When a call comes in to photograph someone who titles themselves “Carlos, The Rollerblader,” I say yes first and then find out what the story is second. I’ve done other profile pieces for Portland Monthly Magazine. Still, Carlos’ portrait is one of my favorites.
First up, Carlos prefers They/Them pronouns. Using the preferred pronouns has everything to do with making a great image. I need to connect with my subject and put them at ease to capture calm moments like this.
I started with some preliminary sketches and lighting tests —the goal was to find a way of creating motion and direction.
I wanted a visual metaphor for Carlos and their work as a stand-up comedian and phone advice counselor (seriously, Carlos will answer the phone and give you life advice). Also, Carlos is a rollerblader. As in, they perform on rollerblades, on stage. And everywhere else. Carlos has a constant feeling of motion, even when they are standing still.
I captured Carlos The Rollerblader using a combination of long shutter and continuous lights.
Carlos arrived on set, and we began the collaboration—they were a lot of fun to have in the studio. They also DJ professionally, so I turned over the airplay stream to them, and we had killer music during the entire session.
With a carefully built, sculpted light look, the set was designed to create beautiful tones. The light hits and drops off quickly to deep shadow around the edges.
The graphic quality of the light created that visual momentum, carrying you around the contours and lines of their face.
Of course, since it’s my brain we’re working with here, I had a second idea on the backburner.
I wanted to do a full-length shot to get those rollerblades in. I used a combination of a long shutter, carefully set continuous lights, and a multi-pop sequence to add a true visual sense of motion. It’s an old-school technique but done with a deliberate intention in mind—it wasn’t about creating meaningless streaks or blur; it was making a related graphic, echoing the design ideas in the portraits.
Carlos has a lot of energy and rarely stands still!
Here’s the full story about Carlos in Portland Monthly Magazine. It’s a great read, I highly recommend you check it out.
Andy is the artist-in-residence, owner, technologist, cook, brewer, and cocktail maker in chief at Andy Batt Studio. He loves to work with a good crew on complex projects and a good cup of coffee. No, a good cup of coffee— there’s a difference. On the side, he teaches lighting workshops because he likes giving back to his community.