Jill Greenberg lighting setup and lighting diagram

David Bicho’s tribute to Jill Greenberg, using her characteristic lighting setup.
Lighting diagram explaining the Jill Greenberg lighting setup

This image is a pure tribute to the classic crying-images by Jill Greenberg. This is really showing the crisp and contrasty light of the beloved Profoto Giant (the huge umbrella). From the back, I use two strip lights and a hair light on a boom stand to create a “kicker” all around her silhouette. One gridded light on the black background (turns blue when white balancing to get nice skin tones). Just below the model there is a squared silver reflector (I hate round ones!) to give the classic extra lower clam-shellish-spark to the eye to give some feeling of “wet eyes”… To eliminate all unwanted indirect lightning, I used big black book ends to really push the contrast by lowering the levels in the shadows.

Visit photographer David Bicho for more great inspiration.

Photographer David Bicho

David Bicho in a jungle of light stands

Meet professional photographer David Bicho, who will give you some very inspiring lighting setups. The best way to get to know David and his photographic style is to take a look at his impressive portfolio and of course read the interview.

David, where are you from?

– “Born and raised in Orminge, Stockholm, Sweden.

How old are you?

– “38”

How long have you been into photography?

– “That’s actually a tricky question to answer since I started out making film/TV-productions when I was 15 at a local television station in Orminge. I lived and breathed the studio environment, lightning, productions for many years and moved on to different production companies and have worked for most swedish tv-stations as a photographer/editor/lightning-guy. But I didn’t do any serious still photography back then. Just moving pictures. Not until the digital system cameras was a serious alternative to analogue, in like… 2004?… I jumped on the train and bought one of the first swedish exemplars of Nikon D70 and a 50/1.8. I was totally blown away by how easy it was to get great quality without all the heavy, technical fuzz that comes when you deal with moving images. I started almost immediately to make money on business portraits – not because I was a particulary good photographer, but because I had ALOT of confidence and really thought I knew how to do it . I literally had to threw everything I knew about lighting, and start from square one again. I read everything I could come over and experimented like a maniac to get the light I saw from “the real photographers”.

What is your dream assignment?

– “When I make my editorial fashion and such, I have a very film-production-like workflow and like to work with story boards and some kind of a underlying story that puts the models in an acting position instead of just doing some nifty posing. I have some own really interesting stories all planned and ready to go as soon as I find the perfect locations. It would be my dream assignment to be able to use these stories the way they are intended.”

Who is your favorite photographer?

– “Oh – I have different favorite photographers in different areas of photography. But Erwin Olaf is the single photographer that made most impact on me with his arty project Separation. When it comes to great lightning, there is of course the golden pair of Stevens – Steven Meisel and Steven Klein. And we have a lot of great Swedish photographers with an extremely well developed feeling for esthetics and quality like Peter Gherke, Camilla Åkrans, Jimmy Backius, Denise Grünstein, Andreas Kock… They all inspire me in different ways.”

What is the most common beginners misstakes when it comes to lighting?

– “They pay all attention to the light – not the shadows.”

What is your favorite lighting setup?

– “Hm. I never do a lightning twice, since I always try to “motivate” the light by binding it with the environment/background. So my favorite lightning would only be an applicable term when the background is the same – wich is the case infront of a white studio wall… Then it’s one single light from either the Profoto Giant 180 reflector or Broncolor’s big Para. Both give a crazy-beautyful wide light with tons of 3D-pop and contrast. Fail-proof and very, very beautiful.”

What is your worst photo experience?

– “A couple of years ago I went to shoot some business portraiture on a company quite far away, and I forgot to bring the fabrics for my soft boxes (and the light was strictly set in advance from an ad-company since the images should look the same as some old ones. Very, very softboxish.). I had only minutes to rig everything before I had to shoot when I discovered that I didnt have any soft box fabrics. Panic! I solved it quick by using some huge paper sheets I found to bounce on to get the softness I needed, so everything turn out fine. But the first seconds when I realized my mistake gave me a very, very cold shiver and probably a silent DAMN!-whispering sound throught my teeths.”

Thanks, David!


Product lighting setup for everyone

Impressive product photography using a minimum lighting setup.

As you can see in the lighting diagram, all you need is a flashlight for this lighting setup

This is a clever lighting method for product photography that doesn’t require much lighting equipment. A flashlight and a tripod. So it doesn’t matter if you are a professional photographer or a complete beginner, everyone can try this fantastic lighting setup. Use a 20-30 seconds shutter and then use the flashlight to paint the light on your object. Magnus Svensson definitely  masters this lighting technique as you can see above.

Glamour lighting with Helene Wiklund

Lusciuos glamour model Helene Wiklund from Sweden

Glamour lighting diagram

If you are into glamour photography and have already tried the golden umbrella thing and similar lighting setups, you can find new inspiration from Magnus Svensson here. The keylight is a large octabox, and then you kick some light from the smaller softboxes at both sides in the background. This gives you a glamour lighting with a slight touch of beauty lighting!

Fashion lighting setup on location

First class fashion photography doesn't necessarily require tons of lighting equipment.

Lighting diagram for fashion photography

This is a lighting setup for fashion photography on location. Using only sunlight and a reflector you can achieve amazing photos . We will soon publish more photos, lighting setups and lighting diagrams from Magnus Svensson. In the meanwhile, check out his portfolio at Maz Studios

Photographer Magnus Svensson of MAZ Studios

Awesome photographer Magnus Svensson gives you some awesome lighting setups!

Get to know Magnus Svensson, contributing photographer. You can see his work in the upcoming post here and you can see even more of his work if you follow the links in this interview.

Where are you from?

– “I’m from Karlstad, Sweden. But I recently got a new studio in Stockholm so I probably move there pretty soon.”

How old are you?

– “I am 35 years old”

Any homepages we should take a look at?

– “Yeah, www.mazstudios.com is the main site. I also have a blog. That is in swedish though, sorry to say. Been thinking about making it all international. We’ll see :-)”

How long have you been into photography?

– “Actually I haven’t been into the photography part that long. I started my company 2006, but I worked with retouch for about 10-11 years. And that’s how I got in contact with the world of photos.”

What is your area of expertise?

– “I have always been influenced by the more edgy stuff, fetish and other art that is not well known for the regular people. So, when I take on any mission this is what I like to introduce in whatever genre I take on. My main areas is fashion and advertisement. But I have done some glamour before and it’s a cool and fun style. Not that much money though in that. But the fashion is what I have the passion for. To me, a well shot editorial is like a work of art. It just blows me away. So, I like to take the fashion and make it “Maz style” sort of speak  :-)”

What is your dream assignment?

– “The big magazines like Vogue and similar. I have recently done jobs for Elle, UNA (Hong Kong), Harper’s bazaar, so that’s cool. I love the international assignments.”

Who is your favorite photographer?

– “David Lachapelle is truly one of my biggest inspirations. Even though it might not show in my work he has always been someone I looked up to. There is of course a lot more but that one is probably the most important.”

What are the most common beginner’s mistakes when it comes to lighting?

– “Learn to walk before you run! You don’t need 5 pro photo flashes the first thing you do. Start with one. Even today, I still love to use just one. Simple, yet power full.”

What is your favorite lighting setup?

– “Hard to say, but I have always loved the result of the ring flash. I think you either hates it, or loves it. I, for one, loves the shit out of it.”

What is your worst photo experience?

– “I like photography and everything around it. So its not like I’m only into commercial or fashion. I like to try out new stuff. So for a season I worked as a school photographer. You know, shooting the photos for classes. So, one time I worked on a kindergarten. And a few tips I got before the job was to let the parents leave and don’t let the kids start to cry ha ha. So, I failed this miserably of course. I forgot about the parents so they stayed. And it was devastating. On one side we had the parents yelling on the kids “c’mon, smile, like you did this morning. C’mon, you are ruining everything kiddo” And on the other side, the teachers saying the same thing, and of course blaming me for the slow pace. Everything was of course my fault ha ha. So, that was a long, long day. Never did that again after that. They say kids and animals are the worst things to shoot. I agree 🙂 But I take the animals every day of the week over those brats!”

Clam shell lighting setup for beauty shots

Beauty shots using the clam shell lighting setup.

Clam shell lighting diagram. Please notice that the softbox and reflector are NOT vertical as the lighting diagram insinuates.

Beauty lighting setups does not have to be difficult. You can easily get professional looking beauty shots using the clam shell lighting setup.

It’s called clam shell simply because you rig two softboxes as a giant gaping clam shell. It’s hard to see in the lighting diagram because of the levitated view. It would have been better illustrated if the lighting diagram was viewed from the side. Anyway, I think you get the idea.

A common setup is to build you’re clam shell with a larger upper softbox and then a lower smaller stripbox. The upper softbox is about one stop higher than the stripbox. Using two softboxes gives you good control of the light.

Simplified clam shell lighting setup

This specific clamshell lighting is simplified a bit. I used one big softbox from above and then a big horizontal silver reflector underneath. This gives you a little less control of the light, compared to using two softboxes, but the setup is about what you want anyway. The softbox will automatically give more light than the silver reflector. You can vary the distance between the soft box and the rector to control the light a bit. You can also try with a white reflector to find a lighting setup that you like.

Lighting setup using natural light and silver reflector

This is a photo portrait of the swedish professional dancer Karl Dyall. The lighting setup is very simple. The model is standing next to a big window which is about 4 feet from him on the right hand side. On the left hand side stands a silver reflector about 2 feet away. It was cloudy that day, so the light is very soft.  As many of you know is the Canon EF 50/1.8 II bokeh a bit stressful, so the warm light in the background is not as smooth as I would like it.

Natural light photography

When you practice natural light photography, keep in mind that the constant light from a silver reflector can be annoying for the model if the light is too intense. It makes it difficult for the model to keep a certain facial expression, and the whole workflow for the session will be affected.

If the light from the window would have been more intense that day, or if it had been an outdoor session a sunny day, I would probably have used a white reflector instead of a silver reflector.

Portrait lighting diagram with natural light and reflector