'Seeing Light'


Commercial Portraiture


Lesson Info

'Seeing Light'

so I have to say before we start that the last segment I made fun of my haircut and the guy who cuts my hair is watching the barber and he text me going hey hell man so I got to say shadow toe julius e v box barbara hello there it is okay so um okay so the next section that we're gonna go over is called seeing light right so when I think one of the most valuable skills that a photographer can learn is being able to look at other people's photography and being able to dissect it and understand where light is coming from understand what modifiers were used or what different tools were influencing that shot because if we can understand one light it means that you can understand a million lights right so I know for me when I was first learning looking at photography unfamiliar to me is very daunting you think oh how did you do this how did you do that really it's simple when you start looking at the directions of things where things were following where shadows are falling so I'm going to ...

teach you how I go and dissect light one of my favorite venues to dissect light is a movie theater because I think that cinematographers are extreme like masterful pain or sometimes with light so if you guys are like me and like you go to moving you can't focus on the actual movie and like totally ruins it for you trying to figure out like with the light you might be good at dissecting light okay so um the approach that I take when I'm photographing anything is an additive approach so it's not that I could just go to any scent scenario threw up like three four five lights and like know what they're going to do actually the steps that I take are very simple on their very step by step that's what I mean when I say additive approach so ah a lot of the times like you'll see later in the next segment I'm going to be shooting doesn't always look great when it first comes out of the camera but the goal is to know how to push forward okay howto modify and like tweaked the lights until finally you get the vision in your head out in the camera okay because weaken remember being on to see things and not quite being out with the execute them this all goes into added of lighting so there's a few terms which I'm going to define which define any kind of light okay and when we talk about images coming up we can use these definitions to describe what is going on in the photograph ok these aren't really the kind of textbook but they're also simplified they're just terms that we can use okay so I'm going to go in depth of what these things are on give examples but first let's just name them okay so there's main light and key light a main light for me I'm a portrait photographer so any of these definitions is going to be related to photographing people so the main light for me is the white which influences our subject the most okay could be coming from the front could be coming from the back at least it's doing the most to enhance our subject or to light our subject that's what I mean when I say made light next thing is is phil like so if you have say you're lighting my face here there's one light source coming from this way that side is obviously going to be thrown in shadow so you can say that looks good that's it or you can decide to fill it in and bounced back some of the main light or at another white source and get rid of some of that shadow I'll show you example later don't worry too much but that's called fill light next thing is backlight or rim light so remember that we are talking about photographing subjects on ly people here to meet a backlight is something which is separating a subject from the background okay so if we have a main light coming from this way we might have a rim light or backlight influence on our subject from behind making a sort of like three dimensional quality or three dimensional shape isolating them from the background or giving a nice strip okay we'll call that a back light or a rim light the next thing is very similar but I call it back round light because this now I'm not talking about lights hitting our subject I'm talking about perhaps hitting the environment where there at so for example here I am right there's lots of lights everywhere for me the main light might be these horses here have some back light going on here but a background white might be something that's like put specifically on this counter top or specifically on here or something on the print toe like highlighted okay I'm going to say that is a background light because it's different because it's not affecting our subject okay I'll give you examples for each don't worry okay hear this okay the next thing and the final pillar if you will the fifth thing term that we can use to describe light in the photographs we see is practical or ambient light so what I mean by this is when you walk on set or when you walk into a location sometimes there's lights already there could be a lamp on the table which has turned on it could be the light from outside and influencing something before you begin photographing could be a sunset it's just any light that was at the pre existing scene so if we're talking about using studio flashes mixed into the scene we can think about motivation so if this entire room was dark right and just my laptop screen was on all the lights wes will be coming from here right glowing on my face so if we want to dad other light sources to maybe make that light a little bit more flattering for a person this would be the practical light anything beyond that to enhance it would be something else okay so practical light is something that's actually on set so what I'm going to do eyes give you an example of each lighting sensible and each thing on dh then after we can play a little guessing game and we can see if you guys can dissect my images and I can tell you whether you're right or wrong or not because I was there on set okay so one thing that I think is really important to mention is that yes I've done shoots where I've used no lights just natural light and yes there's shoots where I've used one and there's some shoots where I've used like twenty different lights all for one picture right but the thing is is that does not define my style that doesn't define how my portfolio looks it's more just like knowing when to stop okay so sometimes I do a photo shoot and I have one life there it is okay we got it that's how I see this image going perfect wouldn't change a thing okay this is a good example it's a shoot that I did for national geographic channels killing lincoln film so you saw the movie posters earlier this's after those were photographed we went in and did some individual studies of the characters in the film okay it's really simple it's just I'm standing there against a background with one light so there's a lot of things which influence the style they're obviously wearing dark clothes it's a dark green background that adds to it but there's just one main light after I let that and did a test I had thought perhaps I might want to add some phil but to be honest like this it's it's a very dramatic movie it's a very moody atmospheric thing so I said that's good so once everything was in place with just one light which by the way was a uh breezy parabolic um soft white focused source which is kind of similar to this but it was actually a constant lights because we're also filming scenes for a video promo so it's kind of shaped like this it's a little bit more fine tuned but it's a constant light source I was shooting under so once that was set it was just a matter of opposing the subject within that light because we can get a variety of different expressions and different looks even just using one light once things are locked off typically don't move them I'm moving the subject instead right so if you look at the example on the left the light is coming from the left side right and on the right example the lights in the same position but we've turned his head toward the light right so we can get different examples and we could get a whole bunch of different variations on the same set up just with that light source by itself okay that's the main light because it's doing everything for the scene if we wanted to look at this image and try to figure out where is the position what we could do is look at the shadows right so we could see let's say on the right example the shadows are coming into this side of the face so the direction he's looking is probably where the light source is the other thing is we can see the contrast right so it's likely that there's maybe some diffusion over over the light or something soften it but it looks pretty harsh and pretty focused the other thing that we can do is look at the background right so see how close our subject is standing against the background we have a lot of like shadow falling that way so that can give us a good indication where that light is place okay here's another example about main light and this is something which is a little bit different than our last set up so I kind of had to be careful because we're shooting a few wide scenes we're shooting a few full bodies on that set up but for this was just portrait one of my favorite techniques that I like to use a lot on my work is wrapping light okay so we have one main light but it is look so close to the face like it's just off camera frame I'm always fighting it in the corner of my camera right when I'm shooting I'm always seeing like the corner of the octo bank right is because if we get that main line it's naked in extremely close to the subject's face we get a very nice quality so oftentimes I see lighting diagrams that says yes there is a soft box there or yes there was a knock to bang there but it doesn't really discuss how close it was to the subject's face right so let's think about what actually happens when you move a modifier so closest of his face here we have subjects with like dark dark skin right so that is a light source where it's like a flat panel of white and when it flashes their skin is kind of glistening so not only does it light and we have a nice soft source up close wrapping around our subjects but we also get reflection back off that light source right that's called like a speculum highlight okay so the highlight on the faces like bouncing back on soft box so if that soft box were farther away turned up to a greater power yes we would have the same exposure in our portrait but the thing that would be different is the quality right the quality of light the way that light is shaped and hits our subjects so personally for me when I'm shooting I liketo have my life sources snuck up like just as close as possible because that's how you get that like kind of contrast the wrapping light still speculator and still nice and contrast but like still sof okay um something interesting about these photos where they were taken inside of a hut okay and so I like this tiny little hut and the background is a collapsible reflector that's put so it's usually the blocks liner the other side is silver on dh that use that as my background so it was already claustrophobic to begin with so I kind of like had tohave the light sources close but if you look at their catch light which is the reflection in the eye of the main light you can see how large it is right you can see that just off camera there had to be an extremely large source before we move on to the next modifier do we have any questions about main light we do have a question online from a new a new dubai who was one of our regulars here from dubai who asked about is our speculum highlights good in commercial photo shoots and again if you could just go further into for people who are newer what speculum highlights are maybe some other examples and just the face it's it's this is a bad example to use that term exclusively so I'm just going to say highlights just to just to walk out of that hole that I'm digging myself into it's not speculate because there's no okay I'm just going to say highlights so our highlights important on commercial shoots yeah why not I mean to me I'm defying my defining my lighting principles to build a body of work and I will carry out those lighting principles for everything that I shoot that's sort of what I got hired for us to do what I do with lighting so I'll carry those out on personal assignments as well commissions absolutely yes sir you mentioned I think it's a catch light in their eye well is it ever too big is it ever too small is there something you should get yourself a ce faras lines goes oh no I think that having a little reflection of the main light back into the eye is nice because it gives like a lot of depth and it gives a lot of character right like gives little sparkle in their eye makes him feel like alive often times I'll be showing an example later is if you lose that sparkle you like lose a little bit of personality so for me like bigger smaller doesn't matter but one thing that does matter for me his shape I tend to prefer catch lights which are like circular so that's why I'm using like modifiers like this one instead of a square soft box is just because when you step back and you see a circle and someone eyes it feels more natural and less constructed because there's very like few square perfect squares in nature but there's a lot of circles right so I prefer circular shape size doesn't matter to me the bigger it is the better all right it took a couple of it's where the internet to get questions answered our s o one question from why tio your name how do you get exposure right for the main light without a light meter without a light meter good because I barely use one excellent question that you're a purist or just rolling in their grave no light meter so I mean just a lot of things come into play here but if we're just in a dark room with the main light I can speak on that is knowing your equipment is extremely important and knowing how powerful the packs are that you work with because let's say we have a pro photo seven b pack or anything really and we set the power setting toe like given a number let's say we set it to ten right that ten on that power pack is going to be extremely different amount of light being thrown through a soft box because it's going through you know a sheet of material than something like a beauty dish which really throws the light so there's not really if you're using a light meter there's not really a rule of thumb that you khun use because the light meter will give you great accurate reading okay but if you know your equipment I know my packs that I work with I can kind of dialling in close and since I shoot digital it might be like a matter of tweaking it and a few test shots on dh then we get it to a place where it has to go what I might use a light meter for as is more complex set up so if we're lighting say a white wall and the white wall has to be extremely consistent everywhere it would take a lot of test shots to get that right where it be simpler to get a light meter and say like oh okay here's the reading over there oh the readings less so can you pan that light this way so it's more even then we'd use a light meter the the great thing about digital is you contest like crazy and it doesn't cost you much because of film but what it might do is waste your time so there's no true way to read the power other than knowing you're here the question in the end there so like in the photo on the right there it looks like two pretty shallow depth of field because of the feather and then his back shoulder there so when you went into this did you go into this saying I'm going to shoot this that really shallow depth of field that's what I want or is that just kind of ah you're willing to adjust the aperture based on the lighting scenario yeah so I do prefer shallow depth of field because to me it makes the image feel more painterly okay this is something that I desire in my own work when I say painterly I mean like think about paintings and like brush strokes things are like fuzzy around the edges and we kind of draw the focus too I really like using like shallow depth of field so they were to approach this image that we'll probably be one of the first decisions I make technically as a photographer is like I know I'm going to shoot this as a as a two point eight okay because that's going to influence the look of the portrait the most right there's no other ambient light going on and these photographs were more or less a dark hut so something like shutter speed our story something like shutter speed matters less than aperture so I'll start there and that's when I'll start testing the light from there because it's going to influence and look the most if we're outside okay so let me show you on this example on the right see this shoulder right how this got like a little bit of light on it that's actually from a door inside the hut right that's a little bit of light come coming in so let's say I just a shutter speed right and I ramped it up that light would then become brighter but my flash power would still be dictated bye bye aperture going zach areas on you know one light nice nice so one question is from hq I am with strong highlights so close to the lighting how do you control the color balance balance between the shadow and the highlights the color balance between emotion I understand between the shadow and the highlights and she probably talking moron tone right because the color will be consistent throughout the shot if you're using like one light source that's the same color but I think what she means is eyes like how do you control the tone right so for example this image is pretty dramatic because there's not a lot of difference between the highlights and the shadows that's contrast right hi highlights low shadows that's contrast okay so in between those we have something called mid tone right so if there's not a lot of is if there's a lot of mid tones and nothing else than the image looks flat so how do we control that when we're approaching photoshoots eyes just with a different sources were shooting lights through so if we want something really really flat the lighting has to be flat and has to be from the direction where we're photographing right if we want contrast we turn the light to the other side and we shoot toward the shaded side of the face but how do you control this eyes just a matter of like using these different principles in different feel light and may light but we'll get there this is just one one of the starting places the questions are pouring and it's actually hard to keep up on the page right now this is a good thing all right another question from jacob's slaten and question is how big is a soft box and why would you choose that instead of a beauty dish or umbrella couple others had the exact same question I have probably four five go to tools that I use and all those things are them they have different uses okay so modifiers that I like our dr banks beauty dishes beauty dishes with grids inside them okay there's a difference right there okay um and I like using umbrellas to light flat surfaces like backgrounds so to me trying to determine which tool is appropriate for the job is based on the look that I want all these modifiers have different character characteristics about them so it just depends what I'm trying to go for I know that a soft box is a much softer source than a beauty dish okay both are considered soft source but I know that the shape that that gives is much different from the beauty dish so first what I would do is think about how my image wants how I want the image to look and then I would choose the modifier based on the image that I'm trying to make but she got here she asked about size for me you get into different techniques there as well because when something's larger right it gives more of like the wrapping quality that I'm describing right so as the octa bank moves closer okay it gets larger right so you could start with a smaller box and have it closer organ start with a larger source and have it farther away so all our great tools it just depends whether being used for if you want something that's sort of like good for everything what I suggest is getting something like this big I don't have big asses one meter in canadian terms but however many feed that is like just something nice that you can control because if you wanted more contrast e or harsh you back it out and turn up the power if you want to soft they're walking in closer so a question and I think that that person might also have been asking specifically about the images oh how did I do behind you because there was also a question about is the soft box and that image from kitty osh pointed directly at the subject or is it angled off and feathered okay well first of all the the octo bank is a seventy four inch ellen crone octa bank on a pro photo flash so not at stop box yeah yeah it's a knock to bank these ones with seventy four inch one for that trip um and if you look at the image on how the shadows air falling right in comparison to where the photograph was actually taken we could actually follow like a shadow patterns to know where the lightest right so the direction he's looking we have an indicator in the eyes and also the shadow's fine that it's very likely that the source is coming from that way right because if you have a flashlight in his play around right you can know exactly where the shadows are falling and where the light is and since I told you there is only one light source in this we can know exactly where it's placed so I was describing before that catch lights can be very good indicators of where light sources is so this is a good example of fill light and I don't spend too much time talking about phil light because I don't really use it that much in my work actually I prefer like really contrast he looks so it's not often that I'm bouncing out the main light with fill light right it's on ly sometimes when I'm trying to like get a little more detail in the shadows so this image I like to show us an example because it's extremely close up okay and we can see the reflections in the eyes here okay so if you look in the corner of his eye we have like a very large octa bank all right and then if you look on the left side we have like a little bit of bounce what that was was just like a little white piece of foam core okay what that did was when the white flashed hit the face right casted a shadow on this side of him and then that piece of foam court reflected that light back and filled in some of those shadows if that fill light was not here uh that side of the face those shadows would be a lot more intense right so for this specific shoot I don't have a full image but for this bit specific shoot it wasn't desired to be so contrast so we just added in a little bit of fill light another fun fact is like the more things that are reflecting in the eyes tend to make feel more lively and bright so you could change the shape of your fill light and your main light to get different patterns in the eyes this's something which is dictated by however wherever they're looking the next thing is backlight right so we talked about lights coming from the front ah a backlight is something which separates our subject from the background okay so on the screen now I have to examples the one on the left is a lot more dramatic than the one on the right so these were taken on a trip of mine to southern ethiopia and I only travel with one light right because I a lot of times it's like thrown in a backpack is very rugged to get around so I can only have one light source with me however since we live on planet earth with sun we have another life source always with us so as long as we can work with the sun at certain times it can become a backlight okay so looking at this image both okay the one on the left the one on the left was taken at sunset and the one on the right was taken at sunrise so this is a time on earth when the sun is getting at a right angle at an angle where it might become like a light source for us so to add a degree of production value toe what I'm shooting I have the main light coming from the front right and then the natural sunlight coming from behind now thinking about color balance since we're shooting at sunrise and sunset there's a lot of science that goes into this but essentially the light becomes a lot warmer right so I like mixing two color tones together because my strobes air all daylight balanced s oh it's like a nice white light coming from the front and then we have this sort of warm color coming from behind and when that's in a scene it gives that kind of motivation because the front light the main light is more of a beauty light highlighting our subjects face but they were like oh that's a son if the main light were to be color balance in the same way as the sunset what might happen eyes it's like what is there to sons like are we in star wars on planet tattooing this makes no sense so I like to highlight my subjects with the main light but maybe give them like a little bit of context or a little bit of a place in the scene with the backlight so another interesting thing that you'll notice is on the example on the left you know where the main light is because of where the shadows are falling okay the shadows come that way and that's the angle which I've choosing chosen to photograph so we can really see the backlight see how the areas falling into shadow and we get like a really really precise like kind of cut out on the shoulder from that son right so that's kind of strategic because if you look at this image I've done the same thing except opposite where the main lights coming from that way this side of the face falls into shadow okay and then we still get that nice like cut out from the back light if it were reversed and if this image on the left if the main light came from the other side then what might happen is you wouldn't really see that isolation it wouldn't be as contrast so I'm really being thought well worrying placing my lights to give it like the most dramatic look right so this example on the right is a little more subtle it's ah it's not quite flaring into the lens but it's still there and the same principles kind of apply these are two other examples of backlight so same pillar same principle but two different examples and again the one on the left is a lot more dramatic than the one on the right what I want to talk about is since we're talking about using a light source that we're not controlling we're talking about the sun it's constantly moving throughout the day changing our environment changing completely how it looks how is gonna influence our subjects so the example on the left is an interesting story because it's a rock hewn church in northern ethiopia right that you have to like climb up a mountain to get to inside this church is orthodox christian monastery where this this young fellow lives as a deacon so for about fifteen to twenty five minutes of the day depending on the season the light in the sun and the sky is at its highest point right so around twelve noon we have a light beam it comes down in that cave which gives like that kind of nice like oh right so that's only there for like fifteen to twenty five minutes for the day so when I had to do in thinking about backlight since I wasn't in complete control of it as I was the main light I had to tragically planet out so when I first arrived at the monastery I kind of like missed the light beam I saw it like just as I was going like no so what I could do was at least take the time to get to know who I'm gonna photograph because I could have photographed it then but it's like you know a guy I don't know why don't you stand here and I'm gonna let you with the tool you've never seen before on we're going to try to make you look like nice and calm okay like I just was like okay I'll stay here overnight and we'll figure it out so stay there over over overnight and I took like careful notice of the time next day when the light beam comes then I could strategically plan for it right as for main light you can see the direction it's just kind of slightly above him in the area that he's looking and that's how that image came to be so I'm not really a photojournalist photojournalist per se where I'm waiting for things to unfold around me that's not the kind of work that I do I really appreciate that kind of work but that's not the kind of photographer that I am instead I'm setting up these portrait around the world in the same way that I think about commercial work almost right where it's like a production the example on the right is another interesting thing because we spoke a bit before about sunrise and sunset so that's something where the sun is like red on the horizon we get this like beautiful warm light but this was shot in a rainforest in indonesia so you're surrounded by like thick thick trees everywhere and spoilage so what I had to do was find out the time of day in which the sun was that it's most low angle before being completely lost behind the trees right so I had the location kind of scouted out this is a young shaman who just had his initiation ceremony and this pathway is leading to us house so I stumbled across this area and I thought this looks great but I can't shoot it in the middle of the day because we're going to get like a lot of nasty shadows coming from above so I had to kind of like each day kind of like scope it out a little bit and monitor what the light was doing okay because the backlight is out of my hands it was in the studio and just be a matter of like placing it the right angle but I don't have that light with me so what I figured was if the son sets around like seven thirty in that area it got to his best height for me around five so I just set things up a little bit before that time in place okay I have a main light and then I have a back light if you look at the example on the right of the showman it's really subtle you can just see it just over his back right you see that kind of like high light you can see it on his leg but you can especially see it on the leaves and trees behind them so when I'm lighting anything breaking down step by step but I'm also being very methodical about how things are changing and how things were going throughout the day tomorrow when we're photographing in the room we have a lot of windows right so what's gonna happen is light will change throughout the day that's what we have to do so we have to always stay on our toes and be adjusting things and pay attention to the environment that we're shooting in um the next element is that we spoke about is background light so now you'll start seeing a few more commercial examples okay because now I'm maurine control I'm working in an environment where I have kind of every tool at my disposal but the rules remain the same so background light again is any subject which is affecting our scene but really isn't necessarily affecting our subject so if you look at this portrait it's when I took up danny devito for the show it's always sunny in philadelphia and this was a shot where I had to take it at high noon right it was just working with actors schedules so looking at this image we can tell it's high noon because we're outside and see the shadows from the awning on the building they're coming like directly down right so it's not really an ideal time for a photographer toe work because for my personal taste iss which was like nasty light typically we want us ah she would like magic hour right because we have that nice golden sunset but I had to make something work so the main light in this image is a beauty dish and we can know that by looking into his glasses right we see this kind of like I like donut shape of the beauty dish there it is there same thing it's kind of looked like a doughnut since he's wearing reflective glasses he's veering up we can even notice the shadows in the way that they're falling is a lot more harsh than something like a soft box still considered a soft light but not quite a soft is a soft box or octa bank now thinking about background light back to the point that it's high noon right so if I really wanted like rip lights really really high what's going to happen is the light inside of that building is going to be completely lost because we're over powering the sun with strobes to under expose it see the background is under expose guy so what happens is all those like normal lights that are on inside the building just get completely lost so we have to compensate with some stroke you have to throw stuff in there to become background light to pretend as if it's coming from the building so what I did for that was it was three different beauty dishes pointed up toward the windows and because they're a little bit grimy they actually caught the light and if those windows we're clear we have a slightly different look another interesting thing to know is you'll see the back round light has a little bit of color so those background lights are jelled which is to say put a color filter over them s so it changes the color the kind of job that was using this is a cto which stands for color temperature orange so when you put that in front of light it takes on the color characteristics so with him veering out the window and these kind of like lights blasting from behind no overall it works as an image because it's kind of tying together and like the comedic fill it might feel a little bit over produced for some of the other kind of like more intimate portrait that I do but for this kind of image the background light works because if those flashes were not firing from the inside all those windows would just be dark and we would not have such a dynamic image I was always wondering on that image why you put beauty dishes on the background lights is because they were really low and you need more spread or oh so why did I choose that spend a lot of fire for the job yeah instead ofjust reflectors on the stroke of two reasons one because they were just there on standby from another set but also because beauty dishes make incredible background lights and incredible back lights and here's why when I first started out I made the mistake of thinking all light coming from behind was the same doesn't matter as long as it's cutting out some some somebody looks good that's what I used to do you see is a lot of zoom reed reflectors and sort of harsh sources but what I found was a ziff you have like a soft kind of wrapping light from behind it looks much nicer and softer on the subject even from there so looking at the specific example why beauty dishes are great is because when they're far away they have like a large spread right so inside of this building it's a couple stories down where the lights were so if we use a soft box we would lose a lot of power because we're so far away from the windows so with the beauty dish it's reflecting off the surface and just like throwing the light extremely far so that was why the beauty dish was my choice my weapon of choice for this all right joey quite a few people have been asking on the internet actually the top question everyone has is your gear on location in the video especially and david marquez and also fill sacramento if you're traveling with just one light what's the light you're taking its right here beside me we've set it up strategically cause I knew people would ask this question um the light is my weapon of choice so to speak is I love pro photo gear but this is actually an ellen crow modifier ok so let's start with the white first the thing that I have is actually little bit outdated compared to this one I have a pro photo seven b power pack it's a battery pack that holds about like two hundred fifty two three hundred full power flashes doesn't need to be plugged in on dh then I have just like one standard pro photo head plugged in the pack but I don't use the pro photo modifier and said I found that alan chrome wants to be a little nicer little soft there um for the shape so the kind of weapon of choice nowadays is the ellen chrome rhoda lux and this is called a deep set octa so what happens is it is because the light's stretched so far back you actually get a lot of contrast because of that shape right so it's hard to describe it with words but this one would be like like like right and then like the larger one would be like all right so that gives like a little bit more contrast so you'll notice my personal work is like is like a little contrast it it's because of this modifier now in india I had a different version of this because I was actually working with people with a different kind of skin tone so that always comes into the into the question of what modifier ok so the one that they saw just now in the beyond video is the same ellen chrome rhoda look ox rhoda look octa bank but it is they are not so deep set and not so deep setback it's the version which is like a little softer on dh that's just has to do with like the skin tone and the vibe that I'm going for right so those like the skin kind of like a medium brown right of the subjects I was photographing as well as I knew that I wanted that particular serious to be like a little softer so the non deeps that version of this octo bank were best whereas this is something that will take teo something like ethiopia because it's a little more contrast t s so it kind of depends what the subject matter is and what you're going for but this is more or less the set up that I'm bringing I might just change the size of the oc to bake another thing to speak about travel is we want to be really savvy like I I'm bringing a lot of stuff compared to like what a travel photographer would bring like this is not normal but I am thinking a lot about size so I used to bring like the very large seventy four inch version of the allen crum octa bang but it was just way too cumbersome to carry so not even talking about how the images were turning out but it was actually hindering like us travelling so I had to like stop that so instead this is like folds up nice like collapses this really quick to set up that also influences my choice to make this setup here and do you always travel with somebody else to help you carry that gear yeah so yes and no sometimes I travel like with a friend or an assistant to help out more recently and other times what I've been doing is like training a local guy right so tray so it's much cheaper just to find someone there and to be honest if we're working with one light it's very simple just to show them like howto hold it on gets me a lot of times like running back and forth we just power be like no like not like this like this come on there's a big difference there's a lot of that which goes into it but for the most part I like the idea of traveling alone so I can train someone local to do this no problem it's just they might not know technically but I can tell them like more or less the position and they'll get good after a few days I think that's really cool that you are already training photographers around the world yeah I don't think they really know what they are but they know like that it looks good from this position and also when we approached those situations I'm not just saying oh light this I'm saying all right stand right here and hold it right there and I'll be right back something like that but you saw the varanasi videos with my friend ryan he knows exactly what's going on he's very technically trained hey does not come from photography background but he's done enough for me that he gets the idea all right we have a question here in this I have a question to the one that just came from the internet the the power pack in the head that using is obviously huge and heavy did you consider bringing something like the chrome ranger quite dress which was yes there are smaller versions made but the problem is is when you get a smaller pack they don't have a cz much power right so pro photo makes a great small pack is well called oprah photo acute and that I actually took with me to indonesia because they never had to overpower the sunlight much because we're inside of rainforests right but you know shooting and like the african sun is like you need a lot of power especially to under expose the background on the way that I do so for me the best tool right now eyes the pro photo packs or when you're saying from ellen chrome I know that moron color is coming out with a new system called move or might already be out very soon and I know that it's built a little smaller so for me like I'm not endorsed particularly by anybody all used the best tool for the job in the low lok location also in indonesia was like tracking a lot I was on foot so for that I had to take the smaller pack but to me I would worry about the power out put first and worrying about like my back the next principal which we can use to describe things is practical light okay so again this is the light which is like in the environment already pre existing before you got there and what you want to do is use that as motivation to how your light actually looks okay so let's look at this image unless he was going conversed its image for the tv show pawn stars on history channel and I've been photographing those guys since very early on I remember going to their pawnshop and like like it was normal business and then over time now there's like a line all the way down the block it's amazing to see what's happened to those guys right it's great so this was a shot for one of their recent seasons on which we wanted to kind of photograph them on the vegas strip okay now what happens on the vegas strip is we have a lot of neon lights okay these air ambient practical lights so making the decisions for these for this photo shoot I know I wanted to incorporate that into the image however I still wanted a beauty light on our subjects so the things going on in this particular set up is main light and the ambien practical light on lee so I had them kind of like walking in a formation and looking at at their face right now okay we see that there has to be a main light coming from the left side right because the shadows are falling that way it's my same you kind of like know what I like now is the alan chrome octa bank no surprise there okay and it's daylight balance but if you look at the light from behind it's extremely read an extremely warm that's actually coming from all the neon that's surrounding them and it was up to me to just drag to use a really high I s o to get a very sensitive exposure so that we can see a lot of that pre existing light and kind of like not have them walk too fast that was blurred like trying to drag the shot and get this light soaked into the sensor so I had the light in place they knew their formation in orderto walk because if cory the guy in the front were to take like one step back he'd actually be blocking the main light from chumley there right because we only have one light source so I kind of like a set up there they're like structure and I say keep this kind of distance and like let's walk through this a few times as they walked in like took the photographs reset go again so there was one studio flash but again the rest of the light is practical light what would happen is if we were to photograph him from behind with something that is daylight balanced the light would not be this color the light would not be this like like warm color instead it would be like a white light and what might happen is the image looks overproduced or the subjects do not fit inside their environment right it might look as if we photograph them and like cloned in the background so instead what I like to do with practical or ambient lighting is take in some of the light that's already there and augment it slightly with a beauty light so this is a prime example of doing just that we'll give you another example of practical light is this one here someone might recognize him he's nick duncan the guy who was poor fool how we showed I had to find someone I could feel comfortable approaching about this concept so I went to a friend first instead of you know trying to ask someone on the street if they would do this but yes so this is another great example of practical lighting because what happens is we have one flash okay it's a beauty light from the front it's a custom made globe that I bought two put around my lights we don't have it here but essentially the pro photo equivalent is called a pro globe it's like kind of like a a giant bulb which spreads your light out three hundred sixty degrees okay if you want to buy a broke pro globe that's fine it's like hundreds of dollars or what I do is I buy things that are on ceiling fans right so you can go to a bulb supplier source when I use is called a thousand bulbs dot com we're going to crash their website very soon um I go in there and I get the different bulbs for actual ceiling fans and I can put those over my lights to get this kind of look right so it kind of relates back to two china balls and in films so lighting with like this kind of like circular light source spherical light source if we look at next face okay it's kind of weird probably embarrassing right now but if we look at next face it's got to be a place like somewhere around here right because we look at the shadows of his glasses and like where that's falling that's the only light that's flashing and were shooting mostly at night time but was also going on in this setting is the ambient light okay so this is the light that's all in the sky behind him so it's happening as we have that main light flashing on then nick is left in darkness for the rest of the exposure so we're dragging the shutter absorbing all that light from behind into the sensor and layering layering wearing as a exposure goes on okay into this end of the sensor on dh that gives this like nice skylight of effect so the flashes a quick instant of time but those lights in the background are constantly on if you didn't want to drag the shutter what you could do is you could go claim every single building in manhattan and you could put a flashing it and give you like a similar kind of effect or you could use the light which is already there in the shot and just drag the shutter using a lot of the ambient light sources and using the practical light which is already in your scene let's take some q and a because after what I'm going to do is give you one more example and then we're going to play a little guessing game with the students all right let's do that go for it okay so in that uh pawn stars shot that you did why did you use did you use a low shutter speed urge you said use the higher sl yes a lot of this the slower shutter speed wouldn't work because we have action right so they're walking toward the lens as well as I was like walking backwards while I photograph this so if we had a slow shutter could be a mess because we'd have a lot of like blur from the light but yeah I started eso a hundred on the cannon one yes mark thanks probably right okay so we have a ton of questions coming in joey ah lot of them are about when you when you are traveling and remote jayousi said with backlight in open locations does joey use an nd filter on your lenses and that question has come up over and over about the nd and when and why the nd little little secret technique yeah um so let's talk about this for a minute let me put one of these things here okay so you mentioned you asked me about shallow depth of field right so what happens is on my camera uh the sink speed of the shutter only goes so high ok especially when you have maybe a non li shutter lens you have a pocket with it was trading a battery pack you can on ly get the shutter so high before you don't not see the flash so for example most camera sink speed sweet spot is around like one two hundredth of a second if you go over that you're going to get like the curtains think you're going to see like the black in the shutter closing before has a chance to see the light so what I have to do to compensate for that is used nd filters stands for neutral density so what I have to do is put these filters over my lens covering the entire scene and I describe it like this before but it's kind of like putting sunglasses on your camera so it's darkening everything what it's not changing the color and hopefully it shouldn't change the sharpness too much if you're using a good quality filter the ones that I use for those are they're used lee filters okay I love using the lee filter nd point nine because it gets rid of three stops of exposures three stops of exposure so when I use that in my lens I can get away with shooting something like a two point eight aperture if I'm not using that what I might have to do on images like this is use a smaller aperture something like f eight or a five point six and it's not desirable because everything's in focus so back what talking about before with a kind of like painterly quality of being very selective with where we focus and seeing on ly like the focus really kind of like lightly dancing upon the face we need to really shallow depth of field and that's why I use andy filter so in that indian video which was shown you probably saw it like me swapping them out and putting them in and like you know doing this it's just a trick that's used a lot in film and in video because film has to it relies on having a slow shutter to blend the motion together and if you shoot too bright light you put it in front of the camera same thing for scrubs all right speaking of back lights another question about that from joseph tyler he's asking that joey would you rather use the sun as a back light or create your own okay so when I'm in the environment that I cannot control that is very rugged when I can't travel with a lot of lights I'm at the mercy of the sun it's a great question because like I'm a control freak I can't control that thing it's like some days it doesn't come out or it's behind a cloud and you're like so if I'm an environment where I can control then yes I would love to throw up a light to pretend to be the sun absolutely I've done that many times and actually have the perfect example for you say his name is joseph joseph I have the perfect example for you coming up where have done just that and I've actually combined them both together but we'll get there you'll see it's your criss angel move right like here's comes a son exactly yeah I can't control the son I'm not a syria exactly so building on that question from key how did you set your white balance when you use the sun is your backlight and use the strobe at the same time you wanted the honest answer sure I shoot raw I shoot on a white balance kill me that's right kick me off creative life now it's wrong it's wrong no here's the thing is when I'm tethering to a laptop or if I'm photographing and I need the image to look a certain way to please other people what I will do is like toggle the white balance because as you're shooting and people want to see the preview it might help you to you know color balance a little little orange or a little cold right because you know how the final images kind of come out but to be honest when I travel I don't keep my settings on auto not at all the shutter speed an aperture or manual but the white balance I find my camera does like a pretty good job of reading if it's something that I have to custom tweet because other people are watching that will change the white pounds but because I shoot raw it's a variable that is meant to be changed afterwards so yeah I honestly you can look at my ex of data right now to check if I'm lying most of these are just like otto white bones that's great because it's wrong again that's raw double in sandra wait here we have a game to play okay love games around here yeah I'm going to give you a little a little pretext to the game first so I'm gonna give you one example of debunking one image and then we can do it kind of as a class k so let me give you this example it's something that's it's an onley buddy goody it's something that's been removed for my portfolio I don't think it's on par with the level of work that I'm doing now but I still think it's a great example for describing additive lighting and as a kind of workshop example to pick apart things and see where things were coming from so I'm going to do this one just to give you a little little workflow of how to do this so looking at this image let me tell you when I went into photographing it the first thing I did was I would look when I took the screen shot I had the the speaker on that's that's great ok ignore that that wasn't in the frame however when I went here the first thing I did was I just took a reading of the ambient light and in those days I like to really underexposed backgrounds I'm a little more fine tuned a little more subtle now about this but at the time I was taking readings of the light and just really under exposing it by a lot okay so this isn't an airport hangar it was a photograph of the jonas brothers for forbes magazine they're doing a story on how successful they were so is my job to sort of illustrate that in a photo series so we're in a private airplane hangar perfect okay so the first thing when approaching lighting in this sub in this scenario is we start with the main light right so I kind of like scouted the location took the reading on my camera to get just what the what the shutter is going to look like and then I can at that point start adding light because I know where the subject is going to stand so I started with the main light this was back in the days when I was using alien bees policy buff stuff and nowadays I've switched to pro photo alan chrome and bron color but back in the day I was using alien bees but I lit it and with their small dr banks source had had my friend will stand in in position let inside okay that looks nice that's a good position for the light if I were to reproach this nowadays I might make it a little soft there but that's what I was doing so this tests upshot here is the main light in position but then when you look at that you see he's like kind of being lost in the background right so it's my go to thing next is toe add the backlight right the back light on the subject in here it's a test that we can see it in the frame it's kind of giving like that little separation around the arm okay that would be my second light source the backlight then I look at this and go like subject looks nice okay if three guys stand there we still have enough spread for the whole thing to come together but now it's like there's not enough production value equality in the background so in the same way that I let the subject I could kind of do the same thing to the airplane but I'm going to define that as a background light because it's not hitting our subject backlight background light so looking at these two examples was kind of interesting because like it's very subtle but it really helps add a layer of production by just adding a little highlight on the top with that plane right when you see that it looks like there's more lies influencing a scene as the production value so if we look at the photographs yes at that time I like photoshopped the hell out of the sky like make it like a way to blue but all those lighting principles are still there and they're still the same so let's look at the lighting diagram for this exact setup okay there it is on the screen we have the camera which represents where I was standing when I was photographing we have like the kind of like star balls which are spreading the light that way andi we have like the airplane which I've constructed of reflectors in the program but it's just basically three light sources so the main light for the subjects backlight for them to isolate them from the background and then a background light for the plane okay so now using those terms okay I want to have a brave volunteer tryto deconstruct this image however know that if you volunteer now it's going to be a little bit easier because we're going to grow in complexity all right so let's have ah okay let's uh get you the mike and let's see here you're on the air here it is well that looks like here your room let your background well unless what well let's let's go in order here so let's see your main light yet it looks like a soft box just camera right about her what makes you think so you're very close but I wanted you to say why also you think this way well it's big it's wrapping the shadows down under her chin or soft is that in following off so it's a big light source big soft source right and then you just got the son is here back light you can see that coming through a hair and everything else exactly that's it so it wasn't a soft box but you're close enough it's actually this exact same modify except it's a slightly bigger version but yes so this was rowing in a boat in central park on this was a scenario where like we couldn't really light the hell out of the scene right we had permits for the park but like they were four million light so we had to use what was there in nature with the setting sun eso looking at this in a diagram is that boat with the light was rolling alongside us it wasn't so seamless and smooth as like the photo makes it out to be was more like how on it's like taking as a sail moving away okay it wasn't so smooth but looking at that we have the main octa bank and just the setting sun as he said giving a backlight to our subject uninterested point also to look at here is if you look at the shadows on the face and and you said this is they appear to be wrapping right they appear to be like really soft if this were a smaller light source those shadows would not have this characteristic they would be deeper they would be darker but because we're using something large push as close as possible to the face that's what's giving us like the nice quality of light so this was extremely difficult to control but I took like a lot of different shots and that was the best one which came out of it interesting to know also her position so she's turned toward the light right if she were turned the other way her face would be falling into shadow perfect let's do the next example this is a new shoot that I did for a national geographic channel programme called are you tougher than a boy scout and um I would like to have someone guess what exactly is going on in this image who's up next all right let's take a stab he knows it's going to get worse as it goes doing it while things are simple obviously you got the sun coming in from his back left so you could see that shadow coming down buys but that is the sun that is not a poor assistant standing in the wilderness with a giant it is the sun and then you could see the shadow behind the the ankles there so you probably have ah pretty hard light a camera right coming down on him on dh there could be some fill to the less there's not you actually got it this is an interesting example of using motivated light okay so what I've done here is I wanted the image to feel like realistic and I wanted to supplement the light slightly with a strobe to make it appear like it's almost as if it was coming exactly like from the direction of the sun but you were right in spotting that there's also something going on camera right so for this uh example it was a beaut dish with a grid all the grids doing is focusing the light on our subject and it's not really influencing the rock around that's all actually caused from the natural sunlight from the national sunset but if this image did not have the strobe firing we'd actually have a silhouette toward us right so in order for this image to feel like a high production value to feel like it's not just like a kind of snapshot of a boy scout sitting there we've let it but we've kind of stayed true toe where the sun's falling augmented it slightly on dh that to me is what I think is defining my style recently is seeing the light that's on set seeing where the motivation is and augmenting it slightly so it has a higher production value cool okay good work thank you alright who's next this is ah older it's it's an oldie but a goodie we're growing in complexity here can you tell me what you think is going on in the scene starting with the terms that we defined sure actually I was just gonna ask you a question about the previous picture but I will try my best well it looks like you were trying t question no it's okay I can see oh can I ask my question though because I am curious previous one did you end up using a gel for your gritted light since the whole image was as warm as it was I was just curious if you know what I did and I totally forgot to mention it so thank you for telling yeah it was cto in the same way that I described before it's a cto gel which I should have said but I'm glad you're here is to mimic the color of the light as well so yeah you're right thank you good bye but I'm not going to be so easy on you for this one yeah yeah this is the interesting one well the first thing that jumps out at me is obviously it's it's desk so you don't have a whole lot necessarily playing in from through your ambient light you have a pretty harsh backlight going let's let's start with which again is is that it doesn't necessarily have to be coming from the front but the white sorts which is influencing our subject the most which is camera left obviously it fills that front window a fair bet lining his hand and grooming his faces well exactly so you saw his hiss hiss hiss fingers here right you saw that it's kind of like giving like a nice little go here yeah it is the same like on here as it is in his face that is the main like good job like I said the back white to start a rim light kind of coming in off of his hair and from this world in the background yep so knowing what I know now this image is like years old if I want to do this now I probably would have taken a more subtle approach to it but there is another light coming in from this window giving this separation here absolutely good eye good eye and is there anything else going on in this uh scenario the rest of it looks like just the natural fall off of the two harsher lights to me but I might be missing something there is one other thing but we'll we'll we'll get there that's a very good job okay so the reason why I like to use this example eyes because it's a good example of position okay so when I actually first started lighting a shot I was extremely un experienced at the time I knew a thing or two about lighting but not quite as much as what I know now so when I actually first started lighting this shot it looked like this it was a mess it was from the front right the light was very flat if I wanted to walk the soft box up higher and give it more like angle it would have worked because there's a there's a car roof in the way right so we'll lose the lights and go god would know how god what what can I do to make this contrast he right so instead what I did was change my position so keeping all the light this is the exact same light as here nothing has changed except I've just walked around the other side and now I'm shooting from the shaded side of the face so often times when you see in movies when it's nighttime all they're doing is blasting light from the opposite side to give that shade it's like hey this not night at all there's so much light we're just going from the other angle so this is a good example of that so let's look at the camera are that where the camera is that represents where I wass and the subject is just sitting in the car so this point I was using soft boxes so there's a soft box kind of rested um on the car hood right and then you were absolutely right about that rim light but one thing I think you missed is there's actually a reflector which is filling in some of the shadows caused by that soft box so it's very subtle but I don't think you'd be able to see the degree of detail in his face and on the car door so that's actually bouncing that back as a fill light but very good okay let's go to the next one do we have a brave volunteer for this and I'll warn you that it's a little trickier than it appears yes he doesn't carry still going for it okay so mainly is a beauty dish but I don't know if it's silver wait okay well that's that's pretty precise I'd say that's okay no that's good and tell me what makes you think it's a silver beauty dish okay right what makes you think that has a silver white beauty dish flavor to it just that I know it is a silver beauty that's a silver being okay which just for those who don't know there's two kinds of beauty dishes one is white and won a silver only difference is the silver throws a light harsher so when you saw this you thought it could be either or based on the shape it isthe silver because we can see the shadows very harsh right a white would be a white beauty dish would reflect the light soft there yeah you kind of see on the nose and then a writer on this his right cheek exactly um and then there's something shining in his eyes ok so so that's interesting that you say that because he's wearing a brimmed hat right so that would actually block the cash light from his eyes from that beauty dish so you're thinking oh there must be another light source giving that catch light and that's why this is kind of a trick of an example so let me give you a little background of the shoot a cz this is for vibe magazine okay photographing june it I did a group shot of the group first minded individual portrait ce so you're absolutely right because when you look this way we have a beauty dish coming from here we can see from the shadow on the nose right it's coming down that way also I was shooting at a photographer's worst nightmare which is a room full of mirrors right so this is actually a mere here and we can see biddies reflection right there was happening is that there's light bouncing around everywhere and that's what's giving this kind of like a slight cut out kind of rim light right it's just reflecting back from the mirror this kind of fill here actually comes because he's wearing a white colored shirt and the light's so so harsh that it's bouncing off they're filling in a little bit but you mentioned the catch light so on top of the brimmed hat his eyes would be completely dark so what I did was I got a secondary light on a very low power and just like and just like snuck it up right so that light for the eyes this flashing extremely low so it's not influencing the contrast too much but what it is doing is just giving a little reflection in the eye giving it some life knowing what I know now and my preferences now if I had to reshoot this I would actually choose to use a cash light which is circular because this is like weird it's like wiser a square a little like strips off box creating that light at the time is just because it was like right there and I need it I was like all right get this and hold this right was really quick if I had to re approach this now and make it circular so it feels more natural and more organic but that was good yes so it's not a bounce from below it is another light source you can use a reflector to bounce light back but the problem is a reflector is kind of honor off right if you're bouncing light it's very hard to feather it away and it's very hard to control the power because you're like either hand holding or the subject's moving what I prefer to do most times is get a strobe dialed in really low and just handhold there put up understand just for the reflection on lee here's another variation of that same set up and you were absolutely right when it's a beauty dish if we look at here okay at one of the set ups is this is just like zoomed out I was like thinking when I was photographic oh it's just good for my blah glint okay nobody noticed okay so it's a it's a beauty dish the only thing that's changed is we switched the angle of the light coming this way and now I'm shooting toward this the shaded side but if we look at the eyes this was one of the rare circumstances where he's raised his head up a little higher so looking into the eyes here we can actually see the to catch lights see in the left eye how we have the beauty dish and then down below we have like this trip soft box as soon as he puts his shot a little lower that disappears and we just have the strips off box so there's a lighting setup so we have our main modifier extremely contrast e wearing the hat we have some mirror splashing light around and me shooting from there and this is my favorite shot from the day fifty cents stabbing me in the neck with a butter knife okay last last guessing game of the day this one is extremely complex do I have a brave volunteer you had the mike and I saw your eyes got I've got I've got the mike it's like well I'm going down there let me give you an introduction is you don't have to be daunted by it because if you can understand one light remember you can understand many so before being like thrown around let's just start with the main light let's look at the subject's face because there is only one main light in this shot so let's tell me where it is and what you think's going on I'll give it no I don't think I'll give a disclaimer first in that I think I might have read the description of this image in your book but I don't remember your cheater is what you're saying but I don't remember it so ok so I might be cheating or might not be I can be ready blogger at the book okay all right that's fine so you just don't remember so I just don't remember it so I take it take it take us that long so I um main light is relatively soft seems to be wrapping around their faces the shadows aren't too harsh um and I'm seeing I think the main light's got to be directly over you about from camera because the people on camera left the light seems to be coming on the left side of their faces people on camera right exactly coming on the other side that's what I was going to say is when you're trying to deconstruct images this group shot they're all on like one focal plane right all the subjects are so it's really easy to determine where exactly the light is based on the shadows so look like down here see uh his name's brad brizio down and he was almost falling straight down right and as we go this way the shadows are moving this way now right see right here and then it's the opposite this way so that means that it has to be around here and we looking like oh something's flaring here perfect that's the position of the main light very good so that's good move on let's see what else is going on all right there's a light coming in camera left um that's giving a highlight the the two on the left there's kind of a highlight on their hair concede that commune and you can see the light coming in exactly so looking through this image there is some degree of backlighting going on right so we can look at their shoulders here here here it looks like we have a source from here and some kind of source from here but this source doesn't quite match was going on here and here right so it has to be different so it looks like and I know because I was there there is another like little light going on here specifically for tae's e on the end on the bit you guard the back light looks like it's coming from the windows it looks like it is but there might be a little tricky going on there could be flashes outside the windows pointing in to make it motivated as if the back light is coming from outside the windows exactly jeter okay go you and I know now that I think about I don't think I actually read that description but okay good job that's that's very very thorough so let's look at the actual lighting diagram okay so if you look at number one the modifier is a pro globe ok this was shot in england I didn't fly with my giant globe we rented one okay so number one is a pro glow you're right in saying that it's soft it's wrapped in several layers of diffusion material and that's because the globe itself is small so what we were doing a softening the light right wrapping it again and again with fusion the other thing that's on this light is a thing called black wrap it's a fancy name for black tinfoil what we're doing with that is controlling exactly where that main line it follows so if we look at the image we see oh and lots of things are black wrapped in the studio a cz well all right if we look at that image we see like a nice kind of like quality on the faces but remember that we're we're lighting with a globe it's a light modifier that sprays like three hundred sixty degrees so what happens is is that light splashes around a lot so the black rabbit is to control it so it doesn't hit the wall behind our subjects making it look flat that's what that is if you look at two a and to be you picked those out well there to back lights again my favorite back light sources the beauty dish these air they're they're covered in a cto color gel to kind of give like that nice warm feeling as if it was coming from the sun outside the window if we look at number three that's a light that I set up just purely just tow have there's nothing really motivating e I said maybe it's a lamp or a light on outside the door and that was done just because I saw the left side of the image was getting a little dark and we had a window on the right side so it's just something to balance it out I purposely let it flare in the lens and I said that's fine it looks good if you're going to number four if you look at the black wrap on the main light number one it's kind of like covering the left side of the group so that number four that balance was just to reflect a little bit light back on where it was dark number five and six this is actually not locate this is not a real location and all it's actually a soundstage okay like inside of a studio so there's five and six on the window there's five and six again I wanted to make it look like there was one son outside but the sun is you know huge and we're using little strobe so we had to separate it with two s so that we could have one coming in from each window that's five and six now one little extra little dude that is number seven on the floor and this has got really complex by the way it took like five hours to light this thing one shot on the floor we have ah little bit of bounce coming from below so how could we know that that's their let's look at the group shot again and we can see hidden from the frame there's something white underneath here how do we know that is look at this shadow versus these ones right the shadows are extremely harsh and dark whereas here they're like phil then there's more of like a flesh tone to it so we know there's something bouncing under the table here that's not going on there and I did that purely just because I wanted the white a little soft there I would have put mohr material in the other areas but it would have been in the actual shots I just hid it where I could but good job that one's a little thorough but it's for the end ok the other thing that I want to say is typically when I'm photographing these kind of things I'm doing group shots and individual portrait's inside the inside the same set so one thing that I love doing is as long as the set is lit and everything is ready to go we have a lot of light coming from the windows from above I like to take that opportunity to say great the set's good let's bounce around and let's move as little gear as possible to get a lot more variations so these are two shot that I took of individual cast members in different areas of the same set the only thing that I tweaked while I was working I was just the main light so we had that same pro globe by then it was just handheld because we're moving so fast we didn't even have a honest and we just had a voice activated lights stand like a person moving right and we're just walking around getting different shots inside the set so none of the back lights changed none of the background lights changed it was just a matter of walking on set finding things and then sort of happy accidents start happening because let's look at the image on the right we have that flair thats just the strobe flash outside but it looks like the sun another thing about that example on the right is the curtain moved and put that like nice pattern on the wall I wish that we had that during the group shot but we didn't so just this kind of happy accidents happen when I light a such an elaborate set like this I like to think more like a cinematographer where we're lighting an entire set that's all locked in and we'll just tweak for the subject cool so that's the end of our little guessing game that was kind of fun that was that was he he walked into a potential disaster there but he was but he knew what he was trained before

Class Description

Joey L. has balanced hard work, technical execution, and boundless creativity to become a commercial portrait photography wunderkind. In this class, you'll learn how Joey gets inspiration, organizes his shoots, and processes the images to create the stunning shots for which he has become so well known.

In this class, you'll learn:

  • How to embrace the creative concepts that so often stay trapped in our heads
  • How to merge cinematic lighting techniques with onset special effects
  • Joey's post-production tips in Photoshop



Are you keen to learn about creating painterly portraits - as much in-camera as possible? Then you likely get how important lighting is. What you may not realise is how little a role photoshop plays in creating such effects: what such JoeyL like portraits seems to mean is: - thinking about portraits - what they are - how light creates them - how therefore to see and manage light "if you can use one light you can use many" - how to tune the image to create the output in your vision. Within this there are thoughts about photography as a business, workflows and data management. It's all remarkably accessible, too. Joey's teaching approach is calm and effective: he has mastered the art of the recap to make sure everyone is on the same page " first we did this; then we did.. then we did..." THe pragmatics of the course - the lighting/shooting sessions - are sensible progressions from one light (including using a flashlight and a foil lined cardboard box) to a multi-light set up. Intrigingly the lenses are limited no. of primes in the dlsr sections; the medium format is well motivated too, and clearly not a limiting factor for creating the desired image look. This course should get bonus marks for going above and beyond expectations on two counts: the portfolio section for people looking for work is v.well done in that a) it exists at all and b) Joey is not just highlighting his own work, but showing the work of others to allow him to explore options in presentation. Fantastic. The discussions of workflow- including data back up strategies - and image processing including print and web - are also sufficiently detailed and rational to be able to test out quickly. Delighted to see this work being done in PS v6 for those who haven't leapt to CC versions yet. It's also rewarding and inspiring to hear Joey say "i don't have a studio" Likewise, though Joey does work with a crew, it's clear they're working as a team and for very specfici purposes - all of which get costed into a budget. There's a lot of questions about the experience of shooting for a client - about the air of calm one has to maintain even if freaking out - to get through these points. It's all very real. WHile joey is clearly very confident about what he does, he's not arrogant, and the confidence is earned and reassuring. IT's clear he's an alpha kinda guy, a little competetive, and working for him (preferring folks who don't sleep - oh dear) may be different than attending a class - but this IS a class and his manner and way of teaching/organising/presenting work extremely well. Because the course is so complete, going not just from a to z but -z to +z it seems, these next bits are small beer: There's a rather surprising section with CL founder Chass Jarvis - but many CL courses have guest teachers bring in guests to add perspective. Here the section mainly demonstrates how gracious Joey is as an interviewer. And because all the other bases are covered it's no loss to have this business discussion of de-bunkings about how to get into this game. In other sections we see Joey as a patient guy too - answering quesitons it seems several times that had been answered previously in the course - while not everyone has tuned in for the whole thing, it's undrestandable why live questions weren't better filtered to highlight new questions - but Joey calmly will indicate as discussed before...and then give the answer. Never get the sense he's irritated by the repetition. While we hear his father as a strong critique his folks must be well pleased with how Joey's doing. This course has no extra materials - and that's ok: the links to the portfolios and software used are all in the discussions. Joey's blog also goes through a lot of discussions about gear lists. So head to his blog for supplementary detail. Overall it's hard to find a more complete course in CL on a complete portrait photography workflow. Scott Robert Lim's somewhat more frenetic but incredibly detailed 10k wedding photography and Joel Grimes Strobe workshops are also v.good in this end to end regard. But this one goes a bit beyond these perhaps in terms of vibe/cohesion (that may be unfair - it's just a feel thing between the three). Some folks label courses as "something for everyone" - i don't know if that's the case or if this case largely appeals to keen beginners who are exploring lighting and thinking about business thoughts, or if more experienced/pro photographers will be gripped by each moment, but my suspicion is that even for experienced portrait'ists it will be engaging at the very least to see how a fellow pro manages a shoot. Excellent excellent offer. With the guarentee, this is a no risk, slam dunk if commercial portrait photography (or painterly /cinematic and maybe earthy portraits) are for you. Thanks CL for bringing this together.

Vinh Huynh

I think this is a great class. You can definitely tell Joey L is a master of his craft because of his simple explanations. He's concise in the way he teaches, demonstrates, etc. The most important thing is his workflow or process he uses while setting up the shot, how he builds, etc - it's essentially a "checklist" of how he likes to do things. Something newer photographers need to know. He did forget a couple of the models' name here n' there, but I'm sure he met them shortly before filming for the day started, lol. This is something you should not do, but he apologizes and openly admits. There are times a couple questions are asked and he has no shame in admitting that he's just "openly thinking of what would happen," but does not know for sure because he shoots in a specific style. For someone his age (younger) who has penetrated this tough industry, you can definitely tell why he's successful - very mature with a great knowledge base. You can definitely tell he sees lighting differently from how an advanced amateur or even semi-professional photographer does... even in the introduction he talks about how important lighting and the quality of that light is. For those who are more advance, there might not be as many nuggets and pearls. There isn't any information on how he got into the industry, how he grew his business etc - with exception to how he feels you should display your portfolio in both web and print format. Overall, I think someone who's looking to get into commercial photography would benefit from this workshop. However, someone who's already getting paid and just looking to advance his or her own career probably already has the skillset that Joey L teaches and is best spending time just studying light. A little about me... I'm primarily a natural light portrait photographer specializing with families, kids, pets, etc. I'd consider myself an advanced amateur and I found this workshop beneficial. I hope that helps!!