Dade Freeman
Photographer & Trainer


Dade Freeman's blog page for all the latest photographic news.

Honing your craft

In this business you can never have too much experience or knowledge. Being a self-employed photographer means I have to keep on my toes, ensure I know all there is to know and be able to deliver to the best of my ability. Clients' needs are always changing and it's vital I keep up with, if not ahead of, trends and requirements.

So for the past few weeks I have been attending a lighting course in order to learn about and understand studio lighting better. Each week involved a new challenge such as Hi-Key, Low-Key, Portraits. It was interesting to learn how lighting patterns work and what works best in different situations. For my final week I was inspired to try my hand at creating a Dutch still-life image. My research revealed that getting the right props for the shoot was paramount.

So began the huge challenge of finding those perfect props. Typical items found in a Dutch still-life are a skull, a timepiece, a jug, a plate - ideally 17th century in style and appearance. The simpler things such as bubbles, fruit, books and flowers were easier to appropriate in just a few days. I worked with two new friends (Jason & Kimberley), who I met on the course, and we all brought in items to help create our own unique 'masterpiece'.

Still life image with Candle

To begin with, we tackled the lighting which is always a challenge. We used a large softbox to the left of the table, a snooted light to the rear right and projected a window shadow onto the background using a third light with a gobo. We then swapped the table items in and out, trying different looks and effects until we had something we were happy with.

Still Life image with Picture

The essence of a Dutch Still Life is the fragility of life - the items themselves are very symbolic as is the placing of them, precariously balanced on an edge, for example, so it was vital we got it right. Overall, I think we did a fabulous job considering the time frame, and our combined experience. You can judge the images for yourself but below is my favourite from the evening.

Still Life image with Jug

This theme is something I will definitely revisit in the future - I will give myself more time to get the required props together, and I still have much to learn. One program I have found online, which will help you to remember your studio lighting setups, is this great APP.