Blog meet Felix Kunze, an editorial and commercial portrait photographer operating out of NYC. He was born in Berlin, grew up in the UK, and now he resides in The Big Apple. His goal is to show the beauty, grace, strength, and enthusiasm of the people in his photos. He focuses on non-models and places regular people in exaggerated situations that highlight an aspect of who they are. He’s worked alongside of some of the top names in the biz. His wealth of experience makes him known as a lighting specialist.

‘Mel, stop walking, the light is gorgeous in this alley’
‘Just get over here and shake your hair back and forth’

Felix has a client list as long as my arm, including Swarovski, Yahoo, Adidas, 3M, Vitra, The BBC, and many others. His celebrity, beauty, and lifestyle work is syndicated through ContourPhotos.

During a recent chat, he told me about a fascinating shoot he did a while back. When he completed the work, he couldn’t seem to nail that perfect look that would make the shots come alive. I’ll let him do the explaining. It’s a great story!

‘Hair by Melany, Jacket by Felix?’

I held onto these images of Melany Bennett for over a year. We were in Taiwan in March 2013 for a charity project and I floated the idea of doing some shooting during our down time. From the moment she agreed, I knew I wanted the shoot to have a very editorial feel. The light in Taiwan would look different than my photos taken in the West. Asian cities have a surplus of bright lights, making for unique lighting without bringing in anything artificial. The shoot was a challenge, but a good challenge. We both had a great time having fun while being productive.

‘Can you see it?’

In post, every one of my numerous attempts to create the kind of color wash and feel I was after failed with Photoshop alone. A friend turned me onto Exposure, by Alien Skin. I toyed around, particularly in the Polaroid presets, and I saw the light. I processed the entire story through Exposure. Once it was published, I received a ton of positive interest for my work!

‘This is so pretty’
‘This place creeps me out’
‘No, it’s beautiful’
‘Wait, are those spider webs?’
‘Oh my, they are everywhere’
‘How do they ever film anything in bamboo forests with this many spiders around’
‘You’re right, it’s creepy, let’s take a picture and run’

There are a bunch of things that I really like about the software. A few of them, such as the unparalleled control I have over the beautiful grain in Exposure, make it a must-have for me. The same behaviour with grain in Photoshop–adding noise to the shadows or highlights respectively–is a huge pain. Exposure makes it so simple and the grain is more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen elsewhere.

‘We could shoot a campaign for this place’
‘Like this?’

Felix has an upcoming course on CreativeLIVE called ‘The Lighting Challenge – Natural vs Studio.’ There, he’ll team up with Sue Bryce to teach the course on 19-20 May.

Sue is going to play the part of student as well as the teacher. After she shows her natural light scenarios, Felix will take the reins and teach using studio lights. This will be Sue’s first experience with studio lighting in her 25 year career. So she’ll ask all the questions we’re either too afraid or embarrassed to ask.

Interested in the course? Enroll here or sign up to be part of the studio audience.

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