Hong Kong based wedding photographer Muse Chan travels the world with his Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash, and many Profoto light-shaping tools. In Part II of the story, he tells us more about how he works and how he shot mystically beautiful images on location in Iceland—and coped with unexpected setbacks.
Iceland, which is becoming an increasingly popular travel destination, provides spectacular settings for photography, which is why Muse Chan has chosen it for several pre-wedding photo shoots.
“I find Iceland mysterious,” Muse says. “Its terrain and spectacular nature resembles a newborn earth. Iceland does not have dense human constructions, enabling people to enjoy the very heart of nature.”
Most of the time, Muse picks his locations on the day of the shoot, without researching them first. That’s easier to do in Iceland than in most places, as there are many beautiful locations along the ring road. “Some locations I found online only after I arrived in Iceland, then I just drove there,” he explains. “The weather in Iceland is unusually changeable, so I had to decide the exact shoot location based on the weather of the day.”
Improvising on site was key
Muse’s original plan was to do pre-wedding shooting for two couples. Unfortunately, one couple had to cancel the trip two weeks before the scheduled date. “Since I had already planned the shootings and had images in my mind, I invited a Taiwan model to join the trip so I could continue with my personal work.”
Without a large team to help him realize all his creative ideas and styling, therefore, Muse plans most things himself. “I tend not to ‘define a detail image’ in advance. I probably have 50% of the image in my mind, and leave the rest to improvising on site. I would scout the location, observe, think, and make changes. Anyway, I enjoy being hands-on.”
Profoto B1: Peace of mind
One of the biggest lighting challenges was setting up lights on the glacier, where the Profoto B1’s portability and convenience were a big help. “You cannot walk for more than a few seconds barefoot in the freezing water,” Muse says. “My team mates managed to set up lights in the water and lit up my images perfectly. The Profoto B1 stands out among all monolight flashes in its convenience.”
Muse says that in addition to convenience, he loves the B1’s beautiful light quality and durability. “It is almost impossible for me to take good care of every single piece of equipment during these trips, by air and by car. But the Profoto B1 consistently delivers high performance, and the batteries are reliable as well. The B1 brings me peace of mind during the shoots.
“We came to Iceland with the same goal”
Muse’s favorite image is one with his model standing in the middle of a glacier lake. Convincing a model to pose in freezing water might seem like a challenge, but fortunately, she and Muse shared the same philosophy and dream “We have cooperated twice before,” Muse says. We trust and have confidence in each other. We came to Iceland with the same goal: to create great images.”
For that photo, the hard part turned out to be finding enough ice in August. “In summer, the amount of ice at the glacier varies day to day,” he says. “The third time we travelled to the glacier, we finally saw sufficient amount of floating ice.”
B1 to the rescue
Looking back, he says one of the most spectacular memories from shooting on Iceland was yet another problem with his car, and the unexpected supporting role played by the Profoto B1. “Just after midnight, and in the middle of nowhere, our car wheels got stuck in a patch of soft ground,” he recalls. “We had had a long day and had been driving for hours. Everyone was exhausted, and the temperature outside was freezing. We tried many ways to get the wheels out.
In a final case of improvisation, the team wound up using the B1’s modeling light to light up the ground so they could see well enough to remove the dirt that was in the way and get going again.
“We finally managed to pull the car out shortly after 2 a.m. I still remember it vividly.”
About the photographer
Muse Chan, the founder of Muse Muse Photography, has truly made a name for himself in wedding photography. After working as an Art Director with multimedia design, advertising and portrait photography for well over 13 years, he started his own business in 2006. Besides working as full time photographer he holds workshops all around the world.
Wedding photgrapher Muse Chan does not use a standard setup. For the Iceland shoots, where he faced varied terrain and lighting conditions, he brought a large number of Profoto light-shaping tools so he could improvise based on the scenery and weather he found at different locations. These included:
- Profoto B1
- Magnum reflector
- WideZoom reflector
- TeleZoom reflector
- Deep Silver XL umbrella
- HR Lantern 1.7’ FLAT
- SunSilver/White collapsible reflector