Finding My Success by Exploring Light

I feel it is important for me to pass along the things I’ve learned on my photography journey. In the last few years I have also had the opportunity to teach and lecture all around the world including some of the industry’s top conferences, including the first conference I’d ever attended when I was starting out, ShutterFest. I’ve begun hosting my own workshop, The Embrace Workshop, a comprehensive photography workshop where I help new photographers expound upon their current training to grow their business just as I’ve grown my own.

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How to Take Your Lighting to the Next Level

From a professional point of view, understanding light and being able to execute your vision 'at will' despite the time of day or the location makes you an incredible asset to your client. Light is both an art and a craft. This broad spectrum can make lighting a daunting task to learn and teach. However, one simple philosophy of light can help clarify everything. There's good lighting, there's bad lighting, then there's the RIGHT lighting to help express the emotion you want.

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5 Tips for Shooting the Milky Way

There are a lot more advanced techniques that will produce greater results, but everything I’ve explained here will get you off to a great start. I’ve seen photographers with the most expensive equipment take Milky Way images that were “meh” and others with starter cameras create mind-blowing images. The key takeaway here is that your imagination and planning will produce better images than advanced techniques and expensive gear. Keep it simple. Stick to the basics and plan your shots.

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High Key, Low Budget

High key lighting is a highly sought after and easy to create technique when you know how to do it. In this month's feature, I’ll show you how to create beautiful high key lighting on a low budget. I’ll take a reductionist approach, walking you step by step from the most complex, pro level, gear-intensive method, to a great 50% midway point, and then to our final 1-light method, the subject of this month’s tutorial.

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One Window, Multiple Shots

The versatility you can achieve with just one window is amazing. I’ve often heard the excuse, “I don’t have a beautiful space or home to shoot in.” At one point in my life, while my family was in the middle of building a home, we lived in a tiny, old, drafty apartment. It was far from picture perfect, but in the right light none of that mattered.

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Low-Cost Location Lighting

Successfully controlling the harsh light from the sun requires two inexpensive tools: a diffusion panel to soften the light and one or more reflectors to bounce light, fill in unwanted shadows, and create accent light. Both of these tools are available in a wide variety of models, build qualities, features, sizes, and price points. The good news is you can pick up basic models of both tools that do the job well for around $100. Not too bad for professional location lighting! Ideally you’ll also want a light-duty stand to use with the reflector and a sandbag or two to keep things stable in the event of windy conditions.

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Bringing Client Concepts to Life

All in all the shoot came together really well and my client couldn’t be happier. Bringing your client’s concepts to life doesn't have to be complicated or onerous. The key is good communication, a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish going in, and a simple, effective lighting plan. My advice is always to keep it uncomplicated and creative. Keep your eyes and ears open and always think about what you’re not seeing. The final you’re seeing here isn’t where I started out during this shoot. It’s easy to miss something potentially great when you’re in the shooting bubble. In my experience, the strongest image may not be the one you’re shooting but something still unseen and undiscovered. Stop, look around, reframe. You’ll be surprised at the hidden gems just waiting for you!

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