Gemma as pictured by Rembrandt

Gemma d’Cowley c.1660

Portraiture was once the domain of the wealthy and the privileged. It was a rare opportunity to have your portrait painted if you were of a lower class. Today, photography has more or less brought portraiture to the masses, however the feelings that a portrait evokes remain powerful.

I’m inspired heavily by the works of the great painters such as Rembrandt, Van Eyck and Caravaggio. I think that what they accomplished hundreds of years ago set the bar high for portraiture today.

For this portrait of my daughter Gemma, my goal was to achieve the look and feel of a Golden Age painting while using only my camera and natural light as my tools. With the right light and pose, her velvet coat handed down from her cousin and little hoodie hat appear as though they came from another time. I used natural light streaming into our kitchen and controlled it with three foamcore panels. Getting her to NOT smile was the biggest challenge of the pose!


I am a photographer based in San Francisco, California specializing in portrait, editorial, corporate and commercial projects.