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Group / Accessories

Lesson 5 from: Portrait Photography Bootcamp

Lindsay Adler

Group / Accessories

Lesson 5 from: Portrait Photography Bootcamp

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

5. Group / Accessories

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

In this lesson, Lindsay Adler covers various accessories that photographers can use to enhance their portrait photography. She discusses camera cases to protect cameras from the elements, camera loupes for better visibility in bright conditions, vertical battery grips for stability and extended battery life, different types of memory cards and their ratings, the importance of having backup hard drives for storage, different types of camera straps and belts for comfort and ease of use, various types of camera bags for different shooting needs, the importance of investing in quality light stands, reflector holders, boom arms, and sandbags for studio lighting setups, the versatility of gaffers tape for various purposes, the use of cinefoil to control and manipulate light in the studio, the benefits of using V flats as reflectors or light blockers, the use of clamps for various purposes, the versatility of variable neutral density filters for shooting in bright conditions, the importance of using gels for creative lighting effects, and the use of on-camera flash accessories to soften and diffuse flash lighting.


  1. What are some accessories that photographers can use to protect their cameras from the elements?

    Camera cases and Delkin SnugIt Pro rubber casing.

  2. What is a camera loupe used for in portrait photography?

    It allows photographers to see the back of their camera screen in bright conditions for better visibility and analysis of focus and histogram.

  3. What is the purpose of a vertical battery grip?

    It provides a more stable and ergonomic grip for shooting vertically, and allows for extended battery life by holding more than one battery.

  4. How can photographers ensure fast read/write speed and sufficient storage capacity for their memory cards?

    Look for memory cards with a higher rating and larger capacity, such as those with a 10 rating and larger storage sizes.

  5. What are the benefits of having backup hard drives for photographers?

    Backup hard drives help to prevent loss of photos in case of computer crashes, and they provide additional storage space for photographers.

  6. What are some types of camera straps and belts that photographers can use for comfort and convenience?

    Spider Holster, Spider Pro Hand Strap, Peak Design straps, and Black Rapid camera straps.

  7. What are some types of camera bags that photographers can use for different shooting needs?

    Think Tank bags for travel, sling bags for ease of use, backpacks for carrying gear, and Kelly Moore purse/camera bags for a stylish and functional option.

  8. What are some essential tools and accessories for studio photography setups?

    Sturdy light stands, reflector holders, boom arms for positioning lights, gaffers tape for various purposes, cinefoil for controlling light, V flats for reflecting or blocking light, and clamps for securing equipment.

  9. What are variable neutral density filters used for in photography?

    They allow photographers to control and manipulate the amount of light entering the camera, enabling them to shoot at wider apertures or slower shutter speeds in bright conditions.

  10. What are some on-camera flash accessories that can be used to soften and diffuse flash lighting?

    Dome diffusers, Gary Fong Lightsphere, Light Spin 360, and Rogue FlashBender. The topic of the lesson is about how accessories can improve the quality of life and efficiency for photographers, although they do not necessarily make someone a better photographer.

  11. What are some examples of accessories mentioned in the lesson?

    Bags, flash accessories, and camera straps.

  12. Do accessories make someone a better photographer?

    No, accessories do not make someone a better photographer.

  13. How can accessories improve a photographer's life?

    Accessories can make a photographer more efficient at their job and allow them to focus on the things they want to, improving their overall photography experience.

  14. Can you give an example of an accessory that can make a photographer's life easier?

    A camera bag for travel that can carry all the necessary gear and be carried on, ensuring convenience and peace of mind for the photographer.

  15. What are some other examples of accessories mentioned in the lesson?

    A softer light source for on-camera flash and a camera holster for those with back problems were mentioned as examples of accessories that can improve a photographer's life.

Lesson Info

Group / Accessories

Photographers really like their stuff. And if you've been in business or shooting for any amount of time, you realize that you accumulate this stuff. But, more professionally, we call it tools and accessories to help us do our jobs more easily, more effectively, more efficiently. So that's what I want to cover. I want to cover all of the accessories, all of the things that you use with your camera, or with your flash, or to use as a camera bag. I'm just going to kind of cover these things and some of the things I'm going to cover, say Pocket Wizards for example, are going to be things that you might hear along the way. I might mention, or another photographer might mention, you should probably know what they do and what they're for. Other tools are going to be to let you know the variety of options available, like bags as you go out looking for the appropriate bag for the way that you shoot. So, I'm going to cover a full range of photographer stuff. Alright, so let me just get started ...

with that and talk about some useful accessories, but let's start with miscellaneous camera accessories. Some things I have here, some things I don't. Now, if you decide to go the consumer or pro-sumer route, for a camera, if you're not getting like a D1X or really one of the high-end weather-proofed cameras, sometimes it's a little nerve-wracking when you go out and shoot a portrait and it's a little bit rainy, or it's a little bit drizzly. Or you're on a beach and you're afraid of the sand. When you don't have one of these high-end, expensive cameras, they aren't weather-proofed as well and that can a bit unnerving. So there are several accessories that are cases to protect your camera. And they won't protect them to completely weather-proof, but they will help a bit. And one them that I've used in the past is this nice rubber casing called the Delkin SnugIt Pro. It lets me have a firmer grip on the camera itself, but it also weather-proofs it a bit. So that's one accessory you might wanna check out, especially if that's been a concern for you or you just got your brand new camera and you don't wanna get any scratches or scuffs on it. The next accessory would be a camera loupe. Now for portraits, a lot of times you are shooting outside. It's going to be a bright and sunny day and you want to be able to see what you're shooting on the back of your camera. You want to take a look and analyze your focus, or maybe you want to take a look at the histogram. But in the middle of the day, it is very difficult to see this. And so this is what a loupe is for. Many manufacturers make these loupes and some of them you can fit directly into your hot shoe and it'll attach to your screen in the back or you can quickly put them around your neck or around your hip and check so that you can see the back of the screen. So if you're shooting outdoors a lot and you want to be able to check the quality of your image, was it in focus, how's the histogram look, you're going to want to check out a loupe. The next accessory in the lineup is a vertical battery grip. I talked previously in a segment about your stance when holding a camera and one of the things you want to avoid is the chicken elbow up in the air. This is not really a very stable stance. But if you feel more natural turning your camera to the left, then it kind of gets stuck. And this is actually exactly what I do. So what a vertical battery grip does is the grip goes on the bottom of your camera here and it adds a trigger, so I can shoot vertically while still maintaining my strong, stable stance. But in addition to that, it allows me to hold more than one battery in the grip. So I don't have to worry about my battery life dying very, very quickly in a wedding. I can have two batteries there so when I throw those batteries in my camera, I know I have twice the amount of time before I'm going to need to change that. The downside, of course, is that it does weigh a bit. An upside, and it depends on how important this is to you, but your camera definitely looks serious and definitely looks pro and, although looks don't mean everything, sometimes at a wedding or an event, when your camera looks a little bit more professional, sometimes people give you more respect. That's not your problem, that's theirs, but I have found that people take it a little bit more seriously. Primarily I use a battery grip just so that I'm avoiding this. All I have to do is it has another trigger on the side, so I can use my shutter without having to contort my body, which again, is also good for my back and for ergonomics. Moving on from battery grip, memory cards. Different cameras take different types of cards. SD cards are going to be the small ones on the left, CF cards are larger. I just want to tell you a couple things to think about. I was helping a friend buy a camera not too long ago. Because, as a photographer, I'm sure everyone asks what kind of camera do you get and they ask you for advice. We were looking at this one advanced point and shoot camera, it had a really nice lens to it and I asked them, does it come with an SD or CF card? And it came with some other random card I've never heard of. So the first thing I did is I said okay, I talked to the person, I said, "Is this new technology? Or old technology?" And they said it's old technology, whatever this random card was. I don't want to have to be relying on something that's being phased out. So as you're buying a camera, take a look and see and make sure they're using newer technology, at least CF or SD cards. Neither is better than the other, SD cards are great because they're small, they're compact, they're lightweight, but they could snap easily if you were putting a lot of pressure on them. So the CF cards are going to be a little bit more durable. Some of the things that you want to look for is these cards are actually rated. So they'll have... See on the left hand side how they have the 10 in a circle? Ten is a good rating for its quality and its read/write speed. So ideally, the higher the number of the megabytes that it writes per second, that's going to mean that, if you're shooting with a Canon 5DS with 50 megapixels, it'll quickly write those files. Or if you're doing video, it's going to quickly write those files to a card. If you have a really cheap, really inexpensive card, that doesn't even have a rating, a lot of times that means it's lower end and, as you're taking pictures in raw, like I recommend you set your camera to, you're gonna reach a buffer. Basically what it means is that you've taken so many pictures that your camera is still slowly writing to this card and so you have to wait before you can take any more photos and that's the last thing you want when you're in the flow of things, when you're in the groove of things. So make sure that when you get a card, that it has a relatively fast read/write speed and that it has a higher number for its rating. And nowadays, thank goodness, a lot of these card prices have really, really come down and they're a lot more affordable. I remember my first 256 megabyte card and how expensive it was. So times have definitely changed with that. Next accessory in the lineup would be hard drives. If I could tell you one thing to save yourself headache, even beyond all these accessories that are fun and extend the usage of your camera, get a hard drive. In fact, get two hard drives right off the bat, because if you are saving your photos onto your desktop, as you're saving all these photos, you're slowing down your computer's capabilities and when it crashes, you lose everything. So I don't recommend that you go out there and buy one hard drive, I recommend that you go out there and buy two. One is your main and one is your back-up. And, so that you don't feel tempted to use one and then the other without backing up, write on it main, you know, label it, so that one's main and one's back-up and always use them to mirror one another. Without going into this, there are several programs that will actually automatically mirror to make sure the hard drives are the same and information on one is automatically written to the other, so you could take that route as well. Personally, the hard drives that I use are Gtech and the prices, again, of these have come down so much. You can get a one terabyte, portable Gtech drive with US3 capabilities, which means it's going to be pretty fast read/write times, for less than $100 for a terabyte. So, for less than $200, you can buy two of these and you've got more than a terabyte of storage to make sure that the photos you're pouring your heart and soul into don't get lost when your computer crashes. So this is an accessory, but it's really a must-have, to be honest. It's something that you want to start off and get right away. Alright, next down the line, let's talk about camera straps and belts. When I first started shooting, we didn't really have options of camera straps and belts. I feel like this has only been in the last few years when there started to be all of these options. And I absolutely hated just having the camera strap around my neck because it was so much weight that I always felt like I was leaning forward and it was putting so much pressure there that my back and my neck would hurt at the end of the day. So, as these belts and camera straps started to become available, it made my quality of life better. There are so many different options out there, so I wanted to just touch on a few that seemed to be very, very popular or that I have personally had experience with. So there's three different types of things that you can really go for, you can do things that are on the hip, like on your belt, you can go with hand straps, and then also things that are over the shoulder or on the chest. So I'll show you a couple of those options. So let's talk about the first one that I have here. The one that I have here, this is a Spider Holster. And the Spider Holster allows me to take the weight off of my neck, off of my shoulders and it's all on my hips. I can quickly and easily put this back onto my hip and as I walk and move around, it doesn't move. I use this when I shoot in the studio, because I used to do this, I would shoot, and I hate camera straps, so then I would set my camera on the floor and then get really distracted and kick it. That's a completely true story. So now, I can just quickly put my camera on my hip and, if I want, it actually has a lock on the side. So if you're worried about someone stealing your camera, if you lock it, they can't steal it. And then you can quickly unlock it to pull it back out. So this is the Spider Holster. And then also, what you might have seen, on my camera is I have a hand strap here. If you are a little nervous about not having any way to hold on your camera, you're like okay, yup, I like to have something on my hip, but I don't want to just hold my camera without a strap, I'm worried it's going to fall. This is the Spider Pro Hand Strap and it is very cushioned, it's very soft, you can adjust it to the size of your hand. So this is just that security of actually having an extra way to hold onto it instead of just using your grip. So, you can let go and it'll hold on. I have it a little loose now, but it works great. So that is one option of things that you can use for a belt and a hand strap as well. That's the Spider Holster and the Spider Holster Pro Hand Strap. Okay, so let's go to some other options. Recently I have seen huge buzz and huge fanfare around this particular brand, and it's called Peak Design. The reason that people seem to really like this, first of all, they have a ton of different options, but this is one of the Peak Design core elements here. What it lets you do is you can add this mount to any strap that you have. So I could put it on the belt that I'm wearing right now. If I'm wearing a backpack for hiking, I could put it on the backpack strap. I could put it on my laptop bag. I could put it on a purse. Then I have a quick release to put my camera wherever I want it to be. So instead of you having to fit within their design, like it has to be on your hip, or it has to be on a camera bag, it actually lets you decide this. So all I need to do, here this is the right side up. All I need to do is hit this little red button and it's a quick release. So I can have my camera be on anything I want. The other day my friend came to the studio, she's shooting a little bit of behind the scenes and she had gone to work, and so she had her laptop bag, didn't have a camera bag with her, and she just had this attached to the strap of her laptop bag and she had an easy way to attach this. So I've seen this on anything and everything and people love it. It's a nice, quick release design. But they have other things, they have over the shoulder, as well, which can quickly kind of pop off, you can adjust the side so that it doesn't wiggle around. They actually keep coming out with a lot of new things, so I would check that out and give it a try. If you want to be able to adapt what you already have into a system of a bag that you like or whatever else you're using currently. And then something else that I see a lot of people use is, instead of putting the weight of the camera strap around your neck, they'll actually put it over the shoulders, something like this. So now you can attach your camera to the bottom of this strap and have it at your hip and tighten it so it doesn't bounce around a lot. So this particular one is the Black Rapid camera strap. There are many different designs, but they have it so there's some padding for the shoulder and you can quickly pull it around to take a photograph. Alright, let's look at some more options that we have here for camera bags. Alright so, there are many different types of camera bags and it seems that, over the years, I have collected one of each of something because I always have a different need. And they're always coming out with new bags to meet new design requirements and new technology. And this one needs to hold an iPad and this one the tether, there's tons of stuff. So I'm just going to run through the different types of bags that exist based on the type of shooting you do and the types of needs. So the very first one would be something that's travel friendly. For example, this one right here is travel friendly if you're doing airplane travel. This is called the Think Tank bag. Think Tank is the brand and the bag, in particular, is the Airport International. They have a whole series of these. Let me make sure... So I'm going to flip this open and so this is sized specifically to fit as a carry-on piece of luggage. So you would be able to take all of this gear. I could easily fit two cameras, 7200, all of my lenses, all of these different flashes and accessories as a carry-on bag. Now depending on which specific bag you can get, this one's a roller bag, there's on that Think Tank makes that's a roller bag and a backpack in one. So this is intended for people that do a lot of travel and want to be able to have a convenient, but relatively compact way to take their gear as a carry-on. I really, definitely like this one. I actually have an even bigger one that I can use as checked luggage, as well. Just be careful with what you check for camera gear. The next thing would be a sling bag. A sling bag is made for ease of use. You can put the sling bag over your shoulder and you can also give it a little more stability as you're walking and you can tighten things. But when you're ready to... Say you're hiking, you're walking around and you want to be able to get to your camera, the problem that people have with backpacks is, if you have a backpack on, and you want to be able to get to your camera, you have to take the backpack off, set it down, open it up, and as a frequent traveler, I know that also opens you up to a lot of theft or pick-pocketing, because you have to open up your bag. Also, let's say there's a perfect shot right there, it's such a process to get to your gear, so that is what the sling bags are made for because now I can kind of pull the bag around to the front and I can actually access my camera from the top right here. Cameras and lenses. So it makes it very easy that all I have to do is grab my camera, I can zip it back up, and sling it back over my shoulder for quick access. And again, all the weight of my camera's not around my neck and I can carry more things with me. So sling bags are very, very common for people that want a way to hold a camera and a couple lenses without holding it all around their neck, but also without having to have something on their hip. Okay. Next one down the line. Let me just take this off for a second. Next one down the line would just be a usual backpack. There's lots of different backpack solutions. I personally have this one, this one's by Case Logic. I use it to travel because I don't want to carry a huge bag with me, I try to carry as minimal weight as possible and so this can hold my laptop in the back, there's actually an entire zipper for the laptop in the back here, and then I can fit the lenses and cameras I need here. I don't need, like I try not to take a ton of gear with me, just because it's exhausting, so this is what I found works best for me. But this would be the backpack solution, something of this sort. And they also have ones intended for a lot of travel and carrying a lot of gear, much bigger ones. I have one that will strap across the front three times for extra support with tons of padding if you were going on a hike to Machu Picchu, like I am next month. So that would probably be a good backpack for that purpose. The next one is going to be the purse or designer route. Let's say that you... Obviously, in most cases is going to apply to a woman for the handbag purpose, if you want to look chic and not have to carry around a backpack and look cumbersome, but you want it to function as both a purse and a camera bag and to look beautiful, there are many different companies that create those, one of which is Kelly Moore and I have several of the purse/camera bags that she's created. I actually have one of her laptop bags here with me. This is the one, this has gone around the world with me for years and I've beaten it into the ground and it's awesome. This one is the Thirst Relief bag and they actually came out with a new version of this so it just looks slightly different. Right now this is what I used to come here so it has all my stuff in it, but it holds a laptop in the back and then I can put my camera and lenses in the pouches here, but I chose to put like 10 hard drives. And I actually, true story, I came here with a six terabyte drive in the front of my bag instead of my camera and lenses for this particular trip. But it has these pouches are specifically made for holding, like these ones are for holding accessories. The sides over here actually holds, whoops candy, but also CF cards and SD cards that you can have quick to access. So I use this everywhere I go. I like it because it looks like a camera bag, it looks cool, I mean, it doesn't look like a camera bag. It looks cool, it looks chic, but it has multi-function and I can use it for work or I can use it for photo stuff. That would kind of take me back to the laptop and multipurpose. There's everything in between. There are things that you can use that are little over the shoulder bags. This one could actually convert to a fanny pack. There's everything that you can imagine for a bag. So let me show you a couple of those summarized and, at the time of this filming, there was actually Peak Design, the company that I just talked about that did this design here for the quick release, they actually just launched a new bag that they call the Everyday Messenger. In like two days, it raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter. So that's kind of the hot new bag that people are talking about. And that's a look at it right now. It's highly variable to fit whatever type of gear you use, but it's also good for work, for business, you can carry laptops, you can access it from the inside, you can access it from the top. It looks like a pretty cool bag. I haven't seen it yet, but it has a lot of hype right now. These are the Think Tank bags that I was talking about. You can see how much gear that you can carry with those and, if you do a lot of travel, definitely check out this Airport International series. And then Think Tank makes a sling bag, as well. This one is... Let's see. This particular brand, this is M-Rock for this brand that I had, but Think Tank makes one. Here are the Kelly Moore purse camera bags that I was mentioning. The one on the right is the one I showed you here, but I also have several of the purse ones in red to fit my style. So I can carry my camera around and it also helps to not look like you're carrying a camera on you, just a purse. Sometimes it makes you a little less of a target. Sometimes when you have big camera logos over everything, and you do a lot of travel, it screams that you're a tourist or that you have expensive gear, so sometimes it's better to play it just as a purse. Let's jump on to studio accessories; things to use in a studio to make your life easier. I've got a lot of stuff to show for that. The first thing, let's talk about stands and stuff. So light stands, light stands whether it's for your studio lighting or for speed lights, make sure that you don't go really cheap on your stands because if you invest in a light and you get a really cheap or flimsy stand, and it knocks over, you just lost the cost of that light instead of investing in a stand in the first place. So if I could go back in time and spend more money on something, which doesn't happen very often (laughs), one thing I wish I would have spent more money on would have been stands early on because I had a lot of stands break and fall. And so there's a lot of different types, there's one type over here that I use in my studio most often, which is called a C stand. C stands are super sturdy and they're very strongly built and they can carry a lot of weight on this thing that's called a boom arm. So if I have a studio head and a four by six soft box, I know that they're not going to kind of break or fall over underneath the pressure of that. But a couple things related to that, if you are using a C stand, first of all, to use it correctly, or how we use it my studio, is wherever the weight is going to be, let's say the light, the head is over here, I usually put the big leg underneath the weight. That's what kind of gives it the balance so it doesn't fall over. So the big leg of the C stand goes underneath the weight. The other thing that you want to do, the next accessory that I talk about, slightly jumping ahead, is you definitely want to buy some sand bags. They're really inexpensive but it makes sure, when you put all this weight on there, it doesn't just topple over. You can add a sandbag to your stand and I usually put it either around the center or on that big leg, again, so I have a nice, stable base for my lighting. So this is a C stand set-up and this is if you want to go pro and reliable and stable and safe. I think safety's another thing, I remember I had these really inexpensive stands and I had my little studio and I had my client greeting area out front, and there was this little kid and he was playing around, I was talking to the mom, she was picking up her prints, and all of a sudden, he jetted towards the back studio area and all I heard was crashing. Like everything fell down, now thankfully nothing happened, but I know that this little four-year old wouldn't have been able to knock over my C stand. Everything else that I had was inexpensive and it all fell over. So that's why I'd go back and buy those. A couple other things, other stands, you can also go the compact route. If you're using a lot of speed lights and you're going out on location, you know you're going to try hike a mountain, and at the top of the mountain you'd like to have the stand for your speed light, they actually make really compact ones. LumoPro is one that makes them that just gets tiny. Now, whenever you're using a light, the wider the base you can get, the better. Which is why you don't want to close up your stand so that just the legs cover a small area, you actually want the bottom of the stand to be at right angles, or as wide as possible, like you would see over here on the reflector stand that I have. So it depends on what you're doing, whether you want a standard stand, a C stand or compact, but just make sure whatever you get, that you don't go cheap on. Make sure it kind of fits the needs that you have for it. Now while I'm on stand subject area, let's look at two more things related to stands. So we have this tool right here. This is a reflector holder. I get asked this question nonstop, people ask me all of the time, well, what do you do if you don't have an assistant to hold your reflectors or to hold your lights? Well, this is what you do. This is a reflector stand, I can change the angle, change the height, I can point so I can catch the light towards my subject, and I also have a sandbag on it, so that it doesn't fall over in the wind. This particular one is... This one, it said it was Photoflex, but didn't they go out of business? It's Photoflex. Yeah, the one I have at home is Westcott, so I recommend that if you're like, "Oh wow, I don't have an assistant "but I want to use a reflector," try one of those. Then also in the studio, it's really nice if you just want a little bit of fill for clamshell from below and you don't want to have your subject holding the reflector because they can't pose with their hands and they can't move as freely, try one of those and that's going to give you a really nice result and then free up your hands without having another assistant. The next thing from stands would be these things called boom arms. If you shoot in the studio, get a boom arm. For sure, definitely get a boom arm and the one that I really like is made by Avenger. There's a mini one and there's a larger one, so this one right here. What a boom arm does is it allows you to put your light on this arm and get it out over your subject without the stand in your shot. Because usually what happens if your light is on the top of the stand and you want it centered, you're trying to take a photo and the stand's in every photo and then you have to Photoshop it out and there's no flexibility. Or you notice that every shot you have, the light is always far off to the side because you've had to move it far off to the side to get it out of the shot, this boom arm allows me to bring the light up over top of my subject without being in my frame. So if you're using a beauty dish, if you're using a soft box, definitely check one of these out. I use this at all times on my main light. There is never a time where I'm shooting in the studio where I'm not using a boom arm. It also gives you the ability to have a counterweight on the end if you want. That is called a boom arm. So let me just show you that, so there's another example of a boom arm. Sandbags, as I said before, on the larger leg underneath the weight. Another essential thing for any photographer to have would be gaffers tape. Gaffers tape is the fix all everything solution, I can't even tell you, I just use it for everything. Taping down backgrounds, taping things together, labeling things, what's nice about it is that it's strong, it's very durable, but it doesn't leave the tacky effect that you get from duct tape. Because if you put duct tape on a light, it'll heat up, it melts and it leaves a really nasty residue, but the same thing doesn't happen with gaffers tape. Also, if you're shooting out on location, or let's say that you set up in some location, and you have all of the cords from all your lights going everywhere. If people trip and fall, it's a liability to you, so you use gaffers tape to tape that down for safety purposes. It comes in every color, every pattern possible. In my studio I have lots of black and lots of red, so it fits me perfectly. So that would be gaffers tape. While I'm over here looking at an accessory I have on this side as well, you will also see me a lot times working with apple boxes. Apple boxes have many purposes, they come in different sizes, this one over here is a full apple box, this one's a half, they also have quarter, some of them are black. I actually bought a lot of really old vintage apple boxes recently, as set kit things, but I'll use it to stand on when I need to get a slightly higher angle and I can ask for the half apple or the full apple box depending on how high up I need to get. Or sometimes, I'll use it so that a client can put a knee up to help with posing. It just gives them a little bit of elevation. Or maybe I'll use and stack several to put something on top of it, to give that a little bit of elevation. I don't know, I end up using it for all different things. So, I recommend that if you have a studio space, getting a couple apple boxes, just it ends up making life easier. I use it for posing a lot. Alright, let's continue down the line. Cinefoil, okay. Cinefoil is black tin foil that you can use for lots of different purposes, but what's good about it is you typically use it with lights and it does not melt or catch on fire, this is what it is made for. They use this foil in things like in theater productions to block off light from backgrounds and that's usually what I use it for in my studio. If I need to be on the go and I don't have barn doors, I use barn doors to give me really narrow strips and beams of light. I can also take my Cinefoil and my gaffers tape and make barn doors on the go. Or, if I'm shooting in a space and there's this really undesirable light being kicked on the background, I can take a piece of Cinefoil and put it between the light and background to cast a shadow. Or I could roll it up and turn it into a snoot, or sometimes I'll use a piece to cast a shadow on the face. So basically, I use it to block off light from places I don't want it to be or control light. It's really nice when you're traveling, if you can't carry everything with you, it ends up solving a lot lighting problems. So this is Cinefoil by Rosco. Alright. Next down the list, clamps. In a studio space, I have so many different clamps. I'm clamping all different things, whether I'm clamping the top of a seamless, or the top of a background so that it stays in place. Or I carry a lot of these little clamps because I use these to clamp, maybe clothing in place or if a necklace on my subject breaks and they still want to wear the necklace, I can clamp the necklace or whatever it may be. These are both A clamps because they look like As. Whereas C clamps, they looks like Cs. And usually C clamps, if it's in my studio space, they would be for bigger sets or bigger productions like trying to hold a piece of V flat or a piece of foam core up against a corner, or block something off or hold something overhead. But I use these A clamps all the time for all sorts of different things. Okay. So speaking of V flats, V flats are large pieces of foam core, typically they're four foot by eight foot and they're taped together in the middle. Usually one side is white and the other side is black. What you can use these for are full body reflectors, or ways to block out light or eat up light. I use these in many different ways, sometimes I use the black side as negative fill. I put it up near my subject and it sucks out all the light, it gives me more dramatic shadows. Or maybe there's little light spilling on the background that I don't want, I'd set up a V flat in order to block that light from hitting the background. Sometimes I'll use the white as a way to capture window light and bounce it back at my subject. So there's lots of uses of these. If you live in a place where there is a theater supply company, or there's a theater in general, get in contact with them because a lot of times you can get these delivered, but they cost as much to have them delivered as they do to buy them, so if there's a theater supply or art supply company near you, check in with them to see if you can get it. Otherwise, you can go to Home Depot and make your own. You can get pieces of board, pieces of foam, paint one side black, paint one side white. But that's all they are is pieces of foam core, two of them taped together and they're very large four by eight foot pieces. Alright, so let me continue with a couple other things here. I'm gonna just talk about a few other things that I have on the table to address a few of these. I covered the gaffers tape, covered the stands, perfect. I mentioned in the segment on lens choice that sometimes, as a wedding photographer, it was really, really useful to have a 24- on one camera on one hip and a 70-200 on the other side because at all times I had instant access from 24 to 200 at 2.8. So there are actually straps that are made for this purpose. So this goes over the shoulders, it takes a lot of the weight off, and you could have a camera on either side. So this is another product, another strap made by Black Rapid. Going on down the line here, Pocket Wizards. When you have studio strobes or studio speed lights, you need a way to fire them and the most popular brand, the most well-known and trusted brand out there is Pocket Wizard. So, if someone says, can I have a Pocket Wizard, do you have a Pocket Wizard? They're asking if you have something like this to trigger or to fire the lights. What's nice about these is that they're wireless, so you don't have to be connected to your light. You can be far away from it. Some of them, depending on which brand or specific model you have, you can change the power of the light from the actual Pocket Wizard. I can set them on lots of different channels. There's actually a lot that I could talk about for Pocket Wizards, but just know that these exist and that they have a lot of different capabilities. If you go to their website, they talk all about all of the different models that they have. Another accessory that I really like and that I use all the time is something called variable neutral density filters. A variable neutral density filter is basically sunglasses for your camera. So on a bright and sunny day, if you go outside and it's super bright and you're using a flash, a lot of times what you need to do is you need to close down your aperture really, really small in order to not go over exposed and still stay within your sync speed. I have taught several classes and we'll also be teaching a segment about shooting speed lights and strobes on location where I'll cover this essential part. But sometimes I don't want to shoot at F 16. I don't want to shoot with a really small aperture. What I'd love to do is shoot really wide apertures. Or maybe I'm not using speed lights at all, but I've got my 1.2 lens out on location and I want to be able to shoot at 1.2, but I'm at like at 1/8,000th of a second for my shutter speed because it is bright in the middle of the day, what these variable neutral density filters do is they let you put them in front of your lens. Then when you rotate them, it cuts out light. For this particular one, this is made by Heliopan, I can cut out from one stop of light, or I can rotate it and cut all the way up to six entire stops of light. So I use this when I want to be able to open up wider, cut out light, shoot at a slower shutter speed, all of those sorts of things. These I use very, very often. They also have ones that aren't variable. This one allows me to rotate the front. They also have ones where you can just cut out one stop, two stops, or three stops of light by putting these neutral filters in front of your camera. The key is that they're neutral, so there's not going to be any color cast or any change, it just darken down, or acts like sunglasses to your camera. Okay, let's take a look at a couple final tools here. I always keep a set of gels in the studio. I have color corrective ones, so if I'm trying to match tungsten lights and daylight balance lights, I can do so with gels. But I use a lot of creative gel kits, purple and magenta and teal and green. This allows me to add special effects in the studio. Usually the kit that I have is either the Lee filters or the Rosco gels. The reflector that I use most often is this one, it's a Westcott, it's not this particular one. I use the Westcott 30 inch silver and white reflector. I use it all the time. You'll see me use it in the studio, you'll see me use it on location. They're relatively inexpensive and they'll have, depending on which one you get, it might have white and diffusion and silver and some of them have gold or silver gold mix and I usually use just white and just silver, and I almost always use 30 inches. So the very last couple of things that I have up here are speed light related. I have a bunch of different speed light things. I'm going to cover speed lights more in depth later on in the bootcamp. So I'll talk about speed light modifiers and different tools, but I wanted to talk about some on-camera flash accessories. When you have your flash on-camera, the light can be horrendous. It can be really, really contrasty, it can be very dramatic, it can be very, very harsh. So there's many accessories that are made to soften, diffuse and spread out this light. This is the idea behind these accessories so they actually go on top of your flash while it is still on your camera just to make it broader and more diffused. It could be something as simple as just this little dome, this one is made for Nikon flashes, they make ones for every different flash you have. All it does is it kicks out and spreads the light out more by putting it on top of your flash. Softens it a little, but if you're in a room like this and maybe I want to bounce the light a little bit more off the ceiling or a little bit more off the wall, soften it a bit, just adding something like this little piece of plastic makes a big difference to the quality and the spread of the light. But taking that same idea even further, this particular modifier, I've had since I was like, I don't know, 18, 19? And this is a Gary Fong Lightsphere. This goes on top of your speed light and it does the same thing. Generally when you're using a speed light, your goal's to diffuse the light, to spread it out, to make the light source larger. The larger the light source is relative to the subject, the softer the light. So in this instance, what it does is the light kicks up into this dome, kicks it every different direction off the ceiling, off the walls, and it just gives you a much softer result. And so this, when I shot weddings, I would use all of the time, but sometimes shooting out on location, just adding a kick of light, a little bit of catch light to the eyes, this could be just a soft light source for a little bit more of that sparkle to the eyes. So you might consider that. Another brand that I have over here, this is called the Light Spin 360. This particular tool, this particular modifier or accessory attaches to the top of your speed light and then it has all these things and these are just a couple that brought with me. There are all of these different adapters that can go on top, they just kind of screw in and so when they screw in, you can diffuse the light a little bit, or I could add this white adapter that will kick a little bit of light forward, or I can screw this thing in that then acts as a fill card so I can bounce some light off of the ceiling but then some of the flash is gonna catch in the fill card and kick forward to give a larger light source to my subject and a little bit of catch light to the eye. So, as you can see, I'm going through here and there's little domes, there's bigger domes, there's fill cards, there's things that spread the light out more. There are so many different things and there are tons of different brands. Sometimes this is the benefit of going to a camera store or going to one of the expos, going to one of these shows, because then you can get your hands on it, test them out, see which one you like best. One of the ones I use often for on-camera just trying to soften the light a bit, will be something like this. This is a Rogue FlashBender, this particular one is the XL Pro. What it does is it achieves some of the goals that I said before. It makes the light softer and bigger, kicks the light up in there, bounces it around and gives me just a big, soft light source coming at my subject. I've got different sizes of those. In other words, there are tons of different accessories; accessories that are bags, accessories that are going to be for your flash, for camera straps. Here's the thing, they don't make you a better photographer. But when you figure out the type of work you do, you have to figure out how to kind of improve quality of life and make you more efficient at your job so you can focus on the things that you want to. So maybe that would be a camera bag for travel that you can guarantee you can carry on and get all of that gear. Or maybe you're doing a lot of flash on-camera where you just want a little bit of a softer light source and a little bit more kick to the eyes. Or maybe you have a bad back and so you want to get a camera holster than you can hold the camera at your hips. There are all of these different tools and really what it comes down to, it doesn't make you a better photographer, but it makes your life easier, which makes photography better for you.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting on Location
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


One of my favorite courses thus far on Creative Live, and definitely well worth the purchase price. Lindsay effectively demystifies many of the critical stumbling blocks to achieving a practical understanding of many critical elements of portrait photography. I would rate this course as being perfect for the advanced photographer - a couple of the concepts might be beyond that of a casual/intermediate photographer, but even they would probably gain a great deal from this course. Her discussion on equipment, in particular was superbly done, and allows one to move forward in beginning to make the right choices to achieve whatever effect one is after in terms of capturing the subject. Finally, the great thing about this course, and the thing which makes it such a great value, is the overall scope of what is being taught. Lindsay covers almost everything imaginable, and does it all in a manner which is enjoyable, and makes the time fly by. There were many, many times during the various days of this course during which Lindsay would share some particularly great tip or technique, and I would think "Insert bookmark here." I don't dole out praise easily (actually left a fairly scathing review on another course here recently) but this course has won me over. Highly, HIGHLY recommended. I'm definitely going to check out her other courses as well.

a Creativelive Student

This is Lindsay's best course to date and believe me, she has given us some good ones already on Creative Live. She hit this one out of the park! She was very well prepared and organized. I could tell that Lindsay put a lot of work into preparation for the class because she just kept giving us great information non stop. There was no down time or wasted moments. All future instructors on Creative Live should be encouraged to watch this course just to see what good instruction looks like. Lindsay has evolved over the past few years and just keeps getting better as time passes. Thank you Lindsay and thank you Creative Live for a job well done! Craig Banton


This class is one of the best investments I have made in my photography business. Lindsay is an excellent teacher. She is a seasoned, yet humble, professional. Unlike some other instructors I have seen on creative live, there isn’t a lot of fluff in her teaching. She sticks to the topics, gets all the information in, but still manages to engage and relate to the audience with real life examples of her own experiences in photography. I have been a professional photographer for several years, but have mostly stuck to natural light. This course gave me the confidence to tackle more advanced lighting setups and expand my capabilities as a photographer. I really appreciate that she doesn’t bash flat lighting, like other lighting videos I have tried to watch. Most portrait clients do not want photographs with dramatic lighting, they want to look their best, and I’m glad that she acknowledges this. This class gives you the information you need to create whatever photos you want to create.

Student Work