Lighting for Indoor location photographers

In order to become a good location photographer, you don’t really need expensive equipment.  It is actually  a matter of your style of shooting.

There are some photographers who travel light, so they basically carry no more than a good camera, an off camera flash and a tripod.  Such photographers enjoy the thrill of having to think outside the box to created great looking photographs, based on the limited lighting that they are presented with.

Other photographers prefer to be prepared with an arsenal of equipment such as extra flash/strobes, soft boxes or umbrella, modeling lights, reflectors and sometimes their own seamless paper to use as a backdrop.  These type of photographers simply like to be prepared for what ever situation they may come into contact with.

When shooting on location in an indoor setting, there are a few things to consider.  It is always a good idea to have a general idea of your location, the types of widows and which directions they are facing.  Another consideration is the type of lighting that will be available at the location.  Why worry about these things? Firstly having a general idea of window placement, you can fixate in your mind, depending on the time of day, how strong the light will be in the room that you may be using.  Knowledge of the type of lighting would give you an idea of how to set your color balance, to avoid any unwanted color tints on your clients skin or clothing.

Once you have an idea of the location and what to expect you can prepare you camera equipment for the shoot.

For location photographers who travel light with a minimum of equipment you may still want to have a checklist of items to carry, namely

1.    Camera body ( of course ) and maybe a back up
2.    Off camera flash and extra batteries
3.    A small variety of lens, wide angle and telephoto
4.    A tripod
5.    Other miscellaneous items like clips, flash trigger and gaffer tape and or some means of holding items together or on a wall

For location photographers that like to be prepared for any situation, here is a bit more equipment.

1.    Main camera body and a back up
2.    At least two off camera flashes that can be remotely triggered
3.    wireless trigger
4.    Lighting kit which includes back light, soft box or photographic umbrella
5.    Light reflector; gold, silver, white and black material
6.    Tripod
7.    Light stands
8.    Portrait stool
9.    Variety of seamless paper for backgrounds
10.   Background stands
11.   Sand Bags
12.   Photo battery pack for light
13.   An assistant.
14.    Other miscellaneous items like clips, gaffer tape, back up batteries, screw driver, pliers etc.

Before you go on location, make sure your client knows your style of shooting. If you are a light traveler and they expect a full set up, that could be a problem.  Even more so if your client expects minimal equipment and you bring lots of lights and equipment, this could make your client quite uncomfortable.

Once you are on location and ready to set up your lighting, be sure that if you have to plug in any lights or equipment , that you ask permission before doing so. Keep in mind the light that is in the room at all times taking new metering to expose your client well. If you have sufficient light coming in from a window then you can set a mood by using the available light in the room.  if the light is over bearing from a window and causing a semi silhouette of you client then you should use fill flash to properly expose your client without loosing any information in the back ground.

No matter where you are called to do a shoot keep in mind that your client is expecting to look good after all is said and done.  Use your knowledge of lighting to create flattering photos of your client.  Remember your main light whether it is light coming in from a window or an lighting fixture in the room or if none are suitable create your mail light with your off camera flash.  Remember to fill in the shadows of a strong main light, by either using a reflector or your off camera flash dialed down to a lower setting.

Lighting for location photographers indoors can mean you have to set up in your clients home, a small room, a work place, office, lunch room, library, mechanic shop any place where there is a covering and basically four walls.  Get to know you client and what they are expecting and looking for in a location photographer, and always clean up after all the work is done.

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