Saturday, August 31, 2013

Your Lighting Isn't Static Even When It Is

I never treat my lighting setups as if they are static.  They usually are static in terms of I rarely move my lights around once they're set. But in other ways, they're not static because my models don't have to remain static. I can move them around with simple verbal directions, re-orienting them in different ways to the (static) lighting I've set.

For glam, I mostly light in ways that act as if my models will remain perpendicular to my camera. That, of course, doesn't mean my models will remain perpendicular to my camera. I can orient them, all of them or portions of them, in various ways to my lights. I can even orient them in ways where one of my kickers sort of becomes my main light and my main light becomes a fill light while my other kicker remains a kicker. (If that makes sense.)

By the way, if you're not sure what I mean by a "kicker," kickers are what I call the lights I use to produce specular highlights, edge lights, rim lights, simple highlights, whatever you prefer calling them. I just call them kickers. Others might call them something else. What's in a name, right?

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you're likely aware I mostly prefer three-light setups for glamour: a main light plus two kickers, either side, from slightly behind. That's my go-to glamour lighting. It's simple and efficient to set up and use. (I'm all about simple and efficient.) It has the added benefit of producing the kinds of results my clients prefer, as lacking in creativity as my clients often tend to be. But hey! They're writing the checks. My job is to deliver what they want. If they want something different, which they rarely do, they simply tell me what that is... which again, is a rare occurrence. 

As lacking in creativity as many or most of my clients might be, one thing they do know is what works.  Either that or they employ others, besides myself, who know what works. Since they're in the business of using glamour and tease photos of pretty girls to produce revenue, they are rarely interested in experimenting or altering what they already know works. Money on the line sometimes has a way of making people less daring, less willing to go outside the box whatever box it is... assuming you subscribe to all that "box" stuff, which I don't.

I sometimes see other photographers being a bit too cautious, leastwise in my opinion, about moving models around within the confines of their perfectly planned lighting.  Leastwise, in their minds it's perfect. Personally, I think that's a big mistake. A very limiting mistake. Why? Because I know some of my best photos often get snapped when my models aren't perfectly aligned with my so-called (self-delusional)  perfect lighting. (There's no such thing as perfect lighting, IMO. But that's, perhaps, a subject for another blog update.)

I know a photographer, another pretty girl shooter, who had a large, power-operated, turntable in his studio. Sort of like a big Lazy Susan, if you know what a Lazy Susan is. He'd set his lighting, have his models stand on top of the big Lazy Susan, and then have it slowly spin and turn as he snapped away, all the while directing his models to assume different poses. He could even put a chair, a couch, or other some other piece of furniture on top of the turntable with his models lying or seated on that stuff. Yeah. It was a fairly large and heavy-duty turntable. I have no idea what it cost but I'll bet it wasn't cheap.

Every shot he snapped had his models oriented differently to his lights. He's a very successful pretty girl shooter, by the way. His work, at one time or another, has been featured in just about every higher-end men's magazine, both here and abroad, that features glamour images of beautiful women in various stages of dress and undress.

I used to envy him for his turntable, mostly because I saw how simple and efficient it made the process of re-orienting models to static lights, making it all so much more dynamic with the simple push of the turntable's power button.

I forget the name of the pretty girl at the top. (Click to enlarge.) I snapped it about 6 months or so ago and I'm too lazy to dig through my stuff to find her name. As you can see, I partially re-oriented her so that my kicker, camera-left, became something of a main light for her face -- not really but kind of -- but remained a kicker for the rest of her body.

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