As a photographer in 2018, I can’t help but think of my photos as drops in an ocean of imagery. Here are a few quick stats: There are over 60 million photos uploaded to Instagram every day (not to mention Instagram stories). Then there are the photos posted to Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook (some people still use it, right?), blogs, etc, etc.
Then you have the printed image, with over 1,300 daily newspapers and 7,000 magazines currently in publication, in the U.S. alone. Then you’ve got ads, with the average person seeing more than 5,000 images a day. We
In my opinion, there’s an extra layer of believability — a tangibility, if you will — to using practical effects as opposed to relying heavily on post-production. Post work is limited by the breadth (or lack thereof) of imagination, which is why I try to get as much as I can in-camera.
The first time that I used a projector as a lighting tool was in a fashion story about vacation getaways I shot in 2015. I resorted to projecting exotic locales on a wall behind the model because it was February in Ohio, which meant the outdoor options available
I recently collaborated with food typographer Danielle Evans. She approached me with the idea of doing a beauty shoot except the jewelry would be made out of candy that she crafted. I was intrigued and immediately began planning.
I knew that when it came to lighting I wanted something bright and colorful to match the playfulness of the jewelry, but I didn’t put much more thought into it than that (I tend to wing it).
When it comes to lighting, I find that I move through phases. Last year, for example, I was really into hard light. While I still
I have a studio. For those of you that know me — the author of the Studio Anywhere books, which focus on shooting anywhere but a studio — this statement may sound oxymoronic or even blasphemous. Nonetheless, after years of shooting in my cramped basement, I finally outgrew my space and needed a slightly larger, dedicated space to have for working with clients.
After all, shooting business headshots in my suburban basement was not only inconvenient for clients, it was also a tad awkward for everyone, and at times, bordered on being unprofessional. That said, knowing how to create a studio anywhere was invaluable when I was searching for a rental space.
If you are anything like me, you are awed by behind the scenes photos that show sprawling studios equipped with hundreds of thousands of dollars in gear. It’s impressive. Not unlike how having a supermodel girlfriend or
Typically, the term “gobo” is reserved for the lens filters and patterns that are affixed to theater lights. The terms “flag” or “cucloris/cookie” are actually more accurate for what we’re going to be using in this post, which is an object placed between the light and the subject, but not attached to it.
For the sake of simplicity, however, I’ll use the term “gobo” to encompass all such modifiers. So, what can you use to make a gobo? Here are some ideas.
As I said, gobos can be quite literally anything that stands between your light and your subject. To block or shape light or create stylized shadows, you use an opaque gobo. Although you can use pretty much any non-transparent material, such as cardboard, foam core or poster board, cinefoil is the easiest to mold.
If you aren’t familiar with it, cinefoil is essentially a slightly thicker, black aluminum
Recently, I had a portrait shoot with the legendary poet, rapper, and actor Saul Williams. It began with a simple stroke of luck: I saw he was scheduled to perform at a local club near my house, and so I did a quick search for the name of his manager. I easily found it and e-mailed them, introducing myself and explained that I would like to take his portrait.
I said that I could meet him at the venue after the sound check and would need only 15 minutes. To my excitement, they agreed. His art had made quite an impact in my life, and so I really wanted to put a lot of thought into a concept for the shoot.
While revisiting his music, I had the thought that his voice, what he has to say, is a light in the darkness. This led me to the concept of
Ditching extraneous gear pays dividends when you’re traveling — and not only the ones you might expect.
Suppose you’re booked for a photo shoot in a foreign country. Because you’re not allowed to be in a foreign country to conduct work without a work permit, you have two options. You can get a work permit, which takes time and money, or do what I do: travel with a minimal gear kit to avoid suspicion.
Not only is it easier and cheaper to do it on the sly, but travelling light (pun mildly intended) also helps you avoid checking bags.
I’ve shot in Brazil, Japan, Tanzania, Jordan, and Iceland and not once needed to check a bag. By knowing the full potential of my gear, I can enter any scenario with confidence
“But, what about gear?” It’s a question I hear a lot. Broncolor or Profoto? Fender or Gibson? Lamborghini or Ferrari? Which toy/software/high-end piece of gear is the best so that I can do exactly what that photographer is able to do?
Yes, high-end gear is nice. Both Profoto and Broncolor lights will provide you with quality light at a high output with which to light agency-represented models in couture clothing. But how often is that caliber of gear actually needed? The question should not be, “Which expensive, high-end lighting rig should I buy?” Rather, it should be “Have I yet reached the limits of what my current gear is capable of?”
I’ve been asked why I opt for such a minimal or even anti-gear approach to photography, while other photographers laud gear upgrades. Well, it’s not a choice made on principle or even moral reasons; it’s one
This is the cheapest yet most effective photography hack I can think of. Step one: get disc reflector. Step two: cut lens-sized hole in said reflector. Step three: profit.
Seriously though, there is almost no reason to not do this hack. It’s one that I briefly showed in my “make the most of what you have” post published here last month, and in this post I’ll flesh out the idea a bit more.
First of all, the reflector’s fabric is really tough which means the hole will not spread. Secondly, the reflector can still be used traditionally, even with a hole in it.
The only issue that ever arises is if I am using the reflector to block the sun — now there is a spot of hard sunlight poking through. This problem is easily remedied: get a second reflector.
But… but… what about the Omega Reflector™??? Well, since you
My name is Nick Fancher and I am a Columbus, Ohio-based commercial and portrait photographer. I specialize in lighting — specifically with the use of small flash in unconventional locations.
My goal is to show that you can often create high-quality photos without using a conventional studio… and while using minimal, affordable gear. You just need to learn to make the most out of your environment!
Here are some examples of photos I’ve made, followed by behind-the-scenes photos and descriptions of the setups and locations I used:
As long as you keep your light from spilling onto the ground or background, it’s fairly easy to create an all-black environment.
What do you do when you are shooting a vacation-themed editorial? Get a projector, some free stock photos and travel the world from the comfort of a long, dark hallway.
All you need is a white wall, and pretty much every
I love hard light. I love the shadows it creates and the colors it brings out. I also love the convenience it affords. I work exclusively with small flash, and by using predominantly hard light in my images, I am able to travel extremely light, as I need few to zero modifiers.
In the above episode (#4) of my Studio Anywhere video series, I explore several different scenarios using hard light.
In the first scenario, I am using a homemade snoot that is two feet long. I also placed a “cookie” covering the opening, leaving only a narrow, horizontal opening for light to escape. The added length of the snoot allows the line of light that escapes to be especially defined, as the cookie is further away from the flash. The closer the cookie is to the flash, the softer the edges of the light will be.
In the second
As a junior in high school in 1997, when I was deciding which path I wanted to go down, fine arts or photography, things were pretty simple. Did I want to express myself with a camera or a pencil? Inspired by masters like Annie Leibovitz and David LaChapelle, I opted for the camera.
All I wanted to do was create beautiful images for a living. By signing up for a degree in fine art photography, little did I know what lay ahead for me.
15/100. John. John is executive director of Asia’s Hope, which is a non-profit providing long-term care for the orphaned children in Cambodia, Thailand and India- specifically those at high risk of sexual exploitation. This man has seen more tragedy than I can fathom, yet faces it head-on, for the sake of those kids.
My path to disenchantment with the art world started with my first art