I have always wanted to do an apothecary type of photograph. I started doing my research on this particular style of portrait and I came across an inspiring photograph done by Apothecary 87. This image blew my mind! It inspired me do something epic and create something unique, fresh and timeless. I started to look for a subject but couldn't find anyone to pull off the look. Just recently, I walked into a sandwich shop in Vaughan, Ontario called Bevi Birra. I was ordering lunch and this guy walks in; Max. I looked at him and I swear he probably thought I was checking him out. Not going to lie, I was. He had the perfect look, beard, hairstyle and just looked liked a modern day pirate to me. I started talking to him and asked him if I could buy him a beer. One thing lead to another and I told him I have a photo studio and would love to photograph him. He thought I was crazy! After I showed him some of the work and what my vision was for this image, he agreed to the shoot.

The Set

After he agreed, I continued to do more research and started collecting my props to build the set. I travelled to antique shops, flea markets, and thrift stores to pick up all of the stuff I needed. A few hundred dollars later, I had what I needed to complete the look. After several hours of rearranging the studio, I was finally happy with how things were looking. Here are just a few of the props I had picked up.

Vintage apple box, with a vintage green vine bottle

Old cigar boxes

Apothecary style bottles and jars

Apothecary style bottles, jars and candles

Old, rustic set design in the studio. Using Godox lighting for the setup, including one AD300 and two 860iii.

Once I was happy with the way things were looking, I started doing some test shots. I setup lights, rearranged them, put grids and snoots on them, layered my set with coloured gels and starting getting into a vibe.

It's always a good idea to build your lighting setup one light at a time. I usually start off with getting the right exposure from my key-light. In this case, it was the beauty dish. Once I'm happy with the exposure, I start to add my other lights, turning off the key light.

My gear list for this shoot was somewhat simpler from some of my other setups recently. I shot this with a Nikon Z6, and a Nikon 35mm 1.8s. I have always been a prime shooter and often do my portrait sessions with an 85mm. This was probably one of the first portrait sessions I did with a 35 strictly. For lighting, I used primarily Godox products for this shoot. I had an AD300 flash shooting through a beauty dish, a speedlite with the Magmod Grid on it and another speedlite as a rim light with a snoot. I had one more speedlite just outside of frame with green gel on it to give it that glow.

Some of my favourite shots from the shoot!

Max looking the distance, holding a Peter James Los Estoico Maduro Cigar. Lit with an AD300 through a beauty dish.

Max looking to the camera, holding a Peter James Los Estoico Maduro Cigar. Lit with an AD300 through a beauty dish with a CTO gel.

Max looking to the camera, holding a Peter James Los Estoico Maduro Cigar. Lit with an AD300 through a beauty dish with a CTO gel. Shot with the Nikon 35mm 1.8S

I couldn't be happier with the way these turned out. It was so much fun creating this look with Max and for Peter James Co. There's a lot to learn from this experience and that's the best part of being a photographer! You get to create art, make dope photographs and learn how to be better next time.

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