Speedliter's Blog is excited to feature gorgeous senior photos from Whitehall, Wisconsin based photographer Gerardo Gonzalez. A practiced strobist, Gerardo uses off camera flash to highlight his subjects and create incredible images that pop!
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What gear did you bring to this shoot?
CAMERA: Sony A7III - My newest addition this year. I absolutely love this camera. It has amazing dynamic range and focuses insanely fast and accurate.
LENSES: Sigma 70-200mm 2.8. This lens is originally an a-mount lens but we use it with our Sony e-mount cameras with the Sony LA-EA3 A-Mount Adapter. The 70-200mm is definitely in my top 3 favorite lenses. Its run 'n gun capture capability is amazing!
LIGHTS: Flashpoint XPLOR 600 Non-TTL controlled by Flashpoint XPro-S. I really love the Godox/Flashpoint lighting products because they are reliable and affordable. They produce great light to make awesome pictures!
MODIFIERS: I used my good ole reliable Glow 36” EZ Lock Octabox. It is a double diffused softbox.
STANDS: I used a pretty generic light stand, nothing fancy. I do want to invest in a C-Stand in the future.
Why do you use the camera and lighting brands/systems that you use?
SONY: Since the start of my photography journey, I have always used Sony cameras. I just absolutely love the results that Sony cameras produce, especially the new mirrorless ones. The dynamic range is absolutely awesome! You can always recover images even if they’re super underexposed. The Sony A7III is also known for its impressive low light capability.
FLASHPOINT: I started using flashpoint products after seeing a few reviews on YouTube. My first light/strobe that I purchased was the XPLOR 600. I’ve had this light for 3+years and it’s been super reliable; It’s my go-to light. In addition I have the Evolv 200, 2 speedlights, and another XPLOR 600. I highly recommend godox/flashpoint products to anybody interested in off-camera flash photography.
How did you approach this shoot from a planning perspective? What was on your mind?
This senior session was planned about 2 weeks ahead of the shoot. The senior wanted to have a lot of greenery and nature in her portraits. We planned the shoot to be in a local park near a soccer field where she wanted some pictures as well. She wanted to include a Mexican flag as a prop in some of her pictures. I was thinking, “this is going to be a great combo with the colors of the Mexican flag and background scene.”
What were you thinking when you staged each photo?
PHOTO #1: Sitting on a sidewalk is a must for senior pictures, so we found a nice sidewalk in the park with a nice green background. I exposed for the highlights and filled in the rest with the XPLOR 600. My client was a natural at posing which made my job easy. This pose created a nice flow and shapes. By "shapes" I mean that the position of her legs and arms created triangles which create interest and lead the viewers eye.
SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO:1/1600 - f/2.8 - ISO 100 @160mm
PHOTO #2: We chose an open field for the next image to isolate the subject by reducing distractions behind her. The Mexican flag added a color pop and a story to the portrait. We used a simple pose. I really liked how the image turned out where she was facing slightly up and towards the flash as if she was looking into the future. The shot is edited with basic Lightroom adjustments.
SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/1600 - ISO 100 - f/2.8 @105mm
PHOTO #3: The next photo is definitely one of my favorites from this shoot. I felt that this shot had everything on point: the colors, posing, the background/foreground, the lighting, etc. I love it when subjects are backlit by the sun! Fun fact: the sun makes a perfect light source to give a nice kick light in your portraits.
SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO:1/4000 - ISO 100 - f/2.8 @200mm
What software and tools/processes did you use for post-production & retouching?
To start off, I edited all the images with basic adjustments in Adobe Lightroom. I then exported them directly from Lightroom to Adobe Photoshop. In Photoshop I started by removing any blemishes and distractions in the images. Then I color graded my images by using the “Selective Color” option. I believe that color grading is the editing step that makes my images stand out. After I color grade them, I start using the dodge & burn technique. With the dodge and burn technique, I lighten the lights and darken the darks. I do the dodge & burn on the subject’s skin and clothes. Lastly, I sharpen my images using the high-pass filter.
What do you like most about the final images? Is there anything you would do differently next time?
I love the the color pop. I’m a sucker for vibrant colors in my images. The only thing I would do differently, and it happens more often than not, is sometimes I go a little overboard with my dodge & burn and I have to go back and correct it. It’s all part of the learning process.
Where can photogs see more of your work?
Check out more of Gerardo's work on Instagram @gerardogonzalezphotography_ or at