Each month we highlight a certain item in Profoto’s rich assortment of Light Shaping Tools. We have previously talked to Alex Giacomini about the Umbrella XL, Knut Koivisto about the HR Lantern, Tom Epperson about the Softlight Reflector, Joao Carlos about the Softbox 3×4’ RF, Kristoffer Lönnå about the ProRing 2 and to Chen Wei Li about the classic Zoom Reflector. Next in line are Jessica Lund and the Profoto Giant Silver.
Jessica has been in the business for 13 years. Like many other freelance photographers, she does a little bit of everything – portraits, fashion, editorials and so on. The common denominator is that most of Jessica’s assignments include people in the entertainment industry, such as musicians, actors, writers and TV presenters.
“Shooting musicians is by choice my favorite assignment,” says Jessica. “To me, musicians are everyday heroes. They put words to things we all feel and they help us understand ourselves better. To me music is pure energy and music inspires me a lot in my work as a photographer and often helps me get into a certain mood before a shoot for instance.”
What is it like shooting musicians? I guess it helps that they are used to being in center of attention?
“Well, it’s a lot easier to shoot a model. Models are obviously very good at delivering the expression you’re looking for, and they’ll more or less do whatever your ask them to. Also, the image is usually not about him or her. It’s about the clothes they’re wearing, or the make up or whatever it may be. Musicians, on the other hand, often play a role on stage. But if you were to take their portrait, you’d prefer to capture the real person behind that image, right? So you can’t just tell them what to do. You have to try to get to know them and who they are, ask them what they want to do, how they want to look, and then the two of you together can find something that is real and honest to express or reveal.”
In terms of lighting, what distinguishes your fashion assignments from a magazine cover shoot?
I have this basic set up that I almost always use. I just tweak it when necessary. And I always use a distinct light source. A couple of years ago, I experimented a lot in the studio and I used a lot more lights and more complicated set ups. But today, I just want it to be as simple and straight and honest as possible. I actually prefer it when it’s not perfect. Perfection does not impress me any more. I’d rather loose control and relax and stop caring about small details.”
This basic set up you speak of, can you describe it?
“Well, I usually have two umbrellas aiming at the background, and then the Profoto Giant Silver as my main light, in the front. Sometimes I put it right in front of the subject, sometimes a little bit to the side. The Giant Silver isn’t really about sculpturing with shadows or anything like that. That’s what I like about it.”
What do you mean?
“Everything just becomes so simple. You don’t have to experiment or fine-tune this or that. The light becomes interesting right away, the skin tones always look great, and since the light that the Giant Silver produces is so large, you get a lot more room to play around with the subject. For instance, you never have to tell them to stop with what they’re doing and move a few inches to the left. Instead, you can just forget about the light and focus on communication. You can relax and just play around. I like that.”
How did you first come into contact with the Giant Silver?
“It was my colleague who I share studio with, photographer Per Adolphson, who introduced me to it.”
Per? He was featured on our blog about a year ago. I interviewed him about his work with the Devil’s Bible for The National Library.
“Oh yes! Per did an incredibly good job with the Devils Bible. He has my greatest admiration for that!
Agree. Finally, do you have any recommendations about where to start for all those photographers who have never tried the Giant Silver?
“I’d recommend that they try out a bunch of other gear before, so that when they eventually start using the Giant Silver they can immediately appreciate how incredibly easy and fun it is to work with!”
You can find more of Jessica’s images at her website.
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