In my journey to make amazing portraits  versus taking pictures, I sought to gain mastery over light and shadow. The mastery of light or the lack thereof is what separates one photographer another.

Usually, when I talk to friends and family about this notion of taking pictures versus making portraitsthey tend to believe that I’m just making a play on words. What’s the difference between making a portrait and taking a picture? Aren’t they the same thing? Not really.

Understanding light—it’s intensity, it’s shape, it’s hue, it’s absence, it’s direction, it’s reflection, it’s speed, and it’s movement are just some of the characteristics that I look for when I’m composing an image. Each of these elements will have an impact on the look and emotion that I’m seeking to create. There is so much that photographers are able to do using natural sunlight as a primary source of light for a portrait. One of the big challenges with natural light is balancing the exposure across the scene. You’ve probably seen a lot of outdoor images where the background is overexposed to compensate for the foreground. I’m not a fan of those images.

One of my favorite natural light photographers is Sean Archer. Archer primarily makes his portraits by shaping the light that comes into his living room. 

Professional photographers must be able to create the perfect light regardless of the time of the day or locationindoors or outside. The sun is only available during the day. This requires moving beyond natural light to producing and shaping artificial light.

Because of my background in video production, my first foray into artificial light was with continuous tungsten and halogen lights. I hated them. I never color balanced the tungsten lamps in production, so post-production always took an extra step to do so. The halogens were bright and clean…but difficult to shape. I hated both of them because the lamps quickly got hot, the ambient heat cause the whole room temperature to quickly rise, and they were dangerous to touch and turn off.

So I moved to LED lamps for continuous light. I love LED lamps simply because they are small and don’t create the heat that traditional lamps produce. Years ago, my LED lights had one drawback, they rarely were ever bright enough to produce the desired effect.  Today, I use LED lights from Rotolight and Zylight that both produce beautiful color balanced light with enough brightness to make the image I want. My Zylight also gives me the ability to create color hues without needing to use CTO Gels. The final benefit of LED lights is that they provide a safer lighting option for clients that may have an adverse reaction to strobe lighting in their eyes.

Moving beyond continuous lighting, photographers move to strobes or flashes to create a desired visual effect. Years ago, I bought a Nikon Speedlight for my flash photography, but eventually gave it away without opening the box. At the same time, I started shooting with SONY Alpha cameras. I later bought another Nikon Speedlight 910 for my Sony cameras…and got some interesting results. However, flash photography with speeedlights simply do produce the professional results that I want for my art or portfolio.

The biggest investment I’ve made beyond my camera bodies and lenses is my pro lighting gear—specifically, monolights. Monolights are strobes. Strobes are flashes. However, they are not speedlights! In the simplest terms, monolights provide far more power than speedlights and create greater illumination for your subject. Typically, it would take three to five speedlights to achieve the same performance I get from just one of my monolights. The greatest advantage monolights have over all other lighting approaches is the amount of modifiers available to sculpt and color your light and shadows. This is game-changing creativity for photographer and her subject. Personally, I prefer shooting with light I create so that I can produce consistent results in any condition.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that only professional photographers use monolights. I believe a professional photographers and photography enthusiasts can make a great image in all lighting conditions that they can shape or modify. That said, I would submit that professional photographers are masters of light and shadow. This mastery requires fluency across the natural light spectrum and artificial lighting gear.

I am constantly experimenting with light and shadows. It helps to continously raise my performance from level of mastery to the next. There is so much achieve and much more learn about light and shadows. I encourage to subscribe to this blog to keep current on hot topics and emerging techniques!

 

Cam

Cam

Storyteller in Light ⁞ Image Alchemist

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Instagram post 2112126888231917939_5401888555 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘻𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘧𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘮𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘨𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘦𝘯𝘥. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮...𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘴𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘦𝘣𝘴 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘢𝘸 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘦. 𝘐𝘵'𝘴 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘢 𝙩𝙚𝙖𝙩...𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘢 𝘧𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘴 (𝘦.𝘨. 𝘥𝘪𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘵𝘴, 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘳 𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘴/𝘣𝘪𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘴) 𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘦! 𝘐'𝘮 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘵 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘻𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘴 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘫𝘰𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘭𝘶𝘣! 𝘛𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘮𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴. ⁣
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𝘌𝘯𝘫𝘰𝘺 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 #nodairy 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬𝘦𝘯𝘥!🍦🥛☕🧀🥞⁣
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𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘻𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘧𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘮𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘨𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘦𝘯𝘥. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮...𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘴𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘦𝘣𝘴 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘢𝘸 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘦. 𝘐𝘵'𝘴 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘢 𝙩𝙚𝙖𝙩...𝘪𝘵'𝘴 𝘢 𝘧𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘴 (𝘦.𝘨. 𝘥𝘪𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘵𝘴, 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘳 𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘴/𝘣𝘪𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘴) 𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘦! 𝘐'𝘮 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘵 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘻𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘴 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘫𝘰𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘭𝘶𝘣! 𝘛𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘮𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴. ⁣ ⁣ 𝘌𝘯𝘫𝘰𝘺 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 #nodairy 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬𝘦𝘯𝘥!🍦🥛☕🧀🥞⁣ ⁣ BE 𝗠𝗔𝗗𝗘 𝗚𝗥𝗔𝗡𝗗⁣ MUSE + MUAH: @𝗙𝗥𝗜𝗗𝗔𝗣𝗟𝗔𝗧𝗧⁣ 📸ALCHEMIST: CAM 𝗘𝗩𝗔𝗡𝗦™⁣ 𝗕𝗢𝗢𝗞 𝗡𝗢𝗪 | mgxc.co/𝗺𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗱⁣ ______________________________⁣ #MADEGRAND #MGXC #MODELBOOK #CAMEVANS #DALLASPHOTOGRAPHER⁣ ⁣ ⁣ # ...

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Instagram post 2111937743651972118_5401888555 𝘐𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘢 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘰𝘧𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 #𝘍𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘍𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘨𝘰 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘮𝘺 #peeps @𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘆𝘁𝗼𝗽𝗶𝗮. 𝘐𝘵'𝘴 𝘢 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 #SugarRush So what's your favorite sweet treat?⁣
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𝘐𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘢 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘰𝘧𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 #𝘍𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘍𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘨𝘰 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘮𝘺 #peeps @𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘆𝘁𝗼𝗽𝗶𝗮. 𝘐𝘵'𝘴 𝘢 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 #SugarRush So what's your favorite sweet treat?⁣ ⁣ ⁣ BE 𝗠𝗔𝗗𝗘 𝗚𝗥𝗔𝗡𝗗 | 𝗜𝗚𝗧𝗩⁣ MUSE + MUAH: @𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗱𝗮𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘁𝘁⁣ 📸ALCHEMIST: CAM 𝗘𝗩𝗔𝗡𝗦™⁣ #𝗕𝗢𝗢𝗞𝗔𝗦𝗛𝗢𝗢𝗧 | mgxc.co/𝗺𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗱⁣ 𝗖𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗺𝘆 𝗦𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗯𝘁𝘀/𝗼𝘂𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲𝘀⁣ ______________________________⁣ #MADEGRAND #MGXC #MODELBOOK #CAMEVANS #DALLASPHOTOGRAPHER⁣ ⁣ ⁣ # ...

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Instagram post 2111743361156270444_5401888555 𝙄𝙩'𝙨 𝙜𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜 +𝟭𝟬𝟬° 𝙙𝙖𝙮 !!! 𝗗𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗸 𝗽𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘄𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗿 𝗻𝗮𝗵!⁣
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𝘔𝘪𝘴𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘍𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘢!⁣
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𝙄𝙩'𝙨 𝙜𝙤𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜 +𝟭𝟬𝟬° 𝙙𝙖𝙮 !!! 𝗗𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗸 𝗽𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘄𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗿 𝗻𝗮𝗵!⁣ ⁣ 𝘔𝘪𝘴𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘍𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘢!⁣ ⁣ ⁣ BE 𝗠𝗔𝗗𝗘 𝗚𝗥𝗔𝗡𝗗⁣ MUSE + MUAH: @𝗙𝗥𝗜𝗗𝗔𝗣𝗟𝗔𝗧𝗧⁣ 📸ALCHEMIST: CAM 𝗘𝗩𝗔𝗡𝗦™⁣ #𝗕𝗢𝗢𝗞𝗔𝗦𝗛𝗢𝗢𝗧 | mgxc.co/𝗺𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗱⁣ ______________________________⁣ #MADEGRAND #MGXC #MODELBOOK #CAMEVANS #PROPHOTOGRAPHER⁣ ⁣ ⁣ # ...

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