Carolyn Rafaelian

Newport Rhode Island, Interior Portrait | Carolyn Rafaelian

Another fun shoot for the folks at Forbes. Very cool one at that. A portrait session of jewelry designer and entrepreneur Carolyn Rafaelian of Alex and Ani fame. But the really cool part of this one was the mansion she owns and is meticulously restoring. The photo editor explains they need some shots of Carolyn to accompany a cover story that is in the works. I am to drive up to Newport and take some portraits in the mansion. Cool, I look up the location on the almighty Google and it’s fantastic! An amazing mansion by the name Belcourt. Carolyn and her team have been restoring this home piece by piece. It’s a great story, take a look at the profile Forbes did on it.  So we pack up the car and drive up to Newport, arriving in the early afternoon. After gawking a bit at the grounds I go in to make contact with the PR person. They have a video shoot in progress so I meet with the construction supervisor. Funny story, at first he wants to kick me out. Turns out that even though the mansion is still not officially open, people wander in all the time asking for tours. After that got cleared up he showed around and we determined that were 2 great interiors that we could use as backgrounds for the photographs. The library and the upstairs dining room. The library is magnificent and after the guys do a little dust removal for us and take away the drop cloths we start lighting. The room is very tough to light, its very dark wood with a white ceiling and 3 sets of glass doors letting in daylight. Photographer’s dilemma. We have day light mixing with tungsten, yuck. Very dark mixing with very light. Interiors can be tough. I set up a couple lights and found that they quickly overpowered the room, killing the mood. Not what I wanted. I start my process of removing light, subtracting until we have a balance that feels natural and yet gives the subject enough luminance to stand out from the background. This was one of those portraits that the backgrounds were as important as the main subject. So equal love needed to be shown to both. Carolyn comes in and after a quick styling decision we are ready to shoot. I literally get the shot in about 10 frames, so we try a few different things but I know we have it. So we quickly move up to my second interior location, the dining room. Now normally I would have had this shot technically all sussed out and ready to go but due to the lack of prep time we did not. I knew what I wanted though and I knew I could get away with all available light. So with my subject right there I quickly shot a few test frames and locked everything in. Very stressful. I do not advise anyone to work out tech stuff in front of their subject. Luckily the room glowed with light and the shot came together in seconds. I started with her off center but it felt unbalanced in my very symmetrical composition, so I had her sit dead center. Voila, again 10-15 frames and we had it. When she and her team saw the images on the computer they were very very happy. Yay! I got the thumbs up from the photo team at Forbes as well.

If you want to see what else I have shot for Forbes take a look.

New York City Editorial Portrait | Nedo Bellucci for Forbes Life Magazine

New York City Editorial Portrait | The Dead Rabbit : Grocery and Grog

Washington DC Executive Portrait | Marillyn Hewson for Forbes Magazine

Carolyn Rafaelian

Carolyn Rafaelian

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