3 Ways to Photograph with Purposeful Lighting in the Photo Studio

March 20, 2019

By Yannis Guibinga

All Photos © Yannis Guibinga

Filtering In

This was one of my first studio shoots, done last January, which I titled “Lucid Dreams.” I really wanted to explore and experiment with different lighting techniques for this particular portrait session, to further incorporate colors in ways I had not before. Using colored filters on studio strobe lights is a lighting technique that is commonly used by photographers to add colors to an image in a more interesting way, sometimes changing the atmosphere and overall mood of the image.

After trying out a few different combinations of colors for the background and the model, I ended up placing two different strobes on opposite sides of him with a different filter on each. The red filter on one side and the yellow filter on the other created a very compelling color combination, especially coupled with the model’s light brown hair and facial hair. Initially a white backdrop, the beautiful gradients of orange and yellow in the background were created by the combination of the flashes in front of the model, which resulted in this color boldly contrasting with the red on the model’s face and beard. 

Camera: Canon 6D
Lens: 50mm
Exposure: f/6.3 at 1/80 sec.
ISO: 100
Lighting: White Lightning X1600 flashes

Acting Out

My most recent body of work, titled “The Grief,” explores what happens after death and, more specifically, how one deals with the passing of a loved one. This universal experience is illustrated in the series through seven different stages from which the protagonist goes through to deal with her grief. This photo is from the first stage: shock, the initial paralysis upon hearing the bad news. I was inspired visually by biblical paintings, and I wanted the images from the series to have this timeless and almost religious atmosphere.

It was really important to show as much details on the models as possible without compromising the quality of the lighting, which is why I limited it for the shot to only one flash. The flash was placed on the left at an approximate 45-degree angle in order to illuminate the faces of the subjects, the most important part of the image, in the best way possible. Because the right side of the image, where the hand of one subject is placed on the other’s body, became too dark, I added a reflector on the right of the camera to add a little more detail to this side and to even out the light in the photograph overall. 

Camera: Canon 6D
Lens: 39mm
Exposure: f/6.3 at 1/125 sec.
ISO: 100 
Lighting: NEEWER DS300 strobe, reflector

Playing Up

I had a portrait session with fashion designer Elise Deladem, during which I experimented with different lighting and backgrounds. One of the first set of photos we did was a color story around blue. I wanted for her to seamlessly blend into the background while simultaneously contrast strongly against it with her brown skin, blond hair and yellow earrings.

The lighting setup for this photo was fairly simple, as the focus was more on the color than it was on the kind of light on the image. In order to make sure that the lighting would complement the colors in the image, I limited myself to one light source: a beauty dish, as opposed to a softbox. In my experience, a beauty dish is able to soften the light while still conserving its strong contrast, while the light created with a softbox can be too soft for the kinds of colors that I wanted to have in my images. There was no specific light for the background because I wanted to see the gradient that the light from the flash would create on the blue background, which can be seen especially toward the bottom of the image. The flash was placed at a 45-degree angle from Elise to complement her profile, and I placed a reflector on the other side of the camera to bring back detail in the darkest part of the image.

Camera: Canon 6D
Lens: 105mm
Exposure:f/9 at 1/125 sec.
Lighting: White Lightning X1600 flash, beauty dish, reflector

Yannis Guibinga is a 23-year-old portrait photographer from Libreville, Gabon, on the coast of Central Africa, who’s now based in Montreal, Canada. He explores the diversity of cultures among a new generation of Africans who are embracing their many identities spawned in part by globalization.

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