Platon’s lighting for the controversial Bill Clinton portrait

October 12, 2010 — 8 Comments

platon's photo lighting for bill clinton esquire on guess the lighting blog

ted sabarese photo lighting diagram of bill clinton on guess the lighting blog

copyright, Platon.

This was Clinton’s last official portrait as president, created with 1 light for Esquire. After a session of typically presidential posing was complete, Platon asked Clinton to “show him the love.” The result caused a stir in the political mediasphere. Bob Woodward said on Larry King Live that, “the tie is an arrow pointing to his penis, his legs are splayed to present his crotch to us, his hands are big to grope you, and he’s smiling in a way to say I got away with it.”

Camera: Hasselblad 553ELX with 30mm fisheye lens and Kodak Portra film. Shot at 1/60, f8, ISO 100.

Lighting: The key, and only, light is a small softbox at f8 directly over camera. Although it seems that another light is aimed at the background, I’m guessing this effect was created in post.

Comments: To break the ice, Platon tried teaching the president some cockney rhyming slang. Bill just laughed and said, “you said cockney.”

  • DP

    Totally buying the vignette being added in post.

  • Yangyin099

    I respectfully disagree and think there was a 2nd light behind Clinton. Though the background glow could have been added in post and may have been enhanced, it wasn’t yet as common or as easy as now.

    The only thing Woodward forgot, is to tell us on which side Bill “hangs”. Now we and Monica know it’s on his left.

  • Jametewart

    Yangy, I’m pretty sure dodging and burning has been around for at least 10 years and maybe even more… Like 12 or something.

  • Nick Minton

    No offense, but i don’t think thats simply dodging and burning to create that glow around him. I could see it more so as a second light behind him more-so than post work

  • The background is done in post. I believe Platon says this in an video interview posted on his website.

    • hey max. do you happen to have a link you could post? then we could put all of this controversy to bed.

      • there was another interview here I heard it. but can’t find that. Just found this and notice that he says “strobe” (not “strobes”) twice.

  • Matt

    Hi guys, did an internship with him, he tends to only use umbrellas, shoots on fuji colour negative, and all the vignetting is done in post by his full time retoucher…