Hey, this photo is © Olena Sullivan | photolena.

In The Studio with Beth & Bella

September 3, 2014 Articles, General


I love it when I get couples into the studio for a portrait session. I find that duo dynamic is so different than what I’m used to shooting that, depending on the comfort level of the couple, I can take a completely different and hands-off approach to directing their session.

This was definitely the case with Beth & Bella. They had put in the winning bid on a 2 hour studio session that I had donated to the Toronto Burlesque Festival Fundraiser and we were able to book in some time at my favourite studio – Working Proof Studios out in the east end. With the studio kittens in tow, we set up and shot 2 different looks:

Easy Going Portrait


Beth & Bella

For this part of the session, Beth and Bella went for a completely natural, everyday look. They wanted the processing to be kept fresh and simple to match with their lifestyle. It was a refreshing change to shoot portraits that involved jeans and t-shirts instead of my usual crystals, feathers, and fringe. Of course, even with a natural shoot, there still had to be some makeup to even out skin tone and tone down glare in the face. We set up an overhead light to bring some highlights to the hair and had a simple 2 light setup with soft boxes and a bounce which still gave us great catchlights in the eyes.

Classy Nighttime Portrait


Beth & Bella

For the second part of the session, the look was classic evening with corset and suit jacket. The lighting setup was similar although we toned it down a bit to make the highlights/shadows more dramatic. The photos were edited a bit more for either b&w or a flat matte effect. I really like the look of the b&w post for these images as the tones in the corset compared to the black suit jacket really bring out the brightness of the skin tones. I don’t find b&w always works for every portrait, but here it really stands out.

Throughout the shoot I found the best way to best capture the relationship, their feelings for each other, that look in the eye they had when glancing at each other, was to engage them in conversation. The more they spoke about each other, the more the studio would shrink until it became just that one small area they were standing in together. That’s when they forgot about me, the camera, and the lights and the magic happened.

Related articles