‘Street Fashion’ and ‘Urban Portraits’ ~ differencies explained

Jan 31, 2009 | Flash | 4 comments

Lit with the Broncolor Mobil kit. A big wallop of flash is need to compete with the sun.

Lit with the Broncolor Mobil kit. A big wallop of flash is need to compete with the sun.

‘Street Fashion’ is a new take on the ‘Urban Portraits’ theme that I established back in 2006. The Urban Portrait genre has evolved to become a travel light shoot system that utilises… natural light and off camera flash from Speedlights. All the kit you need for this kind of photography can be carried easily over quite a distance and the Speedlight stand can be rigged as required in a near instant. The pictures created during an urban portraits session can range from the natural look to the striking but obviously lit look. The shoot rate is fast and in one 2 hour session with my clients I can produce enough images for a 20 page album, typically 45 prints at £45 plus the album.

An umbrella on the Mobil head gives this image the control needed to make it an outstanding print.

An umbrella on the Mobil head to the right of shot gives this image the control needed to make it an outstanding print.

The problem:

The one drawback with the Speedlight approach to lighting is that the light source is small and creates hard shadows. When zoomed in, Speedlights have no problem coping with any amount of ambient light for most portrait applications out in daylight, once you introduce a soft box, Sunbounce reflector or umbrella, the light output softens, spreads in all directions, and diminishes in quantity at an alarming rate. On bright days in the street a Speedlight with a modifier just can’t cope.

The solution:

Big battery powered portable flash units are the answer. They typically produce 25 times the light output of a Speedlight. That might sound over the top but when you start to use light modifiers this power advantage gets utilised straight away. Lighting people and clothing with soft but directional light is the norm in the fashion industry and we can easily apply the same techniques for our portrait clients.

The real difference with ‘Street Fashion’ shooting is that a few more minutes of set up time is needed for each shot and you also need an assistant to carry the lighting kit. If you have a make up artist / hair stylist with you at the shoot they can work their magic while you set up the lighting. All these factors lend themselves to better control and a higher quality of picture. In a 3 hour ‘Street Fashion’ shoot I can produce about 15 pictures. These pictures have a far higher value than the ‘Urban Portrait’ set as they further encroach on ‘fine art’ they also lend themselves more easily to larger print sizes and wall display products.

If you want to get your location portraiture up to editorial standard and master the lighting techniques needed with manually controlled big flash systems then the ‘Street Fashion’ workshop is right for you. It’s a full on lighting masterclass that utilises all the tools in the box. We will use Speedlights on stands remotely triggered with TTL infra red units plus Broncolor mobil kits with soft boxes, Umbrellas and Fresnel spot attachments, triggered with Pocket Wizards. All this kit will be on hand to suppliment the natural light we find on the streets of Manchester. There will be times when less is more and there are going to be times when we really want to make a statement.

A combination of the Mobil kit and a Speedlight was needed for this picture. When you need to light a whole wood, quite a bit of power is needed.

A combination of the Mobil kit and a Speedlight was needed for this picture of my daughter. When you need to light a whole wood, quite a bit of power is required. This picture would have been further enhanced if the key light was from another Mobil head with a softbox attached.

Delegates on these workshops can expect to shoot a set of images that raise the quality bar of their location portraiture to new heights. They will also learn the necessary technical skills required to make the real world a studio with an infinite choice of backdrops. Exciting stuff indeed.

More details can be found here.

4 Comments

  1. damien

    Hi Nick, Thanks for your kind words and for booking a workshop. You won’t be disappointed.

    Willie, I’ll be back!

    Damien.

    Reply
  2. Willie

    Great summary of the difference between the two ideas.
    Love the work you do.

    WOuld love to see you back in Australia soon – I missed the last visit.

    Regards.
    WF

    Reply
  3. Nick

    Good post Damien, I remember asking you this question at SWPP after your great talk about your work.

    I am very interested in both of these, but decided to book the urban portraits first as the date was good for me and its something I will use a lot. However I am hoping to be on a fashion course later this year if you have some good dates.

    Nick

    Reply
  4. Michael Hejtmanek

    Spectacular overview of the benefits of more light and more power when location shooting. Thanks.

    Reply

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