Tips for 'informal portrait' lighting?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by mikemorrell, Jan 1, 2021.

  1. I'm an amateur photographer who does voluntary work for a couple of local social organizations. They work with a whole bunch of volunteers in various roles and they basically can't afford to hire a professional photographer for each and every article or Facebook post that they publish. For certain ' high profile events', I recommend that they hire a 'professional'.

    Most of the voluntary work I do is to photograph people who - in one way or another - contribute to the social wellbeing of my city. Often these are individual citizens, sometimes volunteers with the people they help and sometimes people at local institutions who help local citizens. I turn up at a scheduled interviews together with an interviewer/writer. Although I participate in the interview, my primary role is to take, select and PP photos that 1) visually draw attention to an article and 2) visually support the content of the article.

    Up until now, I've relied as far as possible on natural lighting. In PP, I've tweaked the exposure of subjects/backgrounds where necessary.

    I've hardly ever used my Canon on-camera, mostly because I don't really know how to use it effectively. Yes, I've tried TTL, diffusers, bouncing off ceiling and walls, etc. with mixed results. If I really feel I need to use my on-camera flash, my current approach is to dial in the flash settings manually and adjust to produce a 'fill flash'. My colleague (amateur) photographers use flash photography more often and I'm sometimes called to reduce the effects of their flash (highlights/shadows) in PP.

    My mobile phone is dead at the moment (not charging) so instead of catching up on BBC/NYT/CNN/Twitter, I got around to reading my library book 'Using off-camera flashes'. The book showed some great examples in which backgrounds were deliberately underexposed while subjects were deliberately - with artificial lighting - well exposed.

    I'm not so interested in the techniques (interesting though they are) but more in the day-to-day practice of photographers who - like me - work on location. One of my main concerns is that setting up a 'mobile studio' - with one or more remote remote flashes, softboxes, umbrellas, etc. -- might intimidate 'ordinary citizens' during interview photos and in post-interview photos.

    I'm interested in how many of you set up a pre-conceived 'lighting setup' for an informal non-studio interview, wedding, etc.?

    Your answers will help me decide whether it might be worth investing in some kind of 'mobile studio' for my amateur photography.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    There is a good old Kodak book available at Etsy online - Basic Lighting for Portraiture. Though I haven't seen one recently, there was also Portrait Lighting for Professionals.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  3. I'm in a similar situation. I need to make environmental portraits on location and not sure if I should use only available light or added fill flash. Thinking of shooting with a TTL Hasselblad and a D-40 flash.

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