I get a lot of questions about the type of lighting I use when I’m shooting on location. And for the most part, it’s pretty similar to the lighting I use when I’m shooting in studio.
Meaning, quite simply, I use a variety of lighting no matter where I’m shooting.
But here’s the thing, I don’t have the time, energy or attention span to create super-complicated lighting setups when I’m on location. In fact, I rarely use ‘super-complicated’ lighting setups even when I’m in my studio. It’s a waste of my time, and having to stop and tweak multiple lights and modifiers puts me at risk of losing the flow and connection with my client.
But I learned very early on that if I wanted to really get the attention of my ideal clients, I had to be able to create images that looked different from what everyone else in my area was doing. And I also had to be able to create variety in my images within a single session if I wanted to consistently get high sales from my seniors.
The majority of photographers in my area claim to be ‘natural light photographers.’ It’s like yelling “Mom!” in a grocery store – they’re everywhere.
While photographing with natural light is one of my favorite things to do, if that’s all that I use for my lighting then I start to blend in with the thousands of other photographers who are doing the same thing. And what’s worse is that my images from each session would all look pretty much the same, just with a different outfit or background.
And trying to compete in that market is tough. Because if what you’re offering is just a slightly different version of what everyone else is doing, the only thing your clients have to compare you on is price.
‘Natural light’ photography requires no less skill than any other type of photography; you must still be able to understand the light, see the light, mold the light and modify the light to create the final image just as if you were using flash, constant lighting, OCF or anything else. And just as important, you must be able to effectively use shadows as well, in order to create depth and life with your images.
When I’m shooting on location I have 3 primary criteria I use for lighting:
- It must be simple
- It must be easy to setup
- I must be able to do it by myself (and quickly)
If it isn’t something I can carry with me, setup and use on my own then it’s not going to work with my style of shooting.
One of my favorite things to use for lighting on location are Ice Lights. Ice Lights are continuous LED portable light ‘wands’ that can be used in numerous ways, both indoors and outdoors, whether you work alone or with an assistant.
Recently, Patrick McBride, Renee Bowen and I taught a Seniors Ignite Shootout in Las Vegas. The purpose of these instructional shootouts is to teach photographers hands on how to incorporate variety into their images through the use of Posing Flow, simple (and inexpensive) lighting that can be used anywhere, and storytelling.
And one of the light sources we use is Ice Lights – both the original ‘real’ Ice Lights as well as the less expensive ‘knock off’ continuous LED versions.
There are several different ways to use Ice Lights effectively, and we had a blast showing the attendees in person how to easily incorporate several different looks into their sessions simply by adding one or two Ice Lights in the right way!
We were also able to show them ways to work more effectively with their clients using Posing Flow and storytelling, which helped them to create incredible images for their marketing that will stand out to their ideal clients. Being able to show your clients something they can’t get from ‘just anyone’ is critical when it comes to marketing!
These are just a few examples using the Ice Lights at the Seniors Ignite Vegas Shootout. We used them both indoors and outdoors, during the daytime, at dusk and at night.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jen Basford (Images 1-5) + Renee Bowen (Images 6-9)
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