28 May NATURAL BEAUTY
Some photographers ask me about how I learned studio lighting to which I respond “school.” They may ask what text books I used in class to which I respond, “what books?” In truth when I was going to school I never had a text book that taught me how to set up lights. If I were to make a comparison, my lighting course in some ways was not to far off from a auto shop teacher dumping a bunch of parts on a floor, giving the students some tools and telling you to make it work sans-manual, “if you need some assistance find a working engine.” The working engine in my case was the sun. The first assignment I had when I was going to school was to look at the sun from dawn to dusk and observe the qualities. “The sun is the best light and your best teacher” the professor would say. Certainly the sun has been my best lighting teacher, sometimes I will see a certain lighting condition and I will go back and try to recreate that lighting in studio. Of course if the opportunity arises I will use natural lights exclusively. Natural light can be a challenge as you may have a particular idea for a shot but the light doesn’t allow it. Using natural light allows me to short-circuit control, as a commercial photographer I like full control, but sometimes when you take away the control, things happen that were not planned that turn out to be wonderful. Here in Japan a lot of my clients, especially hair salons want me to use or have the look of natural light. If I am using strobes to create natural light I am using very large light modifiers, ideally sofboxes. In the case here I am simply using reflectors and using my environment, in this case a white wall to act as a reflector. As much as I do like natural light, or for as much as I also use a lot of strobe lighting, I wear no badges of honour saying one is better than the other, to me all that matters is that the client has photos that they like.