Roberto Valenzuela will be teaching at Photoshop World Las Vegas, taking place August 21-23, so register now to come see him in person!

Behind The Shot: A Look Into My Process

Today I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from international workshops, along with the stories and techniques behind them. I’m also including the EXIF data of each photo so you can see my settings. Enjoy!

Behind the Shot: Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam: Roberto Valenzuela

Female model, Yen, posing in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo by Roberto Valenzuela.
Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: RF 28-70mm F2 L USM |
Focal Length: 50 mm | Exposure: 1/100; f/3.5; ISO 400 | Flash: 2 Profoto B10 flashes used

During the shoot with model Yen, it began to rain. We were stuck in a little neighborhood in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. While we waited for the rain to recede, I was inspired by the old world look of the neighborhood in front of me. To add to the nostalgia of the scene, I used a technique I created called “Flash Flare,” where a flash is inches from the lens pointed right at the lens to hit the sensor.

BTS Video by: Tyler Austin

Because I wanted to add to the old world feel of this place, I added a ½ CTO filter to the light to give it an “In Camera” vintage look. I posed the model as if she was taking a stroll around her neighborhood. Another flash was used to illuminate the model.  The officer on the motorcycle to the right, contributes beautifully to the cinematic old world feel of the scene.

Behind the Shot: Hanoi Vietnam

Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: RF 24-105mm F4 L USM |
Focal Length: 24 mm | Exposure: 1/50; f/3.5; ISO 800 | Flash: 1 Profoto B10 flash used

This photograph was created with quite a bit of luck. The model Thuy was actually the MC for the Canon EOS R event in Vietnam. I asked her if I could take some quick photos of her in the old district. With her beautiful red dress, I thought it would go nicely with the old vintage feel of the old district in Hanoi.

Behind the scenes shot of the setting.

Once there, to my surprise, we ran into these two soldiers dressed in uniform on the street playing a game. I politely asked, with the help of my translator, if we could include them in the photograph. Not only did they say yes, but they were excited about it. To bring visual attention to our model Thuy, I used a Profoto B10 with a beauty dish to illuminate her.

Behind the Shot: Hong Kong

Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: RF 28-70mm F2 L USM |
Focal Length: 28 mm | Exposure: 1/400; f/6.3; ISO 1600 | Flash: 1 Profoto B10 flash used

This photo was taken in a very odd place. As we explored our surroundings in Hong Kong, I noticed a tiny little island on the Google Maps app on my phone. This island is called Magazine Island. Even though it was a long shot, I asked our boat driver if it was possible for us to go to that island. She laughed, but she did it.

Once we got there, we hiked to the top to take advantage of the interesting rock formations. So I asked the model Fanny to lay on the floor and frame her face with her arms. We used a Profoto B10 very close to her face to create this flattering illumination on Fanny’s face.

Behind the Shot: Singapore

Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: RF 28-70mm F2 L USM |
Focal Length: 28 mm | Exposure: 1/800; f/3.5; ISO 100 | Flash: 1 Profoto B10 flash used

The Singapore skyline is one of the most beautiful skylines in the world. Our hotel had a roof pool that had the most perfect view of the skyline. To make it more interesting than just your standard photo, I changed my Kelvin temperature to 3000K.

This change made the entire scene blue. To create contrast, we placed our Profoto B10 with a ½ CTO gel over the flash head. I love color grading on camera by combining interesting Kelvin temperatures with colored gels that create contrast.

Behind the Shot: Taipei Taiwan

Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: RF 50 mm F/1.2 L USM |
Focal Length: 50 mm | Exposure: 1/200; f/1.2; ISO 100 | Flash: 1 Profoto B10 flash used

The little photo shoot we tried to do in Taipei did not work out because the event ran very late and we lost all light. However, I didn’t want to give up trying to at least get something. So we just did what we had to do and work with what we had available to us. The only place we could shoot was in the getting ready “green room.” Even though the room was very small and it was full of food and drinks from all the people working the event, I knew with strategic planning, we could get something beautiful there.

To create a very soft quality of light, I asked the people there to place paper towels over the light until it was the perfect amount of softness. I was attracted by the monochromatic look of the Model’s dress and the off-white wall. But because it was a wedding theme, I thought it would look great making it look romantic and soft. This photo turned out beautiful and it is a good example that we don’t need much to take great photos. We just have to use our knowledge and problem solve the situation.

Behind the Shot: Hong Kong


Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: EF 70-200 mm F/2.8 L USM |
Focal Length: 75 mm | Exposure: 1/200; f/3.5; ISO 100 | Flash: 1 Profoto B10 flash used

I really enjoy letting the location inspire me. Sometimes, we don’t know how or where we want to start shooting. But by simply walking around, you can get inspired by the things you see.

For example, the dragon was just too cool to pass up. Because the dragon is portrayed as strong and fierce, I wanted the model’s pose to be even stronger and dominant. Therefore, I posted her in a more masculine way with strong lines and a calm demeanor in her face to showcase her dominance over the dragon.

Behind the Shot: Hong Kong

Camera: Canon EOS R | Lens: EF 70-200 mm F/2.8 L USM |
Focal Length: 70 mm | Exposure: 1/400; f/4.5; ISO 400 | Flash: 1 Profoto B10 flash used

Sometimes it is best to stop and think what the obvious photo would be in a location, and then do something different.

As you can see by the BTS photo, the location was striking, and the sunset was just stunning! I knew the obvious shot would be a landscape photo that shows the sunset. Therefore, I decided to NOT do that and try something different. What’s the fun if we all do the same things, right?

Roberto Valenzuela is a photographer based in Beverly Hills, CA.  He has been honored by Canon USA to be one of the few chosen photographers to be part of their prestigious Canon Explorer of Light program. His first book Picture Perfect Practice was the #1 best seller in Amazon for the wedding photography book category. His second book Picture Perfect Posing has also joined the ranks of its predecessor as a best seller and has changed the way people learn posing around the globe. Picture Perfect Lighting has also ranked as the #1 top selling book in the world for lighting books. His newest book is titled Wedding Storyteller Vol. 2, the follow up to the incredibly popular Wedding Storyteller Vol. 1.

You can see more of Roberto’s work at RobertoValenzuela.com, and keep up with him by following him on Instagram at @Roberto_photo, Facebook, and Twitter.

In addition to seeing Roberto live at Photoshop World Las Vegas from August 21-23, you can also join him at his Posing Workshops this fall in these cities:

September 24-25: Houston, TX
Oct 9-10:
Salzburg, Austria
Oct 21-22:
New York City, NY
Nov 6-7:
Los Angeles, CA
Nov 12-13:
Napa Valley, CA
Dec 3-4:
Miami, FL

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