The Light Weekly Workout - w/Mikey
The Lightenupandshoot Light Workout
(set-up shot...I love seeing set-ups)
Little did I know four years ago that the Lightenupandshoot philosophy would inspire so many people around the world, take me down a seemingly never ending path of adventure and give me access to exclusive groups of people. I originally started LUAS to document my journey living in a foreign country and to show that an ex-mortgage professional could achieve success outside the world of finance.
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I’m still amazed to receive countless emails from shooters from around the globe I am continually inspired to push the envelop creatively. I love my job as commercial photographer and educator in the industry; my style and crazy antics may be unorthodox in comparison to the rest of the industry, I continue to authentically push forward with the same passion as day one. Originally the minimalist approach to gear (The Backpacker Studio) was developed out of necessity because I was living in South America and doing a lot of traveling the first couple of years primarily teaching photography workshops. This post is about the evolution of an artist, commercial photographer and someone who loves to share knowledge by shooting with others. I believe the evolution of a shooter happens through a variety of experiences and learning from people who give inspiration. I want to share with you my “light workout” routine on a weekly basis and encourage the bold few to join me. My goal is to inspire YOU to create magical moments and amazing photographs through a minimalist approach to photography while having fun. The Lightenupandshoot Style is simple: have fun, expand your network of friends and create amazing images.
Practice sounds like a nasty four-letter word, but I don’t view honing in on skills as something painful. I turn that word practice into a “photo shoot.” Photo shoot just sounds good, doesn’t it? What goes into a photo shoot? Location, concepts, models, production assistants, gear and technical challenges comes to mind. I know I have a certain level of technical proficiency to impress the majority of my clients, but the truth is I need to practice technical skills to keep up my chops and continually evolve artistically. It’s easy to fall into a “know it all" mindset and avoid practicing the basics. My eye is far more advanced than my technical skills and equipment; to keep sharp I must organize a shoot at least once a week.
(the intentional dolphin eyes cracked me up)
Boot Camp is also a good idea: A few times a year I organize the ultimate workout; I call it a Tag Along. I invite other photographers to meet me at an exotic location to shoot with me. A Tag Along is the ultimate way to learn (shoot with someone who inspires you). I love shooting and sharing experiences with people that are passionate about photography and travel. The Lightenupandshoot Light Workout is the online equivalent to a Tag Along. I’m going to share with you my weekly workout and hope you share your experiences as well. Feel free to submit your pictures, ideas, videos or anything that inspired you to get out and shoot.
There are no rules in the Lightenupandshoot Light Workout, the only requirement is that you organize some sort of shoot and make it happen. A workout can be as simple as walking down the street with a camera and a lens; letting the environment dictate your focus.
Last week’s workout:
Sunday night I received a text message from a model friend, “Mikey, want to do a beach shoot Tuesday night?” The text from my friend, Sylvia, got me out of the studio where I have been spending most of my time the past two months shooting solely natural light. I hadn’t cranked up the off camera strobes in months and I knew I needed some practice before an upcoming commercial job. This weeks workout: tighten up my light chops.
(I love combining images to tell a story)
Knowing that the beach has a lot of corny backdrops I decided on a run and gun approach and threw together a simple one strobe set up armed with a beauty dish. It took me about 30 minutes to put together a simple rig (testing batteries, cords, triggers, deciding on lenses, etc.). I told the model to dress beach skater; she invited some of her friends and we turned into a small party.
(beauty dish produces a specular light, in this case the flare trumped the specularity)
The location, gear and model were in place. What to practice? The basics! I already had a challenge putting together a light rig, I knew I needed to work on simple lighting. I always start simple: bang out a good exposure with a desired aperture and then adjust settings to control ambient. Once that is nailed, it’s time to focus on directing your model. 95% of great photography encompasses the basics, there’s no reason to overly complicate things unless your vision requires complex lighting. Remember that there is always a continuous light source (such as the sun) and figure out a way to use that light source to minimize your light set-up. Did I mention that 95% of statistics are bullshit? LOL. There is no magic formula; the point of last weeks practice was to have fun and get back to what I consider is basic lighting. As a teacher I encourage shooters to rock their strengths and then exaggerate it. Your style evolves from the exaggeration. In the images from the beach shoot, I exaggerated the contrast of shadow and light, while re-familiarizing myself with off camera strobe.
(interesting shadows with only one light)
I know someone will ask about gear and camera settings; I’ll list the equipment but you need to practice so you can come up with your own camera settings:
24-70 2.8 (my most versatile lens)
Paul C. Buff strobe with battery pack
22” Beauty Dish
12’ Avenger Light Stand
Nikon crop sensor – D7000 (mainly because I hadn’t shot with the backup in a long time)
Neutral Density Filter (allows me to shoot with wide apertures)
(ND and wide apertures produces an unfamilar look)
Feel free to submit photos, share ideas for upcoming shoots, present concepts, talk about inspiring gear and/or anything that fits into the category of a light workout.