We train our team in four technical elements: lighting, composition, posing and storytelling. Light is the first thing our photographers must become proficient in before moving on to the next subject. Lighting is essential because without it, we don’t have a picture. The word photography literally means “the study of light,” so to understand lighting, the first thing you need to understand is how to recognize it.
The longer I’ve made portraits, 40-plus years, the more steadfast I am in the belief that it all starts with lighting. Whether soft, hard or anything in between, each quality of light and shadow imparts emotion and drama to help tell a unique story. Lighting’s job is to support the story you’re trying to tell rather than distract from it.
Off camera flash for dramatic portraits is something we are known for. If you are a wedding photographer, you are always searching for the perfect shot for your clients. Each client, each scene presents different challenges. In this shot, we took this during a wedding in Florida. As you are…
What is great light and how do you create it? First, learn how to think about light and develop a lighting vocabulary. This will help you make informed decisions about tools and techniques. When you’re developing an understanding of lighting, the fundamental concept to embrace is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every situation or subject matter.
Flare is perfect for adding drama and sizzle when creating images of actors, musicians and other entertainers. Think Dreamgirls, Beyoncé and countless other subjects where one or more lights behind the model creates a dramatic entertainment-oriented background effect. With a little know-how and a few lighting modifiers, flare in the studio can be harnessed as a worthy addition to your lighting repertoire. In this article, I look at creating flare using studio strobe.
We need all the tools, techniques and creativity we can muster to tackle whatever situations we encounter when we’re crafting killer images on location. Sometimes available light and a reflector, scrim or both get the job done. Other times, Mother Nature needs a helping hand from a flash. Balancing ambient and flash doesn’t mean each source contributes the same amount of light. In most cases, ambient light is the dominant source providing the majority of the illumination in a scene, while flash adds additional light where needed. You may need very little light from your flash to get the job done, while other more dramatic looks call for more flash and less ambient light. Having these creative options makes incorporating flash into your ambient shoots so compelling.
Creating lighting styles is a lot like cooking. You start with an idea of what you want and season to taste, adding what you need as you go. Each step taken on the path to achieving the look you’ve visualized is a series of building blocks with an eventual whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Readers of this column know I’m a big fan of working with one light, but there are times when additional lights are called for. This month, I turn up the heat and show you what’s possible with four lights.
Finding the right light indoors can be just as difficult as on location. This article looks at a few setups for studio-lighting seniors. Each image has a pullback showing how the lights were arranged, the equipment used and the setting for camera and lights.
Emotion in your portrait work comes from your subject almost entirely, for lots of obvious reasons. That said, other elements in your portraits can affect and enhance their overall mood—especially the lighting. Simple decisions about light diffusion can alter or augment the mood you are after. There are differing opinions on what light diffusion does to a portrait’s mood. It’s subjective. But there are some tried and true light diffusion techniques that work consistently to evoke or enhance specific moods in human subjects.
There are multiple ways to utilize color gels in your creative process. In this article, our goal is to create colored shadows on the background without painting the models’ face in different colors. To achieve this, we need to first know some basics about color models and color theory, so let’s start from there and work through the making of the image.