Taking on portraits in Los Angeles with Paul Von Rieter and the Profoto A1X | Profoto (UK)

Taking on portraits in Los Angeles with Paul Von Rieter and the Profoto A1X

04 December, 2019

Written by: Julia Fuentes

Fujifilm photographer Paul Von Rieter recently took the Profoto A1X for an engagement shoot around Los Angeles. As a wedding and portrait photographer, he needs a soft and natural look in his images. Now he reveals his tips on lighting and how he used the A1X to create a variety of images, from vibrant Venice beach to an indoor shoot in downtown.

Paul’s tips to natural-light shooters

What tips can you give to natural-light shooters that want to try flash but don’t know where to start?

“Look for situations where flash can add to the look of natural light and try to enhance it. Maybe the ambient light is dull or provides uneven color tones - then that’s a perfect opportunity to introduce flash. Adding some fill light can result in a clearer light on your subject, while still keeping a natural look that blends with the surrounding ambient light.”

What are your main lighting challenges as a natural-light photographer? Has the Profoto A1X helped you to overcome them in some way?

“As a natural-light photographer, you’re forced to find a solution, even if you are given bad weather and can’t shoot in the location you were planning for. With flash, you get access to a quick and easy solution without moving around. For example, adding some fill light in poor lighting conditions outdoors. Or say that you’re shooting indoors and the tungsten light is awful, but you can’t turn the lights off, because you’re in a big hotel – that’s when you can introduce the Profoto A1X to create a cleaner and more even light.

Being a Fujifilm shooter, you recently got to try the new Profoto A1X for Fujifilm. What are your thoughts?

“I’m very excited that it’s finally available. With the level of quality that my clients expect from me, I can only use products that are solid, durable and reliable – and the Profoto A1X is just that. It really provides a premium experience, so having it available for Fujifilm is kind of ground-breaking.”

The shoot

Blue and vibrant on Abbot Kinney Boulevard

For this image, Paul used the Profoto A1X on-camera with a Dome Diffuser attached to it. “When you’re shooting in an urban environment with asphalt, you can get a gray color bouncing off it and onto the subjects,” he says. “But using the Profoto A1X helps you even out the light on the subjects and have it look a lot prettier, with even skin tones.”

Never miss a shot on Venice beach

Paul had to deal with changing clouds when shooting on Venice beach in the late afternoon, which shifted the lighting from warm to cool as they moved. “Using the A1X on top of my camera made a big difference when I was trying to make things look consistent,” he says.

Paul wanted to create a portrait of his clients, Amanda and Carson, with waves splashing in the background. But in doing so, there’s a lot to think about. When only using ambient light and exposing for the waves, the subjects become underexposed. A solution to that is to add flash. On the other hand, the waves move so quickly that you need to take a series of continuous images and make sure that the flash is fast enough to light them all.

“The Profoto A1X never missed a shot. With the fast recycle time, you can just keep on working with your clients and not worry about the light. It just does its job like it’s supposed to,” he says.

Creating a soft and natural look indoors

For these images, Paul used the Profoto A1X off-camera with a Profoto Connect remote on top of his Fujifilm X-T3 to trigger the flash. The ambient light was a bit dull, so to re-create the natural look of window light he fired the A1X into an Umbrella Deep White M. He also added a Profoto Clic Gel Full CTO to the A1X to balance the flash light with the tungsten light from the lamps. “The A1X does give you that actual honest-to-God freedom to create things, because if I’m in a situation where the lighting isn’t what I’m looking for, I can just pop up an umbrella and recreate a soft and natural light.”

Paul’s final tip – Creating golden hour

“Something I recently found out and that made a big difference to me is how to re-create golden hour any time of day using the Profoto A1X. As a photographer that likes back-lit images, you’re always seeking that rim light on a client. So, shoot your image like you normally would, but just add that touch of light in the background when natural light isn’t available – it makes all the difference.”

Click here to watch a short tutorial on how to re-create golden hour portraits.

Written by: Julia Fuentes

Products used in this story

Umbrella Deep White

A versatile and zoomable umbrella for a softer light