The Realist // Stephen Cefalo - Cool Local Businesses

Last week I jumped back into the Cool Local Business Owners series and got things started off right with one of the coolest and most talented guys I know. Steve Cefalo is a painter, but that word doesn't really do it justice. He's not just a guy who paints good pictures, he's like an alien from another planet with superior abilities that landed here on Earth just to demonstrate to us humans what is truly possible with paint and canvas. 

I stopped by his Argenta studio last week to hang out for a bit and chow down on a Big Bacon Classic while he worked on one of his current projects. It was really interesting to talk with him about light from a painters perspective. As a painter, he can really create whatever light he sees in his head, but for him - as a realist - his light must be believable, and he lays it down masterfully. 

I set up a few lights in his small studio as he worked and shot a few photographs of him in his element. Here's a few of my favorites. 

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

With the limited amount of room for my big clunky gear in his studio, I basically had just enough room to set up a big octabank (high to camera left in this photo) and I made use of one of his studio lights for the rim light, which had a nice orange color tone, and it complimented his style nicely.

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

I love these two portraits (above) - especially the one on the right with the skeleton peeking over his shoulder.

My favorite from the whole shoot is this last one (below). For this shot I changed out my big octabank for a small gridded strip box and pushed it as far left as I could without knocking over various paintings and books stacked on the wall. I moved his big orange studio light around to the right, pointing both at the back of his head and the painting on the easel, and dragged the shutter just barely to give the light a small amount of influence. I also placed a small speedlight on the wall behind the easel and aimed it at the amazing minotaur self-portrait on the wall in the background, just to show that it's there. I also had to sneak the skeleton in there a bit closer. 

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

Stephen Cefalo in his studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. February 2014. Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

It was really cool photographing a guy who knows so much about light and posing. He was more self aware (in a good way) than anyone else I've ever photographed. He knew exactly how and where the light was hitting him and he gave me the exact expressions I was looking for every time. His painting style is dark, emotional, moody, and even somewhat disturbing, and working in his studio made it really easy to motivate that style for these images.

Double big thanks to Steve for letting me crash his studio for awhile! It was super cool getting to see some of his works-in-progress and to just watch him do his thing for a while. If you're interested in painting and realism, check out his website here. I guarantee it will completely blow your mind. All of his paintings are for sale and he is available for commission. You should also follow him on Instagram, where he has over 10,000 followers. Awesome. 

Thanks for reading! Next up in the Cool Local Business Owners series: White Goat in the Heights, Georgia James Creative, Waffle Wagon, and hopefully Hillcrest Artisan Meats! If you know of a cool local business owner that I need to feature on here, submit a nomination anywhere you can find me online!