Capturing Personality: An Exercise in Color and Light Specularity


Maria Marquis Homepage Redesign

In Maria’s career coaching and consulting work, she uses her bold, bright, and colorful personality to empower her clients. The aim of this project was to redesign her homepage to best communicate that energy.


When we began the project, we knew that our goal was to bring Maria’s unique energy front and center on the new website. We took advantage of the fact that she was open to a full redesign, and was not tied to an existing color palette. Our process began with test shots using colored gels which are thin pieces of colored material placed over a studio flash pointed toward the backdrop.

We determined a couple things during the test shoot with the gels. First, blue was definitely her preferred color. Second, to achieve the energy we wanted, it became clear that the lighting should probably lean toward higher specularity. We then tested various applications of light, from somewhat diffuse, to highly specular. After testing several variations, we narrowed down the spectrum to the below three.


The image above on the far left has softer lighting on the face with more even gradation into shadows. The image on the far right has a more defined line separating shadows. Typically the greater the specularity, the bolder and more powerful the subject will appear. In addition to gradation, lighting decision making also involves the natural angularity of the subject’s face. Given the goal of the composition, we dialed in our setup to simulate natural sunlight.


Why So Much Testing?

Like many of our clients who are either getting a new business off the ground, or are making their first big brand investment, Maria’s goal was for the website to clearly demonstrate that her coaching business “is an actual thing.” Key to achieving that was letting the production value show in the photography so that it’s clearly a commercial execution, while at the same time making sure she looked down to Earth and approachable. We believe that the only person who can strike the right balance and guide the work to the right place is the client. That takes collaboration to experiment and zig-zag a little to hone in on the right visual answers.




Subscribe: No Promos, Project Blog Updates Only