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New photog needs light kit advice, build portfolio
Old 01-31-2006, 03:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey everybody!

I'm new to photography, and need some help picking out a good, budget light kit. I work for a local magazine, and will be shooting people for covers, editorials, advertisements, etc...basically everything (I'm their art director) but I'm stumped with what to get.

Up until now, I've supplied painted artwork and graphic design to make up for the lack of photos -- but our advertisers demand a slicker looking venue, so...

Anyway here I am, SLR in hand and ready to get started...

I work in tight quarters (10'x12' area) so a small setup is prefered. On eBay they've got $250 1250watt kits, but I'm not sure to get softboxes, umbrellas, or what...

The magazine wants pics like what you'd find in major newsstand mags like Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone's features -- that's the lighting style we're aiming at.

Along with people, I'll be shooting products for our reviews and such...

Also, i'm in a catch 22: I can't get models to work with me because I don't have a portfolio yet. I can't build a port without shooting models. What can I do?
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Re: New photog needs light kit advice, build portfolio
Old 01-31-2006, 03:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Ted, I'll take a stab and this and maybe some will correct me if Im wrong, actually Im positive they will. with the 10x12 set up I think a pair of Alien Bees B400's would be ideal. Grab one of thier softboxes and a couple of umbrellas and you should have a good start. Now as far as getting models goes, its been a slow process for me, but Im finally getting overwhelmed with Subjects to shoot. I would start out photographing family and friends to learn your lighting and posing for the best lighting situation. once you get the hang of the lighting and create some good images of your friends and family start showing those around...good work spreads like wild fire, especially if you offer free work at first. Once you have some decent images under your belt try what I did...Myspace.com has alot of people in your area that just may be willing to pose for you, provided they get the images.
Worked for me!!!

Don.


 
 
Re: New photog needs light kit advice, build portfolio
Old 01-31-2006, 04:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My shooting space is a little bigger than that, but here's my advice.

It depends on how much you have to spend. If you are on a tight budget, I buy 1 Alien Bee 800. (not in pink). With an unbrella, and a reflector. The reflector should be the kind that folds up for storage and has, white, black, silver and gold on it.

With this you can get a "fashion" look by putting the light to one side and using a reflector for fill.

Another thing you are going to need is seamless background. You can get a 9 foot wide roll of white for about $45 at the local photography store. This will make your images look much more professional than sheets hanging in the background.

And don't be afraid to shoot outside. The reflector is great for this. Look at JT's stuff, almost all of it is shot outside and has great fashion and beauty looks. You might consider going to one of his workshops as an investment in your skills.

As for finding models. If you are going to offer the cover of a magazine as a tear, you will probably have little trouble convincing models to shoot with you. Even if the magazine doesn' t have a big curculation. Heck you could probably find decent photographers who'd do the whole thing for you for the tear.

Ron

This image was shot with one light and a reflector and its sister was published in Gothic Beauty.
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Re: New photog needs light kit advice, build portfolio
Old 01-31-2006, 04:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This is the best idae for tight spaces. My studio use to be 16x20 which I though was tight. But as soon as I got one of these and got rid of wires and light stands it was plenty of rooom. Check it out.
web page Once you have this set up you will never go back. You may have to type Hi-glide in the search or if it is there, click on search.
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Re: New photog needs light kit advice, build portfolio
Old 01-31-2006, 05:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the hi-Glide suggestion, but for right now that's too steep for me. After a few shoots and assignments, definately i'm getting something like those...

Found a set on eBay (yeah, I know) for $300 but maybe I should look for a local photog's studio to use/rent/borrow?

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Re: New photog needs light kit advice, build portfolio
Old 01-31-2006, 05:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If you look around you could find a used set. There are several manufactures alos. Here is a Texas Studio Rental site. Texas Studio Rentals
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Re: New photog needs light kit advice, build portfolio
Old 01-31-2006, 09:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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With lighting you definately get what you pay for. The problem with the real cheap stuff is that it will cost you as much to replace the flash tube after a year as it will to buy a new kit. As far as modifiers, if you want to go much beyond umbrellas you need to be careful about what you buy, because you may not be able to find much to fit your lights. Specs like color consistency, shot-to-shot output accuracy, recycle times, and how hard you can use them (all day, every day?) are things that don't show up in the advertisment.

Don recommended AlienBees. They are excellent value for the money and their customer service is outstanding. There are a decent number of modifiers for them and many people never outgrow them. I don't know what your budget is, but you can get 2 lights, stands, umbrellas, and carrying cases for ~$700. Consider anything cheaper to be disposable.

Regarding modifiers, umbrellas are a good way to start. They are inexpensive, take up very little space, set up quickly, and are versatile. Once you get the lights making money for you, you may want to consider sofboxes, beauty dishes, grids, etc. Don't go buy a bunch of different modifiers all at once. Learn how to use a couple of tools first and then add to them once you decide you want/need a different effect.

Others have given you good advice on finding models, I can't add anything that hasn't been said.

-Chip
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