Studio Lighting is in my blood, its one of my favorite things about photography, second to the interaction I get when I am photographing people. Today I get to marry the two of those together while teaching eight other photographers how to do a basic Studio Lighting set, here at the Aperture Academy in Campbell, California.
At eight as I walk into the Aperture Academy Gallery and studio, to set up for the nine o'clock Studio Lighting Workshop, and I am met with Scott Donschikowski, another great instructor from Aperture Academy and a good friend of mine. He was already there super excited with the strobe heads all laid out on a table, and the soft boxes and other studio lighting gear spread out in a display that would rival the best archeologists recent dinosaur bone discovery. Lets just say, if I love studio lighting and portrait photography, Scott really really, loves it. We briefly go over the days schedule for the day and then I start making the text messages to the models, and hair and make up team. We know how they love to sleep in!
At about eight forty five the students begin to arrive. The students came rolling in like old high school friends, since they all had been to at least one of our classes in the past. We jumped right into introduction to and gave a brief overview of what the Aperture Academy workshop would look like for the rest of the day, and then continued with our slide show. Scott and I go back and forth presenting Studio lighting power point, trying to give a solid basis for lighting and prepare the class for the fun they are about to embark on.
The models arrive for hair and make up just as we break out for the hands on demo with the various studio lighting equipment. We showed them, Elinchrom 600's, and the Bowens Gemini's and even the ever so popular Profoto D100's. Along with several light modifiers, including soft boxes, reflectors, snoots and grids. Then Scott came in to really go over his favorite and an industry standard, the Elinchrom Beauty Dish. This light was going to be our biggest hit of the day, because of how well it works, and how great the class did with this lighting set up.
After everyone got a good feel for the lights, stands, and even set up and backdrop and lights we broke for lunch. Scott finished setting up the other Bowens Gemini's and a gridded soft box, as I checked in with the models and Make Up artist. I helped pick out the wardrobe, provided to us by Unfold Clothing Company, located here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Scott and I tested all the lighting set-ups before the students returned to the Aperture Academy Gallery.
The models were finished just as the students returned from lunch, and we begin to shoot. We gather everyone up at the studio set up we call, "white out." This set up is the classic bright white portrait lighting set up, and with the model ready we talk about key light, and fill light, along with the reasons one might have for shooting with this set up. .
We continued on to the other studio lighting set up, "Black Out." This set up was very simple, and moody. Using one Bowen's light with a gridded soft box we were able to isolate the subject with beautiful soft light and nice soft shadows that hide the background. Once the students felt comfortable shooting with the strobes we broke up into two groups of four, one per lighting set up and set them free to experiment.
After a few hours of shooting, each group getting to go between the two lighting setups and the models changed their looks a few times. We gathered them up for the classic Aperture Academy group shot and then said far well to our beautiful models for the day. Then the last part, and some might say the most important part of digital photography, the editing. Adobe Photoshop Light Room is such a powerful editing program, and every shoot I do I use Light Room, to import and organize my images. Scott the other instructor for the day, is also a huge fan and a certified instructor for Adobe Photoshop, and Light Room, so he and I both went over our suggested edits for the amazing Portraits they took in todays Studio Lighting workshop, at the Aperture Academy. This portion of the class took us to the end. Where Scott had a chance to edit an image from start to finish, showing the class both what he would do and how fast and simple it can be to use industry standard programs from Adobe.
Thanks to the team, Scott Donschikowski, My self Ajay Fay, Lisa- Hair and make up, and the two beautiful and lovely models, Sonya, and Olga. And of course to all of the Aperture Academy Students who attended this workshop, and who are the reason we do what we do!
Until Next time,
Happy Holidays from Ajay, Scott and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.