First, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way. The background was simply a sheet on the wall and was lighted with two Elinchrom Quadra set at f/11 (about 1½ stops over the setting for Cate). Cate was lighted with a single Elinchrom Quadra shot through a white umbrella at about eye level and to her left—I wanted a slight shadow on the right side of her face. I used my Nikon D800 and 50mm f/1.8 lens at f/6.7. The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is especially sharp at f/5.6 through f/13; this f-stop also makes sure that when I focus on her eye, her entire face will be in focus.
To me, Cate’s best features are her eyes and her mouth—and that is what I tried to emphasize in the photo. I wanted this image to be straight-on to show off those features.
Camera settings: Nikon D800, 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 200, f/6.7 at 1/125th of a second.
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon portrait preset, set white and black points, added vibrance.