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Article: Light It Like Jeff: Replicating a Famous Photo | Ep 26

Light It Like Jeff: Replicating a Famous Photo | Ep 26

In the realm of iconic imagery, few photographs have captured the essence of timeless elegance and masculine sophistication quite like the 1965 Esquire shaving photo. The image, which graced the front cover of Esquire magazine, has become an emblem of classic style and grooming. Recreating this masterpiece is not just a photographic endeavor; it's a journey into the past, a celebration of vintage aesthetics, and an homage to the enduring appeal of a bygone era.

Jeff Carpenter recently embarked on a project to recreate the iconic March 1965 cover. The goal was to capture the essence of the original image featuring a woman shaving with shaving cream. In this video, Jeff shows us his setup and techniques for replicating a photo.

Blonde woman model replicating the famous Esquire shaving photo.
Original image of famous 1965 Esquire magazine shaving photo.

Understanding the Original

Shot by the renowned photographer David Montgomery, the image features a debonair man engaged in the act of shaving, surrounded by an air of suave confidence and a hint of mystery. The play of light and shadow, the composition, and the meticulous attention to grooming all contribute to the photo's timeless allure.

Jeff's Approach to Recreating the Iconic Image

The Setup

Jeff utilized a two-light setup for this project: a Profoto A2 with a 2.7 Clic Octa as the main light source and another A2 with a Magnum reflector positioned directly in front of it.

The background consisted of a single V-Flat with the black side facing up, providing a crisp black backdrop reminiscent of the original image.


  • Background Choice: Opt for a black V-Flat to achieve a clean and dramatic background.
  • Lighting Placement: Keep the lights close to the subject to minimize falloff and maintain a crisp black background.
  • Reflectors: Utilize reflectors, such as trifold whites or additional V-Flats, to add kickback and soften the light.

The Lighting Technique

Jeff explains the importance of the two-light setup in achieving the desired effect. The main light, softened by the Octa, provides a soft, flattering illumination on the subject. Meanwhile, the Magnum reflector adds a punchy contrast and shine to the hair, reminiscent of the lighting style prevalent in the 1960s.


  • Soft vs. Harsh Light: Balance soft light with punchy highlights to recreate the vintage aesthetic.
  • Experimentation: Adjust the power settings and experiment with different modifiers to find the perfect balance between softness and contrast.

By meticulously crafting his lighting setup and drawing inspiration from the past, Jeff successfully recreated the iconic Esquire cover.

Replicating Any Photo

By following these tips and techniques, like Jeff, you can breathe new life into classic concepts and capture timeless images that resonate with your audience.

When replicating a photo, remember to pay attention to every aspect of the setup, from lighting angles to background choice, to authentically recreate the original look.

Gear Used in This Video

Lights: Profoto A2 

Softbox: Profoto 2.7 Clic Octa

Background: V-Flat

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