One Light Wonder


One Light Wonder


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

So this is true, I'm an entertainment and music photographer, rock photographer. Sort of an educator, I've been doing this for a while. I'm gonna be on the next three days, share a little bit of my journey, it's been a crazy journey, it's taken me some pretty outrageous places. I've gotten to work with some people like these cats, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who I grew up listening to. So I don't know what it's like for you guys, but when I picked up that thing and I got it in my hand, it was like a compass. And suddenly, this thing, this little black box, that I put next to my eye, became a direction in life, it gave me a great sense of purpose. And I had no idea at the time it would bring me to places like this, but it did, and it was, it's been a great ride and I wish it for all of you. I've had many different clients over the years. I think one thing that's really awesome about photography is its ability to tell a story. Whatever that is to you, that's one of the things that drew me...

into it. My father, great storyteller, Irishman, Irish people like to tell stories. I think good pictures tell stories, and as a photographer, I think the difference between being just a picture taker and a picture maker is really having a little bit of direction and story and a little bit more involved, and we'll talk about that a lot. I do think lighting's a great way for you to elevate your game. And we're definitely talking about strobe lighting, we're talking about electronic flash. That's what we're teaching here. Sure, so these are just some of my pictures. And I like a certain amount of, you know sometimes it's a little bit of fantasy, sometimes a little bit of realness. In a portrait, I think, what I love about portrait, we're all portrait photographers here, I hope we are, right, okay, cool. So as a portrait photographer I think it's like a dance you do with your subject, and as a photographer, as a person, I love people, so the camera became a great way to meet people, to experience people, to what I say, celebrate people. That's what I think a portrait does. It's like a celebration of spirit. Or it's a weird fantasy, like here for example, Kid Rock just split up with Pam Anderson, and I got to tell the story that there was nothing gonna stop him from being the guy he is. Whatever that is (laughs). And we get to tell a little bit of history in our pictures. You don't know what that history is, you might meet some people, like Weezy was not the artist that he is now when I did this picture. You can even tell the length of his hair it was a long time ago, and strange thing of this was Katrina was ripping through New Orleans at the time this was going on. So his entire family was being devastated by the hurricane, and he still showed up and did his business like a professional. Do think a great part of light is how you can use it to kind of give whatever you wanna say about a person. It's a great point of view, it's a great technique to be ... to be a deeper author of your picture. And using light, I think making choices in light with intention. Lighting Mr. Mayweather here from above, making him look a little diabolical. Emphasizing the body, the sweat, the mood of the picture. Or some just very open light. And a lot of these pictures shot with one light. I don't believe you need to be very complicated with light. To be very confident and capable with the light. I think you can just be a couple lights, or one light. And I think the more you can do with one light, the more you do with light, period. That's just what it is. So, yes, I have some ambient light here, but it's just one light bangin' on DJ Khaled, trying to make him look like the kingpin of the world. So yeah, a lot of one-light pictures I'm showing you, and it's great to be, I grew up, a little bit more about myself, I grew up in the '90s. It was an incredible time for music, even here in Seattle, what was happening, that really, it's when I was in art school. Grunge was happening, visually it was a very radical time, it was a very edgy time. Things looked very effed up, shall we say. Just had a great aesthetic. There was a, and music was at its arcing time. I think in 1996 more records had been sold that year than in the five or 10 years before that. In one year, so it was a great time in music, a great amount of opportunity. So that really informed me, and I think you should photograph what you love. I love, love music. This is Chris Cornell from Soundgarden. So many people I've photographed have left this world now, and to think that maybe we have an experience, or just the sense of this person, I don't know if a picture is, I don't know what a picture is sometimes, it's a complicated thing. But it's an honor just to have witnessed some of these people and have been a part of their legacy. And I didn't see that coming, when I sat in a student's chair like you, I didn't see some of this stuff coming. But I think if you really want to do this thing with the camera, you really want it seriously, there's room for everybody. Desire is the most key ingredient. Like you really gotta want it. Again, history, this is Lebron James, when he was 17 years old. Like, not a lot of people have this picture. I didn't know he was gonna be the next big thing. He was a high-school champ, so cool to eclipse somebody at that point in their life and that humility. I've worked with him a couple times since but, you know, it's a very soft light on Lebron. It's a very fitting light source for the time and place he is in this period of his life. He's not all lit hard and sort of nasty like these guys, a little bit harder, but all young basketball players. We'll talk about this a little bit today, how to photograph a group. We're gonna get right into that. I know many of you are photographing musicians and stuff like that, right? Yeah, just been so random too. Like one day, I went from shooting Jack White to Dolly Parton, it's like, that's a very different polarity in the music game. Let's give a little overview of the class, what we're talking about here. In general, you can't talk about flash and you can't talk about light without talking about light theory, that's where it starts. We've gotta cover that. We're gonna cover it in a really simple way that everybody can understand, 'cause light theory might involve this crazy algebra and mathematical equations, but I'll dumb it down for you. We demonstrate a lot of different light modifiers. You'll see 'em, we'll break 'em down, we'll demystify 'em, we'll show you exactly why you might choose them because, I don't know about you, but when I was starting out in photography and I looked at some of those things, I was like, what the F- is going on with that stuff. Like I don't get it, right? So we'll break that down for you, we'll demystify that. We'll create lighting diagrams, anyone create lighting diagrams, anybody do that? You guys do that, all right. So we'll break that down for you, I think that's real important, it's a great practice. As an educator and a teacher, it's a real big part that we create like a cookbook. So we can repeat, if you wanna bake that cake again. You know just how much sugar to put in it, you don't put too much salt in it. You know just how to make it. So it's about repeatable results. We're gonna show you a range of one-light setups. Look at a lot of different modifiers, just rip through that, it's gonna be fun. And then we're gonna build from one light to two to three lights and also just the reason for it. I think this is a great class for anybody who's been experimenting with electronic flash, or flash photography, and maybe you're lighting stuff but it's not feeling the way you want it to. It's not looking the way you want it to. Maybe you want it to have more of an edge. I hope that I can teach you how to be a little bit more of an edgy photographer. I think that's missing in this photo game. There's a lotta guys out there like, "Ahr-roo-roo-roo-roo-roo." So I really appreciate, Creative Live giving me this opportunity to teach the Cleezy McBreezy light. Clay Patrick Mcbride, I got a street name. Cleezy McBreezy or the CP McB light. Or how to do it a little bit dirty. Doesn't have to be technical and pristine and everything need to be so right. I like to kick the tripod a little bit and make it look a little bit more ... messed up. Yeah, I'll try not to be a potty mouth today. I don't know who's watching. So great class for somebody who's starting out, wants to know a little bit more, wants to gain some confidence, and I think it's a, maybe we're making pictures or we're taking pictures, but we wanna be picture makers. We wanna be more the author of our photograph. I think there's a difference there. I think that's when it really started to change for me. Like, when, and there is an art to picture taking, like a photo-journalist goes out like a fly on the wall and takes pictures and doesn't direct and doesn't change things. They have a different set of ethics. Like for a photo-journalist to direct somebody, it's unethical, because they have to photograph life as it happens. It's a very long conversation. But to become more of a director and author of your picture and to make those decisions with light is a great one. So it's definitely gonna help you with that. It's gonna definitely help you control light better. Like, just getting it to do more you want it to do. And I think you'll have, after this class you'll have a solid foundation on a good lighting playbook to go out and repeat some of this stuff, like I really hope that after watching this, we'll do some experimenting today, I'll probably struggle, I'll probably fall on my face a little bit today. 'Cause I think that just comes with the territory. It's like skateboarding, you gotta fall down. You gotta fall down to skateboard. So what are our objectives. Define and illustrate light theory. We're gonna demonstrate the inverse square law, I think that's where it starts. It's the base of it all. It's the root, the theory. And we're gonna understand how light behaves. So talking about light theory, we're gonna get into this and just talk in general, like why do we wanna use one light? There's definitely only one sun. The sun does a perfectly good job of lighting everything in the world. I always say that god is my favorite artist. 'Cause whatever's happening out there with the world and sun, whatever that is it's pretty perfect, how that light operates. And I will say this, I talk a lot about practice, and there's always light to look at, we should always be studying light. That this thing with light that we're talking about is a relationship. It's gonna be with you a long time if you stay on this journey as a photographer. It's a relationship, and like any relationship, you gotta participate in it for it to be good. You're not participating in the relationship, it's probably like a plant, you don't water it, it dies. That simple, right? This relationship with the light is one I like to philosophically talk about because it's probably gonna be in your life a long time, longer than some friends or maybe your boyfriend, you know. It's something that's around. One light's definitely economical. Offers just a great deal of possibilities. A lotta, lotta possibilities with one light. And you understand one light, you have a foundation, then you start to add more. And I'm a big believer in he who does the most with the least wins. That is what I teach. 'Cause these kids, they go to art school, they get spoiled in art school, they have all this stuff, and then they leave and they have nothing. 'Cause they don't have access to that equipment anymore. So then they go and get one light and they're kind of like, "Oh, now I gotta be able to do everything with this one light." I don't know about for you, but for a long time I only had one light. I had one light, one soft box and a Grit spot. And that was like, all right, what can I do with this thing. So don't go throwing around your money. (laughter) Like Curtis here. It's just so weird, some of the pictures I take. (laughter) I think about them, this seemed like a really great idea, I don't know. And then there's ones like this where, just kinda resonate more with me. When there's just this simple portrait, one light, a little far away from the subject. I don't know, light could be understated, overstated, it doesn't need to be complicated.

Class Description

We only have one sun, so why should we need more than one light? In this course, celebrity portrait photographer Clay Patrick McBride will dive into lighting with intention. Through a variety of live shoots, he’ll demonstrate how to incorporate lighting diagrams into your workflow so you can create setups that you can use again and again.

He’ll cover:

  • How to control your light
  • Creating hard or soft light
  • The importance of documenting your setups
  • Sculpting with Light
  • Removing and creating shadows with intention

By the end of this class, you will be able to create incredible images with confidence and the use of only one light.