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Branding and Lifestyle photography for small businesses Bethesda, Maryland hannah brewer miss maryland

Congratulations Hannah!

Huge congratulations to the gorgeous, talented Hannah Brewer!

As reported by the Herald Mail Media, Pageants News, and WTOP,  Hannah Brewer , previously Miss Teen USA 2013, was just crowned Miss Maryland at The Maryland Theatre in historic Downtown Hagerstown, Md.

As Hannah’s portrait photographer, it’s awesome to have been able to contribute in some small way to Hannah’s success. ¬†Everytime I go online to see what she’s up to, I see a new photo of an awesome image that we created together. I just noticed that the cover photo for Hannah Brewer Miss Maryland Teen USA video is¬†one of my photos.

I’ve¬†had the opportunity to work with many pageant contestants over the years. They come from all over the MD, VA and DC area to my photography studio in Gaithersburg, MD. I really love helping these young ladies look their best and creating amazing portraits¬†for them to use in contests, press, advertising, websites, social media, resumes and everything you can imagine.

Hannah and I had a lot of fun creating a variety of images, but one thing that really stood out was her interest in reaching out to our troops. She arrived with a big beautiful American flag which really set the tone for the shoot.

We used three outfits in this photo session and chose a clean white background for all.

Pageant & Portrait Photography Tips


1. Keep it fun and loose

Keep your model moving. I constantly make suggestions such as “shoulders facing away from the light, turn your head back towards light, eyes down, chin up etc “, helping her into flattering body positions under the lighting that I created.

2. Create lighting that allows movement

Taking into consideration the inverse square law of light, I move my strobe¬†far enough away from the model so when she moves it doesnt substantially alter the exposure. In many of the images we created¬†during¬†this session, I used a one light setup. I put the model close to the background and set a Profoto beauty dish with diffuser far enough back (6-10′) to act as both key and fill light. This created a rather hard light which demanded¬†an acute awareness and control over where the shadows were cast.

Most of the images were shot at about 1/125, f10, 200 iso, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens, using a Profoto Compact-R 600 strobe.

3. Guide the model into positions of movement

For example, not necessarily all at one time of course, but generally speaking we want angles and curves, not straight lines …. bends in the elbows, knees, wrists, and shoulders facing one way and the head another, a twist at the hips, weight on one foot, one shoulder up, one shoulder down, or shoulders back, arched back, chest out, one arm up one down etc..

4. Help the model create a variety of facial expressions

Experiment. I try to elicit different expressions from the model as best I can so they feel real. We are looking for a range, from big smiles to a cute pout, and everything in between. Closed lips no teeth, partial smile, eyes closed, looking down, looking up etc. Keep making suggestions to the model, saying encouraging words. Keep the model moving, changing expressions and taking pictures often. When it doesnt look great suggest something else. Pay close attention, and when something works, jump on it. Explore it. Take a quite a few images making slight changes.

Hannah Brewer Portrait Gallery

In this photo gallery, all images are from one photo session. ¬†Notice the flow, the movement, the large variety of, Hannah Brewer, ¬†portraits with slight variances in angle, expression, tilt of head, position of hair, hands, neck, shoulders, direction of eyes etc…. yielding a treasure trove of amazing images.

Most of these images were taken at 3/4 and full length, and cropped tight around the face for this gallery. The model movement in these images is heavily influenced by the position of the hips and feet.

My key strobe light was on a stand with wheels allowing me to move it often, customizing the light/shadow position based to each pose.

Creating Award Winning Portraits
Case Study

This is one of my favorite portraits.  Model, Hannah Brewer, Miss Maryland 2016, eyes closed,  flag draped, hoping for a safe return for all American troops defending our great country.


Mark Lovett Photography studio in Gaithersburg,MD.


107″ roll of white seamless paper
The white paper background appears warm, off-white because it is slightly under-exposed due to only being lit by the strobe that’s lighting the model.


Hannah was positioned close to the background (about 2′). Shoulders and hips facing away from the light, head turned back toward the light, eyes closed, chin down, flag in hands twisted around her body, weight on back foot.

This is considered a feminine pose because her head is turned back toward the light. When I pose a man, he most likely would be facing forward toward the light.


One strobe РProfoto Compact-R 600 strobe monolight
Modifier – Profoto 20.5 white softlight beauty dish with diffusion sock
Position – high camera right, 45 degree, pointed toward her face slightly down, positioned carefully to create a 1/4″ shadow under the nose often referred to as butterfly lighting. I prefer the shadow to remain within 1/4″ under the bottom of the nose to only define where the nose ends. The light is also positioned to cast a shadow around her face along her jaw line often referred to as short lighting.


Light warm blue/grey gown, warm off-white bg, red/white/blue flag, dark brown hair, tan skin


This is a dramatic portrait. Eyes closed, flag draped, Hannah wishes for the safe return of our American troops .  The mask of face is brightly lit, creating dark shadows strategically placed modeling Hannah in a flattering manner.

Post Processing

Photoshop CC and Lightroom 4.0 – Almost straight out of the camera. Very little processing. Just removed some fly-away hair.

Posing, Lighting Tips | Miss Maryland, Hannah Brewer 1

1/125, f10, ISO 200, 70mm, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8, Nikon D800


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