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Create Light!

A lot of people ask us how we light our photos, almost like we hold some sort of secret technique that pulls our photos into that high-quality, commercial territory.  Want to know the secret? Make it up. That’s all there is to it.  Of course we know the basics, like three point lighting set-ups and all that, but to get something truly unique you have to play with the lights.  Standard lighting set-ups will give you photos that are clean and even, but saying, “Hey, what happens if we move this light over here and, uh, put a blue scrim over it?” is what actually keeps our images looking fresh.  Also, it’s very helpful to keep track of how you light your photos. We had to start writing down how we lit our projects because customers would ask us to recreate a mood from one of our previous photos, and we’d have no idea how we did it.  

Personally, I get bored pretty easily with natural light photos, so it’s nice that a lot of Spectacle’s projects use HyperSync. HyperSync is a process that lets us shoot at very high shutter speeds, while also still allowing us to capture very cool lighting effects. When we’re shooting outside we can overpower the sun and substitute it with our own lighting.  I don’t like ambient light determining the looks our photos; I’m a fan of building it from the ground up.  This, of course, wouldn’t make sense for a lot of projects we do like Lifestyle and culture shots, because those demand mostly natural light, but it’s great for those projects that demand a different look. Photos taken with HyperSync tend to have a very imaginative feel to them, and give our photos that should look normal a creative edge.  We also surprise ourselves the most with this process. Since HyperSync involves blasting light everywhere, we come up with all kinds of crazy ways to make our photos stand out.  For example, we did a fitness shoot awhile ago, and we took one of our lights, turned it all the way up, laid it on the ground behind and to the left of the subject, and aimed it at our camera.  We then put up a fill light and began shooting it.  We had no idea what it was going to look like, but we ended up with the image below on the very first shot.  

Model: Jamie Flowers, Hair and Make-up: Eva Guy-Reed
Model: Jamie Flowers, Hair and Make-up: Eva Guy-Reed

Don’t be afraid to test new lighting set-ups! When Rich and I do a shoot we get the work that we’ve been paid for done and out of the way, and then we ask the model or customer if they wouldn’t mind sticking around to try out some different lighting styles. This way you already have a subject to photograph, and if they turn out awesome you’ll have new pics for your portfolio instead of photos just of yourself.  So go put your lights everywhere and have fun!