Portrait shoot walkthrough in Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris

Model: Joy
Gear: Canon 60DCanon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II
Editing tools: Lightroom 5, Photoshop

Today I would like to provide a short walkthrough of a recent photo shoot I did in Paris. Joy and I went to probably the most famous cemetery in Paris, Père Lachaise, where rest many artists such as the great master of comedy, Molière, the american singer-songwriter, Jim Morrison, or the famous cabaret singer, Edith Piaf. Even though you would probably not want to wander around at night, the cemetery is really beautiful during the day and provides gorgeous backgrounds ideal for portrait photography.

Pere Lachaise #1

The weather was sunny with large clouds passing by which made it difficult to get the right exposure, even in aperture priority mode. We first found a long and straight stone road which provided nice leading lines and a sense of dimension to the portrait.

Pere Lachaise #9

We then looked for shady areas with interesting backgrounds, such as the doors of the many small chapels built as part of the tombs.


All photos were shot handheld with natural light and a 50 mm fixed focal lens at aperture f/2.2 to 2.8 for shallow depth of field  and a shutter speed about 1/100 sec, ISO 100.

Pere Lachaise #4

The post processing was made in Lightroom with typical portrait edits, except for the skin for which I prefer to use a more advanced technique in Photoshop in order to lose less details. I will share a tutorial in the future to explain in detail how I post-processed one of the pictures.

Pere Lachaise #5

In the picture above, the plane of focus is actually a few millimeters off which makes Joy’s forehead sharp while her eyes are soft (in particular the right one). This is to illustrate how challenging it can be to focus correctly at f2.2. However, I still thought the photo was interesting so I included it in this post.

Pere Lachaise #6

We ended up finding a beautiful rusty door to use as a background to finish the photo shoot.

Pere Lachaise #7

I end this post with probably my favorite photo of the series. Joy was sitting a few meters in front of the door giving it a really nice bokeh.


I hope you like this post, do not hesitate to comment, ask any question, or provide constructive feedback. Stay tuned for more!

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