Photographing “Belle in the Enchanted Forest”

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

“Anybody can direct a picture once they know the fundamentals. Directing is not a mystery, it’s not an art. The main thing about directing is photograph the people’s eyes.”—John Ford

I’ve often written here about how movies influence my photography. The other night I was watching the Criterion Collection’s version of John Ford’s My Darling Clementine and was struck by the quality an style cinematography by Joe MacDonald who created what must surely have the first film noir western. And if you’ve never seen the restored version of My Darling Clementine, you haven’t really seen the movie.

I’m not as much influenced by TV shows mainly because with rare exceptions such as HBO’s Westworld, they tend to be overlit, especially traditional network shows. Yet it was ABC’s Once Upon a Time that influenced this image starring the then 16-year old Sarah Dean as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

How I made this shot: My portrait of Sarah was shot using a Canon EOS 60D with EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (at 50mm) with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 125. This was my go-to portrait camera/lens combination for a long time before I became enamored with mirrorless cameras.  Technical assistance, lighting, fog machine and staging were provided by her father, Jack Dean, and this image shot in his studio in Brighton, Colorado.

PS. To see what Sarah looks like today, take a look at this post.


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If you’re interested in learning how I shoot portraits and use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere that’s available new from Amazon.com for $19.25 or $9.77 used, as I write this. The Kindle version is $11.99, if you prefer a digital format format.