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'.
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.
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.
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.