The Luthier – Cezar Mateus



Cezar Mateus is Lute maker based outside of Princeton, NJ. He has a workshop at his house with all the tools and machines and there are many lutes in various stages of production. The workshop is very organized with full scale drawings, and the exotic woods needed to make the instruments, some that have been drying for years – all labeled.

The portrait of Cezar was taken in the house, I really liked the openness of the space and the many beautiful objects – art and antiques tastefully displayed. This was a natural light portrait – I saw the contrast of what I wanted right away – the sun was very bright that day and bearing down in the room I shot from through a big skylight – it cast just enough light onto the subject.

One of enjoyable parts about this particular session was that Cezar was playing the lute the entire time. Sometimes you have to figure out the portrait – should it be posed, looking into the camera, or casual where the subject is engaged with their work. I think I default to the latter, but perhaps should do both. Not all subjects are comfortable with posing, let alone being photographed. There is also the time aspect, you don’t want to exhaust your subject by trying set after set and over stay your welcome. In this case though, Cezar was playing a beautiful movement written for the lute for about five minutes, which gave me plenty of time to frame the shot.