Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Visual borrowing

Recently I had the chance to talk with photographer Bert Stephani, based in Belgium. Bert has become something of a YouTube star, posting videos of his working methods on the video-sharing service. His father criticized him for this, complaining his son was giving away his secrets! (You can search for Bert by name on YouTube, or see his site at http://www.bertstephani.com/.)

In any case, before talking with him I needed to check out a couple of the videos. And like any working photographer, I'm always looking for ideas to "borrow" - whether from other photographers, painters, designers, or just about any other type of artist that may give me a different approach to use on the next assignment.

Bert photographs people outdoors, with a simple strobe on a stand, the background often a dark tunnel or passage that puts a splash of color or light behind his subject. That was the perfect approach today when I needed to photograph environmentalist Dan Becker in the yard of his Chevy Chase home. For an environmentalist I wanted green. The shady passage by the side of Dan's house made the ideal background. And traveling by bike (appropriate when photographing an environmentalist!), I was using a single, small strobe.
Thanks for the help on this, Bert!!

By the way, Bert's work is typical of what you could call the "light(weight) light movement" - photographers who are doing sophisticated location lighting using simple lightweight strobes. Perhaps the dean of this movement is known as The Strobist, http://strobist.blogspot.com/. It's an appealing approach for me, a photographer who often gets around by bicycle - and who recently had a bunch of equipment (including a big monolight) stolen!

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