David duChemin lists “study the masters” as one of the best ways to improve your photography. Well, I’ve been trying to bone up on some portrait work and there is one Elder (or master) that really makes the subject pop. Dan Winters really has a way with painting light and color on a subject. He champions smooth lights – a silky feel – an angelic feeling to his work. His lighting is not over-the-top flash work as I sometimes feel that “strobist”-types like. It’s a bit more calming.
He has hundreds of photos on his website including a few of my favorites:
Most of these have more background and a larger sense of place. Many of his images lack that quality – being pure headshots. So in learning from this elder, I have also learned that I want to engage the environment because I believe the environment creates the person. For instance, the outstanding portrait of C. Walken would only be better if he had included environment. The other 3 contain strong elements of place. Something I think is integral to any good portrait.
Watch/Listen to Dan get spiritual here. He’s got a way with words too – sensibility over style.