Being a photographer by trade, I decided to try and start shooting portraits of some of the Icons of Cigars when I am able to get them in front of a camera. I went to a José “Don Pepín” García event at my favorite cigar shop in Dallas, Cigar Shop and More in Addison last week, and Pepín was kind enough to sit for a photograph for me.

Now, when shooting a portrait of anyone, I try to do three specific things:

  • Keep it short — Nobody likes having their photos taken for more than about seven minutes and most times less than that.
  • Keep it simple — You don’t need a whole bunch of props or crazy angles to shoot a great portrait. Just and understanding of who that person is and what you are trying to convey to the viewer.
  • Keep it real — My portraits tend to be very realistic and I try to show the subjects as they really are, not a made up caricature of themselves.

For the first couple of photos I tried to use an off-camera light as the main source of light, but I was not liking the look I was getting from the background. So I asked him to just light a cigar and I turned off all the lights in the room and just used the light from the flame of the cigar to light his face. It also made the portrait quite a bit more dramatic, which was a plus as well!

The reason I love the shot is in its simplicity. The fact that I was able to show him doing a simple act that he has probably preformed tens of thousands of  times in his life. It’s most likely something that he does not think about anymore, just a natural part of life for him.

José Don Pepín García

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.