Image Focus

Thodoris Markou | Lines

When I have free time, I like to get creative. I pick up my Sony Alpha 1, head to the studio, call some models and stylists and we, somehow, make something out of nothing. This portrait came from one of those ‘creative moments’.

I often look for inspiration and bookmark photos I like for future reference. Before a shoot, I then bring up these and show them to the stylists on set. Together, we’re able to collaborate on new ideas. For this image, I visualised having just a little bit of makeup across the subject's face, as I wanted to have a play between the lines on her face and the diamonds on the dress.

I shot the image on my Sony Alpha 1 with the FE 135mm f/1.8 G Master lens. Initially, I tried to take the shot with the FE 50mm f/1.2 GM – a personal favourite of mine – but that lens, I find, is better suited to full-body photos. The 135mm f/1.8 however is my go-to for close up shots as it flattens the image perspective, creating a more natural-looking portrait.

Often, I shoot with a lens at its widest aperture, but in this case, I shot at f/2.2. This offered a little bit more depth of field and I was able to capture more of the face – beyond just the eyes – in focus.

portrait of a lady with make up stripes on her face

© Thodoris Markou | Sony α1 + FE 135mm f/1.8 GM | 1/160s @ f/2.2, ISO 100

Eye-AF and focus tracking on the Sony Alpha cameras are my favourite things in the world. When I push the AF button, I feel confident in the camera’s ability to lock on the eye and track the focus perfectly. Before, when we used manual focus or used older generations of Autofocus, focusing was always on our minds – 'Will this be in focus?’ or, ‘Have I focused properly?' were often questions running through my mind. Now I never have to worry, meaning I can concentrate on the things that matter; the direction of my model and the lighting.

I'm a firm believer in keeping lighting as simple as possible. Nearly all the great portrait photographers used just one or two lights. In this image, I used a key light on the subject's face, and then I let this light fall-off on to the white background, creating a light grey colour. Beneath the subject, I placed a white foam board to act as a reflector and soften the shadows on the face. Then, I used a small light behind the model with a grid pointing at the back of the model's head to act as a hair light, adding a touch of separation from the background.

I try and keep everything simple, including the poses. It might sound old-school, but simplicity creates such perfect clean images. I want an image where the eyes, the expression, the make-up and the lighting all combine to create a simple but riveting beauty portrait, and without the Alpha 1, this would be impossible.

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Thodoris Markou

Thodoris Markou | Greece

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