One of the things I spoke about when presenting at the recent Photoshop World Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida was about lighting styles and how The Same ISN’T the Same.
So I guess I’d better explain what I mean here because on face value it seems a kind of strange comment to make. Quite simple what I’m talking about here is that just because you use the same lighting style over and over, this doens’t mean that you’re pictures will all looks the same. How do I know this? Well look at the work of incredibly well known Photographers such as Annie Leibovitz, Yousuf Karsh, Mark Seliger and so on… They have a lighting style they turn to over and over again; a lighting style and a final look of their images following post production that is identifiable as their work. Sure they may change it up from time to time but in the main, they turn to a lighting style they have mastered and then all the directing and styling becomes the main focus and it’s this that makes their pictures different.
As Photographers with portfolio we need to ensure that we have a continuity across our images; not in the styling but in the lighting and overall look given to our pictures. Does this make sense?
The reason I say this is because of my own experience. A few years ago, when it came to a new photo shoot, each and every time I would be thinking what I could do different to the lighting. For me I was spending more time agonising over the lighting when my energy really should have been into the styling and directing the model / person I was photographing.
Lighting should be second nature. Lighting shouldn’t be something you have to agonise over. Lighting should be something you just do as part of the set up without stressing and this only becomes possible when you choose a lighting style and do it over and over and over.
Think about it…
If you hold a driving licence, think back to when you first started driving. Heck there was so much to think about. Mirror , Signal, Manoeuvre, Clutch, Biting Point (for those using manual gear boxes), positioning, who has right of way and so it goes on. It seemed there was too much to handle right? But now after driving for a while, doing the same thing over and over again, do you really give it a thought? If a situation arises where you need to make a snap decision to avoid a collision, do you think about the gears, how to brake or does controlling the car just happen and you concentrate on where to point the car?
Do you see what I’m getting at? Now after driving for a while your focus is on the destination, not the technicals of making a car move. Same goes for lighting … do it over and over again so that you don’t just understand it but actually master it, you end up doing the same … focusing on the destination of the final picture i.e. achieving the look you wanted.
So if I can offer any advice … advice that I took and has helped me more than anything, it would be to choose a lighting style and do it again and again and again. Keep the lighting style and put your main focus on the styling and direction. Before you know it, if you haven’t already, you’ll develop a wonderful portfolio of varied images where they’re all the same but different.