There might be some of you out there who look at this photo and immediately think that I was attempting to copy the style of Dan Winters, and you would pretty much be right, although I would prefer to say that I was inspired by him. I've long been a fan of Winters' incredible control of both the placement and the quality of his light, so I thought it would be a good learning exercise to try and figure out how he does what does and then use what I learn. So this is a kind of tribute to Dan's work, even though, naturally, I ended up with something different. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because if you never put your own spin on your photos, and only try to copy what you see other guys do, your work will never stand out on its own. However, before you can start to riff on something you've been inspired by, it's a pretty good idea to understand the process itself first.
Winters usually spends more time removing light with gobos than actually setting up the light in the first place. I didn't aim to copy any one specific photo of Dan's, but I did use grey-green tones, which he favors. I also attempted something he does often, which is to selectively light his model, as if he or she were just stepping into a shaft of light, yet keep that light soft. That second part is the tricky bit, because narrow light sources leave hard shadows. Winters shoots a lot of his stuff in film, and generally does most or all of his processing before he snaps the shutter. While I attempted to do the same, it didn't quite work out that way, and I ended up doing a lot of work in post. However, I didn't do much dodging and burning or localized curves adjustments: the shadow and highlight areas are essentially in the same place as they were in-camera. And to be fair, I don't have the kind of tools that Winters has access to, like massive octoboxes and Profoto ringflashes, so I had to make do with what I had available. Winters also uses deceptively simple, beautiful sets, which he often builds himself, while I resorted to using photos of wall textures I shot in Venice to create a fake backdrop, which, looking at it now, I think I should've blurred more. I've got a long road to travel in terms of learning to control light, but I'm sure I will enjoy the journey :)
Thank you so much to my lovely model Yana, who is also a great photographer, for allowing me to experiment on her and for being patient with me :)