Wedding photographer Vanessa Joy has switched from shooting with natural light and speed lights to the more powerful and versatile Profoto B1. Here are her thoughts on how her new equipment has affected her imagery and business.
Wedding photographer Vanessa Joy grew up around photography. Her Mom, Marji Scavone, was a wedding and portrait photographer, so cameras and shop talk were an integral part of the family story line. But it wasn’t until she entered high school that she fell in love with the art and craft of taking pictures.
She soon began assisting her photo instructor, a “weekend warrior wedding photographer”. In addition to schlepping bags, Vanessa was often put onto the front lines shooting second camera, where she quickly learned how to make do with whatever lighting gear the boss wasn’t using at the moment.
Looking back, these lessons in ‘making do’ were the seedlings for her signature-style reputation as an excellent natural light wedding photographer.
About fifteen years and a couple of college degrees later, Vanessa Joy finds herself, along with her filmmaker husband Rob Adams, co-partners in a thriving wedding photography business. Though recognized – and often hired specifically because of her natural light imaging style, Vanessa knows better than entering a wedding hall without back-up lighting. “When somebody hires you, they expect you to show up better equipped than their guests”.
For the longest time, Vanessa Joy’s lighting system consisted of a slew of Speedlites, batteries, cables, and radio slaves along with a few reflectors. The problem was that shooting in bright outdoor settings, which was often the case, there were often communication issues between the cameras, transmitters, and lights, and there’s a limit to how many times you can ‘take five’ at a wedding to trouble-shoot your gear. Add the frequent triple-digit heat/humidity indexes common to summer in New Jersey, and equipment failure becomes more than an ‘inconvenience’.
The bottom line for Vanessa Joy was that while her off-camera Speedlite system did what she needed it to do, when shooting outdoors the sun was still calling the shots leaving her Speedlites to mostly fill in the blanks. And then she heard about Profoto’s new B1 off-camera flash. She tried it. She hasn’t looked back.
By Vanessa’s account, she was pretty much blown away by how easy it was to seamlessly integrate up to 500Ws of flash power with full TTL wireless communication with her Canon EOS system at distances of up to 330′, or 1000′ in non-TTL mode.
Using the optional Profoto Air Remote TTL-C, Vanessa can control the flash output of each of the flash units over a 9-stop range with flash durations of 1/1000th-second to 1/11,000th-second in normal mode, and as quick as 1/19,000th-second in high-speed sync mode. In a nutshell, when shooting with the B1, the sun no longer sets the rules, Vanessa does.
Unlike hot-burning tungsten modeling lamps, the B1 uses a 70W-equivalent LED modeling lamp that burns cool and requires less battery power compared to tungsten modeling lamps. Depending on the power settings, recycling times average 0.1 to 1.9-seconds, and when called for, the B1 can bang out a burst of 20 flashes-per-second in Quick Mode. Each head is fan-cooled, features a built-in 77-degree reflector, and is totally compatible with the entire line of Light Shaping Tools.
The lithium-ion battery in the B1 enables Vanessa about 220 full-power flashes, and it can be full-recharged in as little as 2-hours with the 2.4A charger that comes with the flash, or in about an hour when using the optional 4.5A Quick Charger.
With the B1, Vanessa no longer finds herself ‘putting out fires. Instead, she finds herself delving deeper into her creative side by finding new ways to exploit the abilities of her B1.
Off-camera flash is a must in wedding photography if you expect to satisfy the expectations of clients who are paying for professional results. And there are never second chances. You either ‘got it’ or you didn’t get it. For Vanessa Joy, the B1 500 AirTTL has been a godsend. She no longer has to juggle umpteen sets of Speedlights, batteries, and chargers. With two B1 500 AirTTL flash units she can shoot the entire game plan regardless of the quality and/or intensity of the ambient light.
For the first time in her career Vanessa Joy finds herself totally in control of the light, which for a natural light wedding photographer is about as heady as it gets. Instead of sweating the details – literally and figuratively, she now focus’s her time and energy into taking pictures.
“Was it difficult to learn how to use the new flash system? The learning curve consists of turning it on. It couldn’t be easier. And now I only have to charge two batteries instead of thirty batteries”.
More importantly, she no longer has to fret about misfires, loose connections, and all of the other variables that can invariably go wrong when shooting with an arsenal of Speedlites and related accessories. Vanessa Joy likes keeping things simple, and from her experience, Profoto’s B1 500 AirTTL lighting system is as easy, trouble-free, and as per Vanessa Joy’s preference for working gear, as simple as it gets.
See more of Vanessa Joy’s images at her website.
Learn more about the B1 here.