Kid Circus Portrait Challenge

Kid Circus Portrait

Ok, so 2020 was a strange one. Time to dust off the gear and fire up another Masters of Photography portrait challenge. As with all of these challenges, the goal is to emulate the style of the artist in question. On this occasion, it was DJ turned portrait/fashion photographer, Kid Circus.

“Maybe deep down I have an appreciation for the ‘performance’ aspect of being in front of the camera when it comes to working with models.”

Kid Circus

Who Is Kid Circus?

Michael, aka Kid Circus, is a London-based portrait and fashion photographer. He started out experimenting with landscape, architecture and street photography, which eventually led to portrait photography and onto fashion. He shoots the majority of his work on film, with his preferred weapon of choice being his Mamiya RZ67.

The reference images for this photography challenge were taken from the Kid Circus Instagram page. After a little bit of research, a few images jumped out. The vibe plus technical details caught my eye and my thought process was to combine these into a single shot.

“When you make a connection between you and your subject it shows in the final images.”

Kid Circus
Kid Circus Portrait - Reference Images
Javan André / Shauna Ridgard by Kid Circus. Images courtesy of Kid Circus

Having selected the images to be used as reference, the next step would have been to find a suitable volunteer. We all know how that story ends. So, time to see if the suit still fits!

Let’s Get Intentional

For those looking for the technical details, here is the gear list including the camera settings:

  • Canon R5
  • 45mm & 105mm (RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM)
  • 1/50 sec at f/16, ISO 8000 (double-exposed in-camera)
  • Main Light: Single 1x2ft LED panel
  • Kicker Light: Godox V1c @ 1/128th with Rogue 1-stop diffuser

I wasn’t able to work with film but wanted to get as much right in-camera as possible. Similar to the David Bailey portrait challenge, my original plan was to set the camera to JPG plus B&W for the double exposure. I soon realised that I wasn’t able to select the original image for the double exposure. This may have been due to the crop settings or the JPG. To save time I shot in RAW with the proviso that I would not make any other edits and only convert to B&W.

Kid Circus Portrait - Lighting
Lighting Diagram

In order to fully recreate the mood of the reference image(s), I shut the blackout curtains in my room and used a single LED panel as the main light. This, combined with the f/16 aperture, meant that I had to shoot at an ISO of about 8000. This gave me the noise/grain I wanted. I also had to drag the shutter to correctly balance the LED and speedlight kicker.

Another slight issue was that the Canon App wouldn’t trigger the camera remotely for the double exposure. I could capture the initial (wide) shot with the App. This meant that I had to set the timer to 10s, hit the shutter and quickly jump on the stool for the tight shot.

Kid Circus Portrait - BTS
Behind The Scenes

Finishing Touches

The Kid Circus original tight shot is flipped. You can see this as the pocket square is on the opposite side. Since I couldn’t achieve this in-camera, and I didn’t want to create this image in post, I decided to live with this difference.

I took the double-exposed shot straight into Lightroom and converted it back to B&W. From the initial research, the reference images look like they were shot on Neopan 400. So I grabbed a film border stock image and added this in Photoshop.

Kid Circus Portrait - Final Image
Kid Circus Portrait – Final Image

Again, another fun and creative afternoon spent on this portrait challenge. I hope you like the end result. Feel free to Contact Us if you have any questions or if you would like further details of our Portrait or Headshot Photography.

Also, a big thank you to Kid Circus for allowing me to use his images on this post as a reference. Not only is he a talented artist, but he is also a gentleman and a scholar.

David Bailey Potrait Probe – Winning Image

The standard of entries on these monthly challenges are constantly on the rise. So it was very humbling to be judged as the winning image for the Headshot Crew Kid Circus Portrait Probe for February 2021.

This challenge was a nice way to dust off the cobwebs after a stressful 12 months. Being voted as the winning entry was definitely an added bonus. A big shout out to all of the Headshot Crew for their support throughout this challenging period.

Kid Circus Portrait Probe Winning Image
Headshot Crew Kid Circus (February) Portrait Probe – Winning Image

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