Lighting to many is the adjective to the photographic noun, or through extension the subject of the image. It describes them, albeit subjectively, from the eye of the one that chooses to tell the story.
A couple months back, I was contacted by the fStoppers team and asked if I would be interested in creating an image, not for the sake of the image itself or my portfolio, but for the use of teaching those that want to learn how I do what I do. The only thing that stood in our way was creating an opening in a schedule for a shoot that allowed them to get the footage they needed, oh… and finding a subject of the shoot. I wanted to shoot an athlete or some aggressively inclined individual, however they had other plans and asked if I could get a car to the studio. Even I forget that I photograph cars sometimes.
A day before the shoot we met for dinner and to talk about our approach. Midway through, Lee asked my opinion on some type of light, and mistakenly I thought he was referring to light theory or even the physics of light, so I answered accordingly to the question my mind had perceived. He looked at me and in the nicest possible way told me that if I talked in the degree of detail I had just answered in, no one would watch the video.
The next day we all arrived early at Loft 19 to prepare the Chimera light bank and get ready for the arrival of the car. The fStoppers had a team of three, two to film and one to scream at me if I was rambling too much. An average exchange would go along the lines of.
Lee: Can you tell us why you put that light there?
Blair: I put the light there because if we had any higher angle of attack, there would be speculars at the focal plane and unless we diffused, but that would kill line.
Lee: Damn it Blair, just say you wanted to light the wheel.
In all seriousness though, the guys from fStoppers were awesome, good people. They’re mission aligns with mine in that they want to teach. Being the future of photography can be a lonely place when you have done nothing to teach the future of photography.
Pretty, isn’t she? The car is a Lamborghini Aventador. Fast, aggressive, angular, and easy to make look good. There are many different versions of the image, some have different backgrounds and floors. My heart goes to the simplicity of the car on white, but for the full lesson on how an ad is made we created this image. The background is from the hotel I was staying at for a shoot in Vegas and a floor I found on set in Indianapolis.
We wanted to show the approach that I used to research the angles of the car, a video game called Forza 4. From the interviews to the footage on set, to the comments from my retoucher, we didn’t want to hide anything from those that took the time to watch it. I don’t believe in keeping your ways secret from someone who wants to learn, it is counter-productive to the art as a whole. Why should one photographer find an advance forward, only to try and keep others behind? Some will say that it is a competition, where the victor has all the cards up his sleeve. This is wrong, and those that believe that teaching their lighting will take their work away, have an insecurity in their absolute talent. The best part of this equation is that being wrong presupposes that someday I will lose a job to someone I have helped along the way, an outcome that I will gladly welcome.
I want to conclude this by saying thank you to those that made this happen: Patrick, Lee and Jaron, you guys are a great team and professional in every sense of the word. It was an honor to work together with guys on set. Floyd, thank you for letting us use Loft 19 for this one. You have always been a catalyst behind every production I shoot in Arizona, and I have never shot in a better studio. Mike, you are the best assistant, if the world only knew how many times you have saved my ass on shoots. Rob, thank you for the car and for scaring the hell out of Patrick and Lee on their rides. Which brings me to YOU, the reader of this. Thank you for being the reason.