It’s all lights and makeup

That’s what I tell people when they are occasionally shocked by some of my creative images of gruesome subjects. And that is actually one of the aspects of photography that is the most fun: How important light is for the final image. To move a lamp or turn it off can change the message of a picture more than all the finishing in the world and is occasionally exactly what decides whether the image is dull or exciting to see. Even I forget it sometimes – just move the light. So it is only when shooting is going too quickly for all the lamps to keep up, and one of them cannot be recharged in time, that I am reminded of it. I have many examples of excellent pictures in my archive, which were actually only good because one lamp was left out.

But let us take the picture below for example. Created to be fun, and generally a good example of a studio picture that could have been taken with virtually any camera. At 24mm, f8 and ISO 100, even the simplest mobile phone can keep up provided there is sufficient  light.


Evenly lit with a neutral background – particularly dull for a portrait, but a classic setup for a stock photo.

Let’s turn off 2 of the 3 lamps in use now:

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Exactly the same setup (as exact as the model can keep his expression) but undeniably a completely different picture with a completely different atmosphere and story (I leave the story to you). In my opinion a much more exciting, photograph and story, but also clearly with much more concentrated applications as a stock photo. Let’s continue the experiment and subject the last picture to 10 seconds of finishing, so that it becomes black and white with a slight sepia tone:


No longer a classic neutral stock photo, but a low key image that most of all resembles a split second in a movie. Just by switching off two lamps. Good for creativity and probably also good for the environment 😉

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