Scott Stulberg explains how he captured this image of a smiling Maasai warrior

How did Scott Stulberg create such a unique portrait of a Maasai warrior? In this portion of his 7 Photography Questions interview he explains the tricks and techniques used to capture such amazing close-up shots.

It’s all About Macro

Scott Stulberg: This is an image of a Maasai warrior. We had been talking about using macro lenses, and this photo was shot with a macro lens.
I found this warrior. I believe this was the Maasai tribe. I asked him if I could just shoot him up close. I gave him my gold reflector. I always travel with a 26 inch or 32 inch soft gold folding reflector. I put it in his hands. He’s holding it right in front of him. (click the image for a larger version)

One hand is on one side, one hand is on the other. I kind of have it curved a little bit and angled right up in his face. If you look in his eyes, those catch lights are showing the soft gold reflector. That’s why his eyes look like that. I got in really close. I’m probably less than a foot away from his face using my macro lens.

That’s why I talk about using macro lenses for faces. I could have easily shot further away with a telephoto but I wanted the interaction of being right next to him and moving the reflector where I wanted, then I tilted his head a little bit how I wanted and told him, “Give me this expression.”

I’m right there so it’s totally different if I was five, six, seven, eight feet away shooting. I wouldn’t have that interaction. I’d have to say, “Yeah, yeah, do this, do this.” You can see at the aperture I was at, maybe it was around f2.8 or f4.

The background blurred out also just like it would with a long lens and I got this beautiful soft gold light reflecting into his face, those beautiful catch lights. The texture at his skin shooting macro, every little pore is right there. You can see the little tattoos he has on each side of his cheek.

This is what I love to do. I love shooting people in different countries using my macro lens, not just my telephoto.

In Closing

Most people shoot portraits using a telephoto lens, but not Scott Stulberg. Scott tells us that the best portraits are often taken with a macro lens, as was the case in this photograph of a Maasai warrior.