30-Day Portrait Challenge: A Shop Lamp
Day 28 of my 30-day portrait challenge.
Several years ago I went to a photography workshop that featured a multitude of talented photographer instructors. The instructor that I became most enamored with and followed around like a dog waiting for a bone was Brian DeMint of Eyeworks Photography.
DeMint is not like any other photographer I have had the pleasure to learn from. His day job was in another line of work and photography was his hobby. He used a very basic camera and a kit lens (gasp!) He created incredibly unique and stylized images that are entirely his own with the simplest of gear.
At that time, and maybe even today, he used a shop lamp to light many of his images. Yes, your basic $9 shop lamp from Wal-mart that you will find haphazardly hanging in garages the world over. Where other photographers spent a small fortune on lighting gear to produce mediocre results (I speak from personal experience), he used a humble light bulb to create photography magic.
Where other photographers spent a small fortune on lighting gear to produce mediocre results (I speak from personal experience), he used a humble light bulb to create photography magic.
I remember being amazed at the quality of his work created with such a simple tool. I’m still amazed. LIKE AMAZED. You should go look at his work so that you too can be amazed.
That workshop and what I saw there inspired me to grab a shop lamp and head into the basement to create my own simple light setup.
The Light Setup
I started off hand holding the shop lamp. Eventually, I clipped it onto a light stand and had my son move it around for me. I ended the session by placing a scrim, which is a piece of white fabric, in front of it.
I tried hand holding the lamp and moving it at different angles and distances. Sally complained that it hurt her eyes, so in most images I had her look away.
She styled herself today and looked like an extremely beguiling, bohemian, hippie. Is that redundant?
Then we added some roses. Because they were there and they were pretty.
I placed a scrim from my reflector, in front of the shop lamp to give Sally’s eyes a break and I liked the softness it added to the light.
I have given my Mom a hard time for the pictures she would make me pose for as a girl. It was usually me holding a flower or piece of fruit and gazing soulfully out a window.
I admit I am now doing the same thing. I also now understood why our dog drove her crazy and why she insisted that I go outside and play instead of staring at a TV.
- A simple method doesn’t’ mean the content will be subpar to a complex method.
- Take the extra effort to make your subject comfortable.
- Maybe I should have washed the stamp off my subject’s hand before the shoot. Or maybe not.
- My Mother was right about so many things.
I had a lot of fun with today’s session. I really enjoyed the process and the challenge of fitting the pieces together to get the light that I wanted. My kids were all so helpful and accommodating. In case you have not noticed over the past 28 days, they are my favorite subjects and I do not take for granted that they are always willing to sit for my picture taking habit.
My kids were all so helpful and accommodating. In case you have not noticed over the past 28 days, they are my favorite subjects and I do not take for granted that they are always willing to sit for my picture taking habit.
They should have plenty of fruit and flower holding childhood images to tease me about when they are adults.
Now, go experiment and create something new!