Shop Light Photography

HI Guys, I just did this entire session with about $20 worth of lighting. Here’s the deal – I’ve have been getting a lot of e-mail’s from newer photographers saying things like.. if I only had all the equipment you had etc… I could produce the same results. This got me thinking (which is very scary) that I should do an entire session with very basic lighting or possibly even my pocket camera to prove that it’s not just the equipment, but the the understanding of how to use the equipment and how to “see light”. Maybe I will do my next session with my iphone, or my Canon G10.

Here’s one of the images from the shoot. Let me know what you think and give me some feedback as to what you would like me to blog about next.


Here’s a pull back shot from the entire session. One shop light overhead on boom as the main light, one down low to fill in the shadows, and one on boom as the hair light. The black thing in front is the fan I used to blow her hair to create some movement in the image.




Equipment: Canon 5D Mark II, 1/200 sec @ f2.8., 70mm – 200mm lens, ISO 800.

Keep shooting… Mike


Motivational Monday – Never never give up or Quit!

Vince  Lombardi came up with one of the world’s most famous motivational commands of all, beloved of managers everywhere: “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.”This is so true in life and in business… I know too many studios that have thrown in the towel recently because they couldn’t see the finish line and it was just around the next corner. Check out this video for your motivational Monday.

Arthur Boorman was a disabled veteran of the Gulf War for 15 years, and was told by his doctors that he would never be able to walk on his own, ever again.He stumbled upon an article about Diamond Dallas Page doing Yoga and decided to give it a try — he couldn’t do traditional, higher impact exercise, so he tried DDP YOGA and sent an email to Dallas telling him his story.Dallas was so moved by his story, he began emailing and speaking on the phone with Arthur throughout his journey – he encouraged Arthur to keep going and to believe that anything was possible. Even though doctors told him walking would never happen, Arthur was persistent. He fell many times, but kept going.Arthur was getting stronger rapidly, and he was losing weight at an incredible rate! Because of DDP’s specialized workout, he gained tremendous balance and flexibility — which gave him hope that maybe someday, he’d be able to walk again.His story is proof, that we cannot place limits on what we are capable of doing, because we often do not know our own potential. Niether Arthur, nor Dallas knew what he would go on to accomplish, but this video speaks for itself. In less than a year, Arthur completely transformed his life. If only he had known what he was capable of, 15 years earlier.

Do not waste any time thinking you are stuck – you can take control over your life, and change it faster than you might think.

Hopefully this story can inspire you to follow your dreams – whatever they may be.
Anything is Possible!

Using Gels to Change Background Color

It seems like I get asked at least once a week by newer photographers just starting out “if you could only purchase  one background, what would you  get?”.


I usually recommend  a gray muslin background for the simple fact that it is very easy to get numerous looks out of this one background. By adding gels to the background light, it is very easy to change the background color to match the customer’s outfit. I have created this Quick Tips video to show you how easy it is to get hundreds of background of a simple gray muslin.


Let me know if you find this tip helpful… or any ideas you would like to see for future Quick Tips tutorials.

“Beauty in Mind” – The Thinking Behind Shooting Memorable Beauty Photographs By: John Farrar

This is a trailer from a video we just finished featuring fashion photographer John Farrar. His new video is titled “Beauty in Mind” – The thinking Behind Shooting Memorable Beauty Photographs By: John Farrar

From John Farrar the Fashion Photographer of the Year in 2010 & 2011

Farrar’s Beauty in the Mind DVD, which includes a discussion of his widely heralded work and a live shoot in which he explains as he works. You will see a masterpiece being made.

A few notes from Farrar follow.

  • Back up every shot with a half dozen brackets. The model, makeup and studio time are all set so there’s no need to suffer the consequences of trying to save a few seconds.
  • Wanting to be outstanding is step one. Farrar notes that we all see a lot of photos every day but rarely do we see one that will be remembered. His advice: Plan in advance to make your shoot something memorable.
  • Organize your shoot in detail but don’t become inflexible in your plan of action. Be ready to change your direction if the session suggests you do so.
  • ‘Beautiful’ isn’t enough. Do something unique. Stand apart.
  • Give your work a second look the next day. Don’t send anything out immediately after the shoot. Looking at it the next day will be a completely different experience. Work on it again then, too.
  • Don’t rush the session. Saving a few minutes is not your goal. His average time per session is one hour, but he says, if it takes more time than that, stay with it.
  • Don’t be too concerned about people considering your ideas to be odd. Farrar quotes Bacon in saying, “There is no beauty without strangeness.”
  • Props can be anything. Use your imagination. In Farrar’s work we see a girl with a wet paint brush over one eye, another girl emerging from the water with a fish in her mouth, and head coverings made of a washing machine hose, a paper milk carton, etc. and Farrar’s  famous pair of red shoes. He also had his makeup artist paint a crisscross pattern on one girl’s face. It was definitely memorable.
  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  Don’t hesitate to do something completely different from what Farrar and other masters are doing. You can learn from them but what you eventually must do is develop is a signature style of your own.

Dozen of the world’s top models have raved breathlessly about Farrar, including one that summed up the others saying: “You are WOW!”

Order John’s New Training Video here:  Beauty in Mind Training Video

Video Trailer:






Behind-The-Scenes with Kaylee

This was a quick little behind-the-scenes shoot we did last week during a portfolio shoot last week. All of the lighting on these images was done with one Canon 580EXII Speedlite off camera in a small soft box.

I cropped to include the flowers in the foreground to give  the image a greater  more depth in the image.

Technical Stuff:
Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 85 mm 1/100 sec @ f2, ISO 100
Lighting: 580 EX II in ETTL mode
Camera Exp Comp: -2/3rd

Here are a couple of the images from the shoot. Let me know what you think and if you have any questions.

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One Light Fashion

Hi gang.  This is a shot from a couple weeks ago I made during the shoot we were doing for StudioStyles.  I was shooting outside the beautiful Continental Club in Orange Park Florida.  The shot was part of a training video we were doing  about on-location lighting using Speedlites.   I find myself using this setup more and more lately. While working around  these stairs I was  loving all of the wonderful lines and shapes of these old stairs and decided to compose the image shooting through the stair railing.   This was one of my favorites from this particular session. Let me know what you think.

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The lighting for this particular setup was one Canon 580EXII  Speedlite in  a small soft box placed approximately 45° to the models right.  The ambient light was underexposed by one stop creating the lighting ratio on her face that you see in the above image. Here’s a light diagram that shows the set-up. Let me know if you have any questions…

.One light Diagram2