South on Main // Matt & Amy Bell - Little Rock Restauranteurs

I had the awesome chance to photograph Matt & Amy Bell this week as part of my portrait series featuring cool local business owners doing awesome things in central Arkansas. Matt and Amy have taken over the old Juanita's space on south Main Street in Little Rock and they are in the process of renovations to relaunch the space as a new restaurant called South on Main

For this portrait series, I wanted to meet some cool people and learn more about whats going on in Little Rock as well as promote those new-ish businesses that people are taking big chances on. As a business owner myself, I understand how fun and risky and exciting it can be to start something new and I always like to do anything I can to help people chase down their dreams and make them a reality. Little Rock has become such a cool place in just the last two or three years and this portrait series is my way of setting out to discover its hidden gems and help the city continue to thrive and grow. 

When I arrived at the South on Main location I was immediately drawn to this awesome circular couch thing in the front entryway and knew pretty quickly that my shot would be anchored by that piece. The front windows were covered in paper held up by painters tape and I asked Matt if we could take the paper down to let the natural light from the street flood the space. As soon as the paper came down, everything came together for the shot. Here's the first one: 


The key light comes from the window in this shot and the rim light comes from a bare speedlight I hid behind the South on Main sign and pointed directly at the backs of Matt & Amy's heads. I also used an Alien Bee 800 with a translucent umbrella and the modeling lamp on (i.e. not popping) to light the sign and the floor in front of it. I dragged my shutter to bring up the  background and the modeling lamp exposure. I got lucky here because the color temperature of the modeling lamp was almost a perfect match for the sunlight coming in from the huge skylight over the bar at the top left. Once I had the lights dialed in I just had to wait for the right expression from Matt & Amy.


For the second shot I had a different plan in mind but this one came together nicely and ended up being a stronger shot than the one I had originally planned. I kept Amy on the couch in basically the same position as the one above and asked Matt to come stand behind her. I wanted a vertically oriented shot with the BAR sign framed in behind them. 

My light setup was exactly the same for this shot because I wanted it to pair well with the first shot but have a different feel. I've always been inspired (strangely enough) by ads and posters for weird reality shows on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel and I tried to get close to that with this shot. I love their expressions in this photo. Amy's eyebrow is just deadly. With a little bit of dramatic lighting and some help from your subjects you can really strike a nice tone. Nice job Matt & Amy. 
So those are the two shots I came up with for Matt & Amy Bell of South on Main restaurant in Little Rock - two people who are now officially certified as cool local business owners in my book. I can't wait for this place to open. After hearing about it from Amy and seeing it for myself I can easily say that this place is going to be a huge success. And with Matt's reputation as a chef it seems like a home run waiting to happen. Looking forward to it guys!
If you have a suggestion for another cool local business to feature hit me up in the comments and let's make it happen! I've already got a solid list built up but I could always use more!