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Experiments With Light



Nader Abushhab uses his suite of Tamron lenses to play around with light sources and create portraits that pop.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Nader Abushhab


Behind every one of Nader Abushhab’s photos is a desire to harness the best light, whether outside or in the studio, to create timeless fashion and environmental portraits. Although the pandemic led to a rough 2020, things started to pick up again last year, and Nader is hoping that trend continues into 2022. In addition to using his Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC G2 and SP 70-200mm F/2.8 VC G2, among other Tamron lenses, Nader has recently added the Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 to his lens lineup as he dives into the new year.

“My newest addition, the 35mm prime lens with its maximum F/1.4 aperture, offers me awesome sharpness,” Nader says. “For me, 35mm is one of those focal lengths that has a slight distortion that’s not unflattering, but instead lends my photos an iconic editorial feel.” Nader uses his 70-200 for classic beauty and fashion photos, as well as for corporate assignments like headshots, and calls the 24-70 his go-to lens, with versatility and sharpness he can count on.

Read on to see how Nader uses his suite of Tamron lenses to create portraits that resonate.

© Nader Abushhab
45mm, F/5.6, 1/160 sec., ISO 100
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This photo was for a personal portrait study. I wanted to create a studio look in natural light. It was extremely hot the day we shot this, in the early afternoon in a parking lot. We used a scrim behind the model and had him face a white wall, so I could capture just a hint of that white glimmer in his eyes. We started having a conversation, talking about wrestling and his mustache, and got him laughing. The hat really tied in to the vibe of the shot.

© Nader Abushhab
70-200mm (200mm), F/5.6, 1/200 sec., ISO 100
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This client is an up-and-coming model here in Arizona who needed images for her portfolio. My team and I styled her, and we had her start to pose and move around once we brought her into the studio. I saw her leaning over for a shot and had her freeze right where she was. I loved the way her curls were hanging, especially the one dangling right over her forehead. It felt emblematic of her look and proved to be a fantastic portrait.

© Nader Abushhab
35mm, F/2.8, 1/125 sec., ISO 800

I shot this in the studio but in natural light. The model was in front of a window that’s being blocked by a V-flat, so you get this pleasing, wrapped-around effect. There’s a little bit of bounce behind me, just enough to fill in the shadows. I’ve seen this technique used often in California beach settings, where there’ll be a lightbox outside used in tandem with a black backdrop.

© Nader Abushhab
24-70mm (38mm), F/2.8, 1/125 sec., ISO 500
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This client hired me to take some portraits of her, including a classic nude. Once we got to a point where we were comfortable, I told her to start dancing around to infuse some energy into the images. I have a few of her laughing, but I really liked this one of her face scrunched up. It feels very Rolling Stone-like, iconic and timeless. I shot this with video light, so I didn’t have to worry about strobes. I could constantly keep shooting and incorporate some of the motion blur into the photos.

© Nader Abushhab
24-70mm (70mm), F/8, 1/125 sec., ISO 64
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This client is a local actor who came in for headshots. After I captured what he needed, I asked him if he’d mind sticking around so I could experiment with different lighting scenarios. This image was strobed in the studio, and we set my client up inside of a couple V-flats, with the black side creating a dark box of sorts for him. I love working with actors, because it’s easy for me to elicit all kinds of emotions and facial expressions from them. I wanted to come in really tight using the 24-70 here for a more editorial feel.

© Nader Abushhab
24-70mm (70mm), F/2.8, 1/1250 sec., ISO 500
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This is the same girl that was in the snakeskin shirt. We’d headed out north of Phoenix to do a shoot, and it was cloudy, around dusk, so the light was soft and diffused. Once again, I wanted to bring out her personality. She climbed up onto the side of a pickup truck while I crouched down to shoot from below. It makes her look powerful, but also feminine with that pink cowboy hat and shirt. It’s an homage to that fun, young Western vibe we’ve seen a lot of lately.

© Nader Abushhab
35mm, F/8, 1/100 sec., ISO 400
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This guy works in the photo lab at the studio I rent out of. I was working on some fashion and beauty images when he happened to pass by during an outfit change, and I had him jump in. We took that portrait in a matter of two minutes. Even though I was in the studio, I tried to mimic the lighting I’d achieved with the Sunday Funday model. I enjoy trying to re-create looks I like outside in natural light when I head indoors. The second he walked into the light and I saw how it was hitting him, I thought it made him look so cool.

© Nader Abushhab
24-70mm (31mm), F/5, 1/80 sec., ISO 400
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This model is a local burlesque performer, and her energy onstage is fantastic. She really pulls the crowd in, so I didn’t want her to feel stiff in her portrait. I had her dance and spin around and flap her fans in front of my camera, and at one point she passed by my camera with her fan pointed toward me. I said, “Wait, let’s do that again.” I instructed her to do a few of those to create this frame-within-a-frame. It shows off that energy I talked about earlier and makes her pop in a dramatic, dynamic way.

To see more of Nader Abushhab’s work, check out his website and his Instagram.






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