Portraits: The Secret Handshake, Luis Dubuc

Kicking off his headlining tour for Night & Day, Luis Dubuc – AKA The Secret Handshake – rocked the Firebird with A Cursive Memory, The Narrative and Speak.

Before the gig, I caught up with Luis for a portrait shoot with two looks – one outside nearby the venue, and another in the venue itself.

Photographer's Notes:

First off, I have to say that Luis was really a pleasure to work with. Super nice, really accommodating, and a great overall subject. While he mentioned that he felt he was a little awkward, I thought he was a natural and I did my best to convince him of that. I've shot awkward musicians in my time – Luis Dubuc isn't one of them.

Also, I have to give it up to Luis for braving the 45º weather outside. Guy is a trooper.

Cameras Used:

Lenses Used:

For this shoot, I went in with the intent of shooting with all primes. While I generally shoot with my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 for group shots and possibly the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 for individuals, I wanted to create a slightly different look working with Luis.

My main lens for the look outside was the Nikon 85mm f/1.4, which provides a nice level of isolation thanks to the fast aperture and short telephoto focal length. I love this 85mm focal length for half-length portraits and even full-length portraits, where it gives a really nice degree of separation at wide aperture.

Inside, the new Nikon 24mm f/1.4 was the clear winner. For this second look, the main game plan was to pick up on some of the existing lighting – a table lamp – and compliment that with a beauty dish.

By focal length alone, I could have shot this with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, but the beauty of the Nikon 24mm f/1.4 is that the fast aperture allowed me to still shoot at base ISO (200) for maximum quality while still letting in enough light from the incandescent bulb to provide some atmosphere and look natural.

Lighting Gear Used:


The key light used for all these images is my Chinatown Special Beauty Dish, which was held by my assistant Allyssa boomed on a monopod.

For the outdoor shots, I also used two bare Nikon SB-900 flashes for accent with the heads zoomed to 200mm for a tighter spread.

End Notes:

Big thanks to Luis, Allyssa, Jason, and Paul for helping make this happen.

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My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon Z 7:
I use two Nikon Z 7 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all mirrorless camera with amazing AF, great speed and fantastic resolution.


Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8S:
The 24-70mm is my go-to lens. The range is ideal for stage front photography and the image quality is superb.


Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.


Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.

See My Full Kit for Concert Photography

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