Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo {San Jose Portrait Photographer}

In the recent workshop I’m taking with Donald Giannatti, up to this point, I have been inspired by (and we have studied) work of David Bailey, Gregory Heisler, Mary Ellen Mark, Francesco Scavullo, Albert Watson, Mark Seliger and Frank Ockenfels. Those names are some of the most influential portrait photographers of the last 50 years.

My head had been spinning, well, it still is, with ideas, inspirations, as well as frustrations and second guessing myself. All because this workshop has pushed me outside of my comfort zone on many occasions. Not to mention, I’d never been exposed to so much of studio work in my life as I’ve been for the past 7 weeks. And it’s a humbling experience.

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo

When it comes to Francesco Scavullo, best known for his work on the covers of Cosmopolitan, I simply did not want to do any glamour/fashion shots. I ended up trying something he was very known for, and what’s called these days a clamshell lighting.

I used one soft box and a small reflector, which for the self portraits I was holding on my lap, or struggling to support it with my free hand.

inspired by work of Francesco Scavullo_ewa samples photography-2

Someday, I’ll look back very fondly on those moments in my garage when I had to be my own model, photographer and an assistant. And at the end, I had produced nothing close to a clam shell lighting kind of portraiture. It wasn’t funny on that day, but even today, I have a smirk on my face writing about it.

Before I got in front of the camera, I had this awesome plan to use my kids (as in most of the assignments for this workshop). Well, you know how that goes when you want your kids to do something (or not to do). They do exact the opposite. In a time when I needed them to be still they decided to make it a dance, and a hugging party.

kids photography inspired by work of Francesco Scavullo_ewa samples photography-3

And because this is such a rare thing between them these days, as they are more preoccupied with fighting over their toys and crayons, I started to “dance” around with them. Yeah, you might call it a dance…  However my dance was to somehow keep the reflector underneath their faces and take photos at the same time while they wiggled. Well, now my smirk is even bigger!!!

HA! Speaking about skilled photographer…. 😉

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo
kids photography inspired by work of Francesco Scavullo_ewa samples photography-6

And some behind the scene 😉

kids photography inspired by work of Francesco Scavullo_ewa samples photography-7

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo

Do you get frustrated when you have an idea in your head, have the tools to re-create / create the idea, but then things are not working for you.

Have you ever let it go then, and start being in the moment instead.

And then somehow you end up with things even better then your initial idea.

Because as David duChemin said today in his article, “we’ll all make much better photographs if we love our photographs more then we love our tools”.

Happy Monday!

Now off I go to think about our last assignment for this workshop: Greg Gorman

What do you have planned for this week?


3-4_without silhuette

if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

Subscribe to our mailing list


Lets connect on Facebook

One Response

Comments are closed.


Thank you so much for visiting my page. I’m super thrilled that you’re interested in working with me. Don’t be shy and write all the things you want to ask me about!


    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)


    Your Message