Studio Tuesday: Mixing Monolights & Graffiti

by | Jun 8, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.”—― Banksy

There are lots of options when it comes to choosing a backdrop for portraiture, starting with the ubiquitous seamless paper, which is a subject of a previous post.

They may not be the subject of a portrait but the right prop and background can not only enhance a photograph, they can improve your image with your clients. But you’ll need to light it appropriately. For a portrait of a woman sitting on a Victorian bench in an environment created entirely using a backdrop and props, the background can become almost be as big a part of the image as the subject but, using that same background, unlit and barely visible, the subject becomes highlighted and the background is reduced to a supporting role.

But that was (or maybe was) not the case with today’s featured photograph…


How I Made this Shot. For this portrait of Dalia, I placed a red Paul C Buff DigiBee DB800 monolight with Westcott’s 16 x 30-inch Apollo Strip lightbank mounted at camera left. A Paul C Buff Alien Bee B800 with Paul C Buff’s 18-inch Omni reflector attached is at camera right. Dalia was photographed against Lastolite’s two-sided Distressed Paper/Graffiti Urban collapsible background with the Graffiti side out because she felt it worked best with her retro attire and fun pose. This background, for some reason, seems no longer to be available although I did see one Web site still selling it. Maybe it’s because photographers, like me, have beat this background to death with overuse. If that’s true, I apologize.

The portrait of Dalia which, I think straddles the genres of boudoir and glamour, was shot using a Canon EOS 60D with EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (at 57mm) with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/6.3 and ISO 200. The Image was retouched using my standard techniques and enhanced using the Classic Camera (including edges) effects that are part of Analog Efex Pro. Some burning and dodging was added using the layers created by PhotoKit 2.

If you’re interested in learning how I shoot portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere which is available new from with for $31.88 or used starting at seven bucks, as I write this. The Kindle version is $19.99 for those preferring a digital format.