photographer | filmmaker

SELF PORTRAITS LIT WITH AN iPAD

Added on by Vinoth Varatharajan.

MY TWO CENTS ABOUT THE CRAFT OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND LIGHTING.

When you graduate from Robert Rodriguez's 10 minute film school, you learn one thing and one thing only. You gotta squeeze every penny. Yes, even if it manages to poke a hole and run through your veins as it did with Homer. You gotta squeeze that shit! It's not because you are trying to be cheap. It's simply because you are looking for alternative options and inject the savings into the more meaningful part of storytelling. Rodriguez taught us on how to cut corners by shooting with film negatives, thus his choices to save money made sense.

Now we are in a whole new era. The digital era. The moment when an average consumer purchased a DSLR on boxing day special and transform into a GWC and start posing on Instagram with hash-tags #studiolife #lovemyvintagelensnikonf1.2  #imshootingwithoutknowinthefuckimdoingbutwhocaresineedvalidationforwhatidoinlife #lovemyfuji #lovemynikon #lovemyblablabla, the options for lighting gear also became broader [and cheaper!].

HOW DO I APPROACH LIGHT

My primary go to source of light is the sun. It's broad and it's cheap! Especially the twilight periods. A solid third of my portfolio is shot between 5 and 8 in the morning. Especially my films. 

I get lot of emails asking on how do I light or tips on lighting. My answer is simple. Analyze your light source and work around it. You will be surprised what you can achieve just with a pack of reflectors. If you lighting interior, flick on one source of light and work around it. Unless you are trying to light a glass house, lighting shouldn't be a hair pulling process. Another tip is to watch a TON of movies! Try to aim for dramas as they have the tendency to create emotions. My favorite go to source is Korean films. Dear god, those folks know how to create mood and suck you in! My good friend and photographer Khalik Allah said it best - Composition is the son. Subject is the holy spirit and Light is God! Combined together, they form the Trinity.

PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE CRAFTSMEN

It is so sad that these days the term 'photographer' is viewed in a skeptical fashion. Too many "I capture your moments" tagline. Too many gear porn addicts. Too much profile picture of covering the face while squinting an eye with the camera's brand. Too much faded vintage look with blown highlights. Too much of a number game of followers and likes. Too much Facebook comment noise. Too much Instagram pollution. Yes, I get it. You can press a button. Yes, I get it. You can apply a preset. Yes, I get it. You spray and fucking pray all day. Yes, I get it. You pose next to your lens or a vintage camera that you bought on Ebay. I get the "look at me, I'm a cool photographer, now someone please validate my life with a like or a follow". I get all your noise. But where is the signal? But where is your body of work? 

Maybe it's time for you to learn what the hell that little black box of yours does for a change? Maybe try out new lighting techniques? Maybe, just maybe, practice the craft of photography and not be distracted with the unnecessary things attached to the craft. In all other words, maybe it's time for you to finally stop performing like a photographer and actually BE ONE! Photographers are craftsmen. A good craftsman can produce a piece of art regardless the tools at his disposal. 

Photography is all about creatively shaping and molding light. Repeat it. Photography is all about light. Once more. Photography is all about light. The camera is simply a tool to express your creativity. For lack of a better term, the whole megapixel and brand wars is equal to measuring and comparing your dick size to whomever. You got one right? It functions right? Then focus on using it properly than bragging about it! Drops mic. Open Letter by Swizzy and Jay-Z starts to play.

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THE SETUP

That being said, the photos on this post are test shots for an upcoming portrait shoot. I took these in my bathroom lit with an app called Flashlight on the iPad. I was holding the iPad in various angles to play with the shadows and highlights. The camera was set to burst on timer tethered to Capture One. This is my third edit with C1 and I must say, I'm gradually moving to C1 as I find the raw conversion is much refined compared to Lightroom. In addition, tethering is heavenly! For the curious minds out there, I was having a conversation on speaker, thus the facial expressions. No, seriously I was. Seriously.