Shooting Portraits One Color at a Time How and why to shoot monochromatic color portraits

In this video photographer, Jay P. Morgan from The The Slanted Lens demonstrates how he shoots three different portraits with flashes and creates three distinct monochromatic color images.

When we think about monochrome we typically think of black and white (or actually shades of grey) but you can choose other colors and work with them as well (after all, mon = 1, and chroma is greek for color). Although Morgan’s images are not true monochromatic (the skin tones are preserved) his idea is to create a portrait that is as close to a single color as possible other than the model’s skin color.

For this fun creative shoot Morgan picked three colors – red, green, and yellow and for each color, he used the same model in a different pose with different clothing and costume set as well as an interesting shape pattern (triangle for red, square for green and circle for yellow).

All the images were shot on an 85mm at f/3.5 to let the background shapes be less distinct and not as distracting. Lighting was bounced from the ceiling as well as behind the model and into the background (green shot), for some of the other shots (red) a diffuser was used just in front of the model with a back bounce and two lights shining the background from the side (red shot). Finally, for the yellow shot, Morgan shot with a front top light with a grid with a light on the background and another light bouncing from a reflector to fill the shadows.

He also used a bit of vaseline on a lens filter to make the lower part of the image a bit less sharp and draw attention to the face (that is an old photographer’s trick from before the time of Photoshop – you can of course replicate this in the post as well).

A more useful tool for these colored shots is the datacolor colorreader EZ – this cool little pocket gadget can check what specific color an object has and let you know so you can pick a matching paint or fabric or background paper for your shoot and it can be very useful for these types of shots as well as product and food photography where specific colors can sometimes be very important.

You can find a lot more lighting tutorials on our photography lighting section here on LensVid, and you can find all of Jay P. Morgan’s videos here on LensVid on the following link.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *