Jana discovers that she can maintain her soft and dreamlike style even under harsh Californian sun, with the Profoto B10.
Alabama born Jana Williams uses words like timeless, classic and romantic to describe her shooting style, "With a touch of Vogue." Now based in Hollywood, California she brings all of those qualities and more to luxury wedding photography.
A voyage of discovery
Entirely self-taught Jana remembers being fascinated with the vintage cameras she would collect in her apartment. " I always had a desire to go out there and do something creative; reading a book called "The Artist's Way", by Julia Cameron, inspired me to pick up a camera and do something about it."
As she developed her style, Jana would shoot anything and everything, and eventually, she realized that people were her passion. She began shooting headshots for Ford Models until entirely by chance a friend asked her to shoot a wedding - Jana's never looked back.
Elevating the wedding image
Today Jana shoots weddings all over the world, and for her session with the Profoto B10, she decided to stay close to home in more ways than one. "Weddings are what I do, so I wanted to create a sort of elevated wedding vibe, something romantic and ethereal yet with a crisp fashion magazine edge." The location Jana chose was a short drive from her Hollywood home in the big open spaces of Malibu State Park. There she had the combination of big sky, nearby mountains and golden fields that stretch as far as the eye can see.
For the first images, the sun was high and bright overhead, so she positioned the Profoto B10 high and to the right of the model, with an OCF Softbox 2 Octa to create a fill light that would remove the dramatic shadows cast by the sun.
"I was aiming for something you would see in Vogue or Harper's Bazaar. I like the sense of mystery; what is she doing alone in this wedding dress in the middle of nowhere? And I love the movement in the fabric and how the mountains in the background suggest strength."
Not surprisingly, with the sun so high in the sky it was oppressively hot on location, and Jana appreciated the lightweight quality of the B10. "It was just so easy to bring and set up."
Detail and softness
At the same location, Jana wanted to move closer to the model to create a portrait. "We had such a beautiful dress, and I wanted to bring out the intricate details in the fabric yet maintain a dreamy softness in her face, so I used the B10 again with the OCF Softbox 2 Octa high and to the right of the model - about three feet away - this eliminated the shadows.
In addition, to further maintain detail and at the same time keep the image soft and beautiful I also shot in HSS with a wide-open aperture, around 1.8 to 2.0."
For the next image, Jana's idea was to create a romantic story with motion. "I imagined her running away across the field, looking over her shoulder towards the one she loves."
Jana placed the B10 on a stand with the OCF Softbox 2 Octa. The sun was low in the background acting as a kicker or a rim light, so the B10 would provide fill and a soft spread of light to bring a sort of fairytale feeling to the image.
"I was pleased that we managed to capture the romantic quality I was looking for; but if you were watching, the scene must have looked quite comical; with the model running across the field, me chasing after her with my camera, and my assistant running after me holding the B10 above my head to overpower the sun."
The story is in the details
For the final image, Jana wanted to continue with the storytelling theme.
"I liked that the model in the chair had dirty feet, it makes the viewer imagine that she is on a journey of some sort. Those tiny details that make the viewer ask a question, and then imagine what the answer might be, really help people to engage with an image."
This time, because the sun had fallen low behind the mountains, Jana elected to shoot with two Profoto B10's. The first acted as a key light, along with the OCF Softbox 2 Octa close by and slightly above Jana's shooting position to create a soft fill. Jana placed the second B10 to the model's right with an OCF Magnum Reflector to imitate the sun and provide a pleasing backlight.
"Like all the images from the day's shoot, I shoot the final image in TTL. Being a wedding photographer, I often get just a fleeting moment to capture the perfect image and having the luxury of TTL means can act and think fast without needing to worry about playing around with the exposure."
How the B10 suits Jana’s style
Jana felt that the Profoto B10 complimented her style perfectly. As well as being lightweight, yet powerful enough to overpower the sun - the B10 helps Jana create the ethereal, dreamlike quality that she's so well known for.
"The B10 opens up so many possibilities for me. For example, I backlight a lot for that dreamy effect, Using the B10 off-camera means I don't blow out the background - I can keep that sense of place yet always have soft and beautiful light on whoever I'm shooting. And because it's so light and easy to use, my focus is right where it should be - on my subject and the story I'm telling."