Kathryn Stockett :: Author of The Help

August 22, 2014 | Editorial Photography






Had the pleasure of photographing author Kathryn Stockett at her home in Atlanta for Atlanta Magazine. Kathryn is the author of The Help

The images were shot to illustrate a story on authors and their spaces. On the technical side of things, these were shot with a Phase One medium format camera and are stitched panoramas. Each of the photos above were stitched from nine to twelve individual images. I love the perspective and field of view this technique gives me and I’m doing it more and more these days. My clients love them because the resulting image typically outputs to 60 inches on the longer side at 300 DPI and gives them A LOT of room to crop as needed since there is more resolution than anyone in their right mind needs. It’s a slower process but it’s worth it.




  • Peter said on August 22, 2014

    Very nice how these images give you a sense of the space around the subject while still keeping her the focus of the image.

    But as cool as that semi-large-format look and the extra resolution is, it does open up doors to major stitching artifacts, like in the white cushions to the subject’s right in the first image.

    Considering the extra work required to elaborately check and re-check every minute detail to make sure everything is perfect, I’m not sure it is worth using for most jobs, especially when deadlines are short. Also, when something moves slightly between shots or if you are slightly imprecise in your framing, more post work might be required than would commonly be acceptable for an image. That might exclude a photo from certain possible uses in the future if, say, a publication with stricter “no Photoshop” standards wants to license it for example.

  • Zack said on August 22, 2014

    OMG Peter! Thank you! I pulled the wrong file when making this post! Fixed!

    The only “No Photoshop” standards I know of do not apply to portraits. If there was that standard then, of course, a stitch would not work. I’ve never ever ever ever worked under a contract like that though. For me at least.


  • Tor Ivan Boine said on August 22, 2014

    wow. Now this was some unusual photographs from you :)
    I like it

  • Mike said on August 22, 2014

    I’m trying to wrap my head around the tech aspect of stitching images to get one as well as the perspective it offers. Wonderful images!

  • Trevor said on August 22, 2014

    Great work, Zack. Great to see you blogging again outside of Dedpxl. Like the lighting here. Very soft and soothing. Cheers.

  • Lloyd said on August 22, 2014

    Great photos Zack, been meaning to try some stitching!
    How about your light setup? Looks uber natural, something
    I usually find tricky when using strobes.

  • DQ said on August 23, 2014

    Hi Zack
    as wonderful as these are technically, i feel something is missing. A connection. They look PERFECT, but to me at least, they lack soul. I know you realize that by putting this out there you sometimes open yourself up to a few folks who don’t agree with all of the other commenters, and that in this case is me.

    A magazine doesn’t need a 60 inch file, a magazine needs a photo that jumps off the page emotionally. You could shoot this with a nikon fm and outdated negative film but if there was a spark or more of a point of view, it would sing.

    This is VERY NICE. She’s pretty, it’s nicely lit — although for me the interiors are too OBVIOUSLY lit — a touch of fill in the background would have mitigated the feeling of “there’s a really big light over here in the front left.” And the styling and composition: first rate.

    And it’s probably perfect for Atlanta Magazine. But why wouldn’t this run in Vanity Fair? Maybe you don’t care… and I don’t know. But if I were giving one of those video critiques you and Meg do, I’d say “B, B+.”

    ZACK! I say this with love, because I am HUGE FAN of yours, and appreciate all you do and how you’ve managed to carve out a niche — mighty impressive — and how you are kind and supportive.

    BUT! ZACK! forget this stiching techno-exercise, and make a shot where there’s more Zack and less backend BS.

    Just my opinion, and truly, just my humble opinion.

    Carry on!

  • Tré Voir said on August 23, 2014

    Playing Devil’s Advocate here, why not just do the shoot on Large Format film? The fields of view/focal distance would’ve been different sure, but a lot less headache when it comes to stitching all of the 100MB+ files together from the Phase. I mean, you could’ve used the Phase like a Polaroid back to get your lighting where you wanted it (which you prob don’t need anyway since you’re The One Light God) then shoot it on LF film. In the time it would’ve taken you to go through those files, pick which ones work from the clunkers THEN do the stitching PLUS temp/color corrections, you could’ve had 5 sheets of film Dev/Scanned at Richard’s Photo Lab which would give you the same’ish resolution. Seems like that would’ve been infinitely easier.

  • Zack said on August 23, 2014

    @Tré – My stitching process is WAY easier and faster than shooting large format. I don’t manually stitch each of these images together. I use Auto Pano Giga and it does a pretty damn good job in very short order. Plus, if I was shooting LF I’d want two assistants. I didn’t even have one assistant on this particular shoot.


  • Kent said on August 23, 2014

    I really like these, the stitching effect works great, but what I’m really responding too is how nice the light is. The interior shots have that effortless feel to them that just looks natural and *right*. When I’m usually trying to reverse engineer the lighting on a shot like this it’s usually either something really complicated that I wouldn’t think of or so simple that I realize I’m over-thinking it. 😉

  • Zack said on August 23, 2014

    @Kent – :) – Interior lighting here is a 60 inch shoot through with an Elinchrom Quadra on camera left and then mixed with ambient.


  • ron greer said on August 23, 2014

    very nice photos. any chance of a detailed explanation of your stitching technique?

  • Zack said on August 23, 2014

    I’ll be doing some stuff about that on DEDPXL.


  • Elliot said on August 24, 2014

    What @DQ said. Good technique, composition. Lacks connection except for the middle one, that kind of works. But I bet you wouldn’t put it in your portfolio. AMIRIGHT?

  • Zack said on August 25, 2014


  • David Eichler said on October 8, 2014

    Will these be used for large display prints or poster reproductions? If not, I don’t see the need for that much resolution, even if trying to allow for some cropping.

  • David Woodcock said on November 4, 2014

    I very much like the range of different portrait styles on your website. I think the images on this blog show a real connection with the subject. Keep up the excellent work.

  • Tavis said on January 10, 2015

    I think, for those asking what is the point of the stitching technique, photographers need to push their limits as well, experiment, and so on. I find it completely reasonable to explore new avenues, try new things, and for Zack Specifically–frankly–he is where he is today because that is what he does, he pushes the limits.

    I say keep exploring, all of us, we’ll come around to what works and what doesn’t if we’re serious about our craft. This is at the very foundation of good art in my mind.

    The words ‘what’s the point’ do not compute when we’re talking about art.

  • Paul Szilard said on January 25, 2015

    I would love to see a comparison using the Fuji XF 23mm or 56mm lenses. To satisfy my curiosity, it wouldn’t have to be the same subject, as this is probably impractical here, but just shoot a similar set of photos with any of your lovely models, both on the Phase One and the Fuji lenses and then show these images.

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