Alex Hoel’s Rock Portrait Photography

Norwegian photographer Alex Hoel loves covering the world of musicians. He recently broke down his approach to this photo, and how he got the results he did.

©Alex Hoel

©Alex Hoel

This shot of Glen Mollen, the bass player for Circus Maximus, was actually done in Hoel’s home. “I just put together a ‘studio’ with gear on hand,” Hoel says. “I only had one lamp that day, so I metered for the subject. This meant fixing the background in Photoshop afterwords. Normally, for a white background, I meter several places on the background to make sure I’ve got about two stops more light on the background than on the subject. This gives me a totally white background.”

“I do not recommend flooding the background with light just to ‘be sure,’ and not buy a light meter,” Hoel advises. “Too much light will strike back to do nasty things to hair and flair up the scene. I also measure for proper distance to the background for the subject, normally splitting the scene in two parts, where 2/3 is for the subject an the 1/3 part near the back is light only. Placing the subject in this 1/3 zone will cast shadows and overexpose the subject.”

“I used Kodak Ektar and a silver reflecting umbrella to get as much saturation and contrast as I could,” Hoel says.

Hoel has done a lot of music festival shooting. “Last year I didn’t bring the Sekonic, and when using a Canon 5D Mark II, that meant a lot of post processing due to bad metering,” he says.

Gear used:

  • Mamiya RB67 Pro SD, with 6×7 back and KL 127 mm f/3.5L lens (equivalent focal length for 35mm is 62mm)
  • Kodak Ektar
  • Sekonic L-308S
  • Elinchrom Lighting, with silver reflecting umbrella
  • Savage white vinyl background
  • Manfrotto background stands

Hoel relies on quality labs to process his film. “I used a Epson 750v and SilverFast for scanning, but highly recommend leaving this job to the lab,” he says. “They have scanners like the Fuji Frontier and skilled people to make the magic happen.” From the raw scans, Hoel then does postproduction in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Learn more about Alex Hoel at his site. Follow him on Twitter. Glen Mollen can be found here.


All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Alex Hoel, all rights reserved; story is ©Sekonic. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

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Posted in portrait photography.