When I shoot portraits I like to do a different lighting scheme everytime. Before I shoot a client I already have an idea for what I want in my head(for the most part -_-). First, playing with shadows in lighting make a portrait so much more dramatic and interesting. I see many photographers just flood people with light(two umbrellas 45 deg. or whatever), this is a recipe for flat lighting. BUT.. this situation does WORK a lot of the time for the client so I am not knocking on those who use it. From a photographer to photographer stand point though.. if this is your setup 80 – 100% of the time(since the beginning) your lighting technique will not improve.. Reason being because you don’t really need to know how to control/direct your light when shooting with this kind of set up which will bite you in the ass one day.. believe me I learned the hard way -_-
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming to be a good photographer because I am FARRRR from it.. I am just trying to help others learn from the mistakes I have made in the past to get me where I am today. This post is about helping beginner photographers get past this phase in their photography. For the beginner “strobist” many share the common goal of “no shadows.” I am GUILTY of this when I first started using lighting. I used to always be about FILL LIGHT all the time, and that I must never have a shadow anywhere.
Some steps to help get away from this flood light setup:
1. Use something other than umbrellas. (obviously it depends on the location/situation.. not saying never use these again, but try a modifier with more control.. umbrellas just spill too much light!)
2. Take your initial test shots with one light.. then work the rest in. One thing I learned was when one of my strobes would misfire during the test shots I like the results better due to the shadows that were created.
3. Practice.. one reason you are stuck using this setup is because you don’t practice. The only time you touch your strobes is when you are actually shooting for a client. This will get you nowhere fast. At least take chances when shooting a new client! ( I know many of you reading this are guilty! Cause I was!)
4. Numbers.. Many photographers think that the more lights they use during a shoot the better. NEGATIVE. Unless you have a good amount of experience with lighting you will soon learn that you will just get confused and some of your lights will have no effect on the shot at all.. this equals a waste of your effort AND the clients time. So for those just starting.. keep it to a minimum
5. Get over yourself.. if you think you are awesome already you will not get better.. popularity will not make you better.. cooler clients will not make you better either.. YOU will make you better.
Here are some examples of incorporating shadows in my portraits.