Portrait – The “Bruce Lee Kick”

Posted on January 31, 2015 in Blog Post, Experimental Photography, Photography, Portraits & Headshots, Professional Photo Portfolio



This was the image that my client wanted to recreate.  A very famous photograph of Bruce Lee used on a poster.

This was the image that my client wanted to recreate. A very famous photograph of Bruce Lee used on a poster.

I was recently approached online by an elderly gentleman who wanted to have a picture of himself taken for his daughter. It was sort of a private joke between them, and he wanted to be photographed doing a flying kick, such as on a poster he brought in, of Bruce Lee.

While relatively fit for someone of his age, and a former gymnast, the problem of course was that he was 70 years old and not physically capable of such a dynamically physical action. A degree of illusion was required…challenge accepted!

At our initial consult, we discussed the final product, he showed me the poster, and I came up with some options for how to simulate this posture. I knew that this would require a background removal and a good deal of post-processing work in Photoshop. The key was to allow him to comfortably hold a position long enough to get some good and consistent exposures.

In the end, I decided we would use ropes, anchored to the heavy bag hangers I have at my studio, which he would hold to support his upper body. We then positioned his legs on a bench to get the look of the kick.

The images below were the two that I used to composite the shot, and serve to show you the solution I had.




Final-2After some work in Lightroom to adjust the exposure and even out the color between the two images, I took the images into Photoshop, knocked out the background and created a background graphic (the gentleman’s last name begins with the letter “Z”) and put the composite together, adding a gradient to the bottom of the image and a drop shadow to the figure, to give him some substantiality.


After some careful dodging and burning, clone stamping, a bit of warping and re-painting, I then took this image back into Lightroom to do some color grading, adjusting the tone and contrast, and viola – a “Bruce Lee Kick.” Below is the black & white version.




The client was kind enough to leave a review of the experience:

“Exceptionally creative in conceptualizing how to arrange my body for a requested action pose; Undaunted by the many adjustments that were necessary to achieve the desired outcome. Very impressed with Anthony’s skills and accommodating attitude.
He brainstormed a way to achieve the pose I wanted, and spent a lot of time at his studio playing with lighting, showing me the images as he took them. He then made modifications as I requested, both at that time and afterward as he created various backgrounds I wanted.The photos are superb as a consequence. He got the pictures done in a timely manner. I will use his services again without hesitation, and will post one of the photos on my Facebook page for friends and family to see.”
– Michael Z.


After some consideration, the client asked me to pull out more definition in his abs. Here is the final version:




Hey, if you are seeing this, you are on my old blog. Be sure to check out my new website with my updated Headshot/Portrait Photography Portfolio here.