to mind when our teacher explained the new assignment: Rankin and Nadav Kander, two world-famous artists based in London, both contemporary masters of portraiture, each with their own distinct style. Instead of just matching the look and feel of their images, I also wanted to recreate the model's poses, the lighting setup and the post-processing direction. Each part of this process had its challenges, but I was able to get around the difficulties and produce two images which I believe closely resemble the original photographs by Rankin (his portrait of Milla Jovovich) and Nadav Kander (his portrait of Louise Bagshawe).

While I decided to recreate Rankin's photograph more closely, since I had very limited lighting and background options to reproduce Kander's portrait, I decided to match his general style instead of reproducing the the exact look and feel of the image I used as a reference for the posing and lighting. Nadav is famous for his creative use of a technique called split toning – you can look it up and process your images in a fashion similar to his if you like that kind of effect. Two of my favorite photography processing apps, VSCOcam and Lightroom, have easily accessible split toning features.

Many thanks to the lovely Petia Dimitrova, who modeled for my photographs, and the other classmates who assisted me in the studio.