For Swedish fashion and beauty photographer Camilla Åkrans, the shoot with the Profoto Pro-11 was an opportunity to celebrate their shared Scandinavian heritage.
Camilla chose to explore Swedish tradition, and to try to bring it to life in more of an abstract, interpretive way. To find a new and different approach to the mood and feeling of events like Midsummer, Swedish folklore, and traditions like Lucia.
And the first image indeed took inspiration from the winter tradition celebrated every year on the 13th December, called Santa Lucia. Though not an official holiday, it's an important day on the calendar and is celebrated with events, songs, and parades.
Bringing the light
"I didn't want to be too literal in my interpretation of Lucia, and while I did embrace the white dress and the red ribbons, I mostly wanted to make light the hero of the shot; after all, Lucia brings the light."
Camilla's approach is to make the light feel as natural as possible, so her studio lighting set-ups tend to be relatively straightforward. "In nature, there is only one light source, and we took the same approach here with the Profoto Pro-11 and a single ProHead Plus with a Zoom Reflector to the right of the model."
"It's important we have enough power to freeze the image. And we have a lot of elements to capture, the model jumping, the flowing fabric of her dress, the ribbons, and the wind machine blowing her hair. Profoto in general, and especially the Pro-11 delivers the speed I need to capture the image perfectly time after time."
For the next image, Camilla wanted to turn her attention to the traditional Swedish Midsummer, where it is customary to pick seven different flowers to place under your pillow to dream of your future spouse to be. "I wanted to give it a modern twist; that's why I put the flowers on top of the pillow."
And again, this plays into something we see time after time in Camilla's work. "I always feel, if you bring something organic, like flowers or any natural element, it feels like the image can breathe - like it's just come to life."
Here Camilla placed the model on a bed with the flowers, and behind her was a frosted window on the other side of which was the light source. Again, she chose to use a single ProHead Plus UV 250W with a Zoom reflector powered by a single Pro-11. "I wanted it to feel like early morning, or the late, late evening light you get in the Swedish Midsummer."
"I'm very organic in the way I shoot. I never use a tripod, I move a lot, and I never shoot directly into the computer. I shoot in an analog way because it's essential that we focus on what's happening in the now. It's important to stay in the moment rather than constantly breaking the flow to review images on the computer screen."
For her next image, Camilla wanted to create the warm light that represents the late summer and, while not strictly a tradition, the way picking strawberries has become a symbol of Swedish summertime.
"Here, we moved the Pro-11 and the ProHead Plus outside of the studio into the chill of the December Stockholm day, firing light back into the studio through the window. On the ProHead Plus, I used the Profoto Magnum reflector because that really does give the feeling of sunlight."
And it was while lighting this image where the connectivity between the Profoto App and the Pro-11 paid off. Especially for Robin, Camilla's assistant, he could remain inside the studio and adjust the power from his smartphone instead of having to run out into the cold to adjust it directly on the Pro-11.
Midsummer mood, take two
Picking flowers is very much a part of a typical Swedish summer, whether to place under your pillow as we've already explored, or to make a crown of flowers. So here, Camilla wanted to capture a feeling of peace and beauty while out daydreaming amongst the flowers in nature.
Again, Camilla used a single light source to the right of the model. The Profoto ProHead Plus with Profoto Zoom reflector powered by the Pro-11.
Being open to change
The image was all set to be inspired by a traditional Swedish artwork with the model's face surrounded by a ring of flowers, but things didn't go as expected.
This time Camilla used Twin ProHead Plus Heads with a Profoto Magnum Reflector powered by a single Pro-11; and the light source was placed to the left of the model.
"Again, this image came about because of the way I like to move around as I shoot; my organic approach. As I was moving around with the camera, I was surprised by the double reflection I could see when I moved to the other side of her. It was a special moment and transformed the image I thought I would capture - into something else entirely."
Letting it flow
Camilla was impressed by the sheer power of the Profoto Pro-11. But more than that, it was the fact that she could trust it to fire time after time no matter what she demanded of it. And that allowed her to make the most of her organic shooting style.
"When you are shooting, everyone's switched on, and you start to get into a nice flow. So there's nothing worse on set than the 'mood kill' that happens when your equipment doesn't work - It's annoying. So for me, it's super crucial that you can rely on the flash and all the equipment, and that's why I love Profoto because it's user friendly, it's durable, you can find it all over the world - it never lets you down."