Wolverine: personal portfolio shoot

POSTED July 15th, 2011 UNDER Creative Portraiture, Personal work, Photography, Portraits

Continuing with shooting more personal work closer related to my hobbies and what I had started with the Legend of Zelda shoot, this time I turned my focus to my hobby of comics.  And let me tell you, I couldn’t have found a more perfect model for what I wanted to shoot:  Wolverine.


Matt Smigiel is a recent graduate at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, and does fantastic cartoon and comic illustration.  His senior thesis was a 200 page graphic novel “Iris” which is complete and is currently being submitted and shopped around.  I’m really looking forward to seeing it published.  Matt is one of these guys that is in amazing shape and is just a damn good looking man.  He’s also a big Wolverine fan, so when I saw him and started to ask if he’d be interested in modeling for me as Wolverine, he was over the moon with excitement.

A few months back, I picked up a set of Wolverine claws that were fabricated from the molds of the movie props, knowing that someday I wanted to do a Wolverine themed shoot.  I just didn’t know how soon it would actually be!

After emailing Matt a few times, he agreed to make the drive from Connecticut to NH and spend a day with me here at the studio and the surrounding areas.  We started shooting inside the studio, but the weather happened to be the hottest in weeks, so we did limited shooting inside since the studio was really hot.  We did one setup with Matt inside, for what I knew would be the “Movie” poster shots of him:



Wolverine: Return of Logan




Matt relaxes while we get things set up for the studio shoot


shooting begins

Studio shooting begins




studio shooting

Shooting in the studio



Once we got the studio shots done, we decided to move outside and begin our location shooting.

Our original plan was to once again use a fog machine, much like we did for the Legend of Zelda photographs, but the fog machine refused to cooperate with me during testing the morning of the shoot, and so we had to scrap using it.  I’m hoping it is just a simple clogging issue and not something more serious.

We loaded up the Jeep and set out for our first location, a few minutes away from the studio on the other side of the Nashua River. (please ignore the Tidy Cats litter container!)

gear in the jeep

The Jeep loaded with gear.


beauty dish

Setting up some gear (beauty dish)


1st location shoot

First location setup.






1st location setup

First location/setup.


Checking out the images we just took.


From there, I went for a natural light setup, which ended up being the winning shot for me.  The lighting was perfect falling on this grouping of leaves.  All I had Matt do was stand in the center and found the exposure I wanted.  This setup couldn’t have been simpler to shoot.  This shot is far and away my favorite from the session.  I had him move his head to the side, and this perfectly encapsulates the feeling of a film-still.  I love this shot.  This was the moment when trumpets began playing and angels started singing.



and an alternate version:



I'm wolverine

Claws: check. Bad 80’s headband: check. DISCO WOLVERINE!

Once I felt we had exhausted that location, we moved back to the building my studio is in, and we did some shots on the first floor hallway near the back of the building (almost where my studio used to be originally)



After a nice dinner break we moved over to Mines Falls Park and an open field.  For these images, I simply wanted to do some experimenting with movement and ended up being very happy with jerking the camera to the side while taking an image.  The strobe I set up would capture the image, and a slow shutter speed would give me some motion blur as I jerked the camera in all different directions.

field shooting

Field location at Mines Falls Park

camera jerk

By jerking the camera to the side, I was creating motion blur.






umbrella head

Sometimes I feel I am nothing more than a softbox with a body 😉


We shot a lot that day; Matt arrived at 2pm and we shot until 9pm with a dinner break in between.  I’m very happy with the results, even if we didn’t get to use one of our props (fog machine), and the day was totally worth it just for that natural light shot of Matt.  I ended up processing about 14 shots, but I think my final edit would be somewhere around 3 or 4 useable images if I wanted too.

Remember, if you can get 3 or 4 good images out of a session, you are doing good.  Editing is just as important as shooting.  Ideally it all comes down to that one defining image; that one shot that makes the entire day all worth it.  I got that shot and everything else was frosting on the cake.


The winning photograph.  This is what it’s all about folks.


A big thanks to Dave Seah, so hung around with us all day to make sure I didn’t throw my back out and for taking the behind-the-scenes photos.  Dave rules.  Also a HUGE thanks to Matt for being my model for the day, for being a great sport (considering the weather was topping 100 degrees!!) and for being just as completely excited about this project as I was.  I really hope we can arrange another time to do some more Wolverine shooting in the future (when it’s cooler!).  A big thanks also to the cheesy head and wrist bands I bought at Target so I wouldn’t sweat and melt all over the place.  Sweat in the eyes sucks.

Thanks for not making too much fun of me wearing the head and wrist bands! 🙂


me and wolverine

Posing with the talent after we wrapped.

Take time to shoot things that are important to you.  Music, toys, comics, sports, animals, buildings, stars, trees, etc.  Whatever it is that you cherish, find a way to turn your lens and your creativity on it.  Show the world what has meaning to you.




2 Responses to “Wolverine: personal portfolio shoot”


    June 27th, 2015 at 6:35 am

    […] been trying to incorporate my geek passions into my photography when I can.  It isn’t as often as I like, and when the chance comes up I […]


    October 20th, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    […] years ago my buddy Matt Smigiel got together and did a Wolverine-inspired photography shoot.  I’m a big comic-book fan and I had a ton of fun with Matt that day, and […]

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