Monday, 23 September 2013

Clowning Around: Doing lighting tests with Anna Sigvardsson

Clowning around.
Photo: ©2013, Anna Sigvardsson
I owe Anna Sigvardsson a lot. She is one of the people who influenced my current career choice very strongly. Anna is a great photographer, and extraordinarily good at making people comfortable in front of the camera.


I met Anna at a mingling event a couple of years ago. As it turned out, we had some shared interests. She was a very good professional photographer, and I wanted to learn. At the time, I just wanted to take better photos. (There is a story there, but I'll save that for another blog post.) Over time we met now and then, had a cup of coffee here, ran into a mingling event there, and we always talked about photography. Always interesting conversation, and always inspiring.


My version of Evil Clown. I jumped at the opportunity to don the clown nose.
Photo: ©2013, Anna Sigvardsson
When Anna needed a model to test lighting setups in her studio, I jumped at the opportunity to get in front of her camera. I have modeled for Anna before, and it has always been loads of fun. Working with other photographers, whether you shoot with them, model, direct the shoot, or fetch coffee, also provides great opportunities to learn. I want to do it as often as possible.

There is another reason: Standing in front of a camera can be difficult. Even professional models can become uncomfortable. Standing in front of the camera helps me empathize. Empathy helps me help whoever I am photographing to relax so that we can create better photos together. Anna is a master at making people relax in front of a camera. I know no one whom I would rather learn from.

Clown front and centre. You can see the lighting setup, two softboxes to the sides, and an octabox angled downwards in the middle. As you can see, my shadow falls on the paper, but low, so that it does not show in the portraits.
Photo: ©2013, Anna Sigvardsson
For the shoot, Anna used a large silver umbrella at the front, and two large softboxes to the sides. At various points in the shoot, Anna moved the strobes slightly, or changed the power settings. The softboxes did not just light me, they also lit the brown paper behind me.

You may wonder why I wear a hat, sunglasses, and a clown nose. It is because the tiara I tried first did not fit. Just standing there in a black t-shirt would not have been very fun, so we dived into Anna's stash of props to spiff me up a bit.

Anna looks good in photos no matter what you do, so shooting her was easy.
I know only two photographers who can shoot me and make me look good. Anna is one of them. On the other hand, Anna looks good no matter what. Her favorite camera is a Canon 5D Mk III, which is what was used for all these shots.

Me the way I usually look.
Photo: ©2013, Anna Sigvardsson
You might wonder if Anna took any photos of me looking more like, well, me. She did. The one above is my favorite.

We had a wonderful afternoon, geeking out with lighting and photography. If you are serious about photography, I strongly recommend practicing and experimenting with friends who share your interests. Great fun, and you will learn a lot.

A couple of days later, Anna and her boyfriend David invited me to a housewarming party in their new apartment. On my way there I saw this elephant… But that is another shoot, and another story.