Studio photography can be so creative. All you need is a subject and a light. But after you’ve mastered one light, the possibilities are endless. Ohio-based fashion photographer Ron Hautau created this striking series of coloured portraits using nothing more than a black background, 3 lights and some coloured gels. He explained to DIYP how he did it.
If you didn’t already know, the term Gobo is an acronym that literally means ‘Goes Before Optics’. What does that mean then exactly? Well, it’s simply something that goes in front of a light source, casting a shadow or pattern. This ingenious portrait series by Spanish photographer Alfredo González uses a hat as a gobo. Here’s how he shot it.
Trigger Warning: Yes these shots are of a young lady in her underwear and no that is certainly not necessary for this setup to work. Truth be told; we were working on a separate shoot and model, Grace kindly allowed me to quickly grab some of these shots to illustrate this article and lighting concept for you. The simple shots here are really only to show the lighting technique behind combining hard and soft light and what benefits it can have. Once you understand the reasoning and benefits of lighting in this way, you’ll quickly realise just how far you can take it and how versatile it can be.
Like I mentioned, this hard-&-soft-light-combined is a very simplistic concept at its core and once you see it in practice, you’ll quickly see how you can develop it further with other modifiers and setups. So although I don’t use this particular method myself any more today, I used it a ton when I started to play with it many years ago for headshots and hair campaigns. To understand the benefits of lighting with hard and soft light combined, let’s first look at what isolated hard and soft light means to us as portrait photographers.
There will always be ‘classics’ in any industry. Sure these classics may not turn heads or make the headlines and they may even take a dip in popularity for a while, but these ‘classics’ will always be a timeless safe bet.
Fashion has its ‘little black dress’ and ‘tan trench coat’, cooking has its lasagne, burger, pizza, and many, many more. They’re always going to be winners in most peoples eyes and they’re as popular today as they were years ago, plus they will undoubtedly be popular for many years to come.
One of my favorite things to do is using gear, props, or arts & crafts materials in unconventional ways. It often gives unexpectedly good results and you come up with some great new techniques. This is what Miguel Quiles does in his latest video. He uses a beauty dish in a way most of us probably wouldn’t, and he ends up with fantastic results.
Although a single light doesn’t seem like much, there’s a lot you can do with it. From some more traditional setups to unusual horror setups, a single light can really be extremely versatile. In this video, Manny Ortiz will show you the best, but also the worst ways for using a single-light setup in only three minutes.
Studio lighting can be tricky, but in reality shooting, in a big open studio space with all the fancy modifiers and stands is a damn sight easier than shooting in a small, cramped on-location space.
“But Jake, surely all professional photographers get to shoot in nice big, bright, airy studios all the time right?”
Wrong. In fact part of the job is having the ability to shoot almost anywhere and for those of us who end up shooting fashion and editorial style work, we need to shoot in some very awkward spaces. From underground nightclubs, fancy bathrooms, or even smaller European homes, all of these small spaces present a multitude of problems and if the client wants to shoot there, it’s your job to make it happen.
A little while ago I was teaching one of my lighting workshops and one of the attendees was looking to implement some of the set-ups I was sharing into his workflow. Seems simple enough right? Well it turns out this photographer was a Formula 1 trackside shooter that needed to get portraits of drivers and crew. As you may well imagine, there is limited time to setup a photoshoot in a busy pit-lane on race-day, so he was after lighting modifiers that would be suitable for his slightly more ‘run-and-gun’ portraits.
When shooting in a studio, you can use V-flats in a variety of ways. In this video, Lindsay Adler shows you three simple setups you can create for beauty photography using V-flats. Each of them requires subtle changes in the setup, yet they’ll all give you drastically different results.