When shooting lifestyle and content on location, you are exposed to a lot of factors – light being the most important. Add high expectations and deadlines, and you can quickly find yourself in deep water if you don’t have the tools to tackle the conditions. In this article you learn how Emma Svensson uses Profoto A10 flashes to turn reality into expectations, and create awesome lifestyle images that meet any clients’ needs.
Emma Svensson is the self-taught multi-talented superstar of Swedish photography. In 20 years, she has migrated from covering thousands of rock concerts and music events, to getting inside the ropes of fashion photography, and after having randomly been inspired by the film ’Everest’ on a flight to New Zealand –she’s today an accomplished high-altitude climber and adventure lifestyle photographer and content creator.
Emma has always been devoted to lifting other photographers and is today one of our most appreciated teachers. These mentoring abilities became clear when she picked up a couple of Profoto A10, along with skiing couple William and Kajsa, and showed us how easy it is to nail great images with flash.
The assignment shows how any image creator can produce great shots even in tough light. With the super simple controls and a few light shapers – Emma’s captures of William and Kajsa prove what can be done by anyone, taking photography from brutal reality to magical expectations.
The perfect recipe to create a memorable evening
This is a typical situation for many event photographers, facing a poorly lit location with mixed lights that you want to look natural in your final shot. Without a flash, you can shoot wide open, pump up the ISO and (if you have steady hands) lower your speed. Chances are that you’ll get some motion blur, and that the darks in your models’ faces will stay dark - leaving you with a boring result.
The Night Out - Reality
Emma put a Profoto A10 on camera, and put a Clic Gel Full CTO on it, mimicking the warm light of the restaurant’s bulbs, synching the color temperature in-camera. She could then fire off a shot using TTL, to get the general idea what her flash power should be at. After switching back to manual, she easily adjusted the power of the A10 until the faces got properly lit, and popped out from the background. Voila, she made a spectacular night scene from nothing. Or, with a Profoto A10 that is.
The Night Out - Expectations
Brightening the morning with ease
This was a gray morning, with boring light filling the room. The dull natural light wasn’t able to show off the goodies, everything is flat and most details are lost in dark shadows.
Breakfast in Bed - Reality
To make the flash light look soft and natural, Emma used an OCF adapter and OCF Softbox directed from the window to imitate natural light, with the A10 that she controlled with the Profoto camera app. This setup easily made the food pop, and that breakfast suddenly became very appealing.
Breakfast in Bed - Expectations
Smart use of a great app
Sweden in February isn’t really a location photographer’s dream - as the light is often flat, gray and super boring. When you add the late hour of the day, a shot with only natural light is a big challenge since you tend to miss details, expressions, highlights, and much needed separation from the background.
Behind the scenes at the husky shoot - Reality
This BTS image is shot with the Profoto Camera app, a great location add-on. As Emma shuts her remote off, the BTS photographer can use the same lighting set-up. The Umbrella Deep White and single A10 is enough to create a natural softness, and most importantly - create the look that Emma has planned for.
Behind the scenes at the husky shoot - Expectations
Bringing attention to details
When moving in closer on Kajsa and William, it becomes even more obvious how hard it is to pull off a great shot without added light. The scene is dark, boring and lifeless. The models’ black clothes disappear totally, and details are lost.
Cuddle Session - Reality
But when the A10 fires, on just the right power (lower than max, to reduce charge time), Emma is able to bring life into this late afternoon cuddle session. Details are there, eyes lit up, but the image still looks very natural. Also, by using HSS (using faster shutter speed than normal flash sync), she can shoot with a wide aperture and a shallow depth of field (with focus on their faces) while at the same time keeping the beautiful blue sky.
Cuddle Session - Expectations
Bringing the perfect storm to a parking lot
Sometimes we’re stuck in a location that is less than perfect, such as this parking lot. To create a stunning portrait of Kajsa in the snow, Emma faces true difficulties - when shooting without flash. To freeze the snowy action, she’d have to crank up the speed, risking everything else to come out way too dark.
Parking lot snowstorm - Reality
Emma places an A10 on Kajsa from the side, and another one in the back lighting up the snow (without spilling light into the lens). The result is immediate, as both Kajsa’s face and the snowy surroundings are perfectly lit, sharp and interesting.
Parking lot snowstorm - Expectations
Profoto A10 – The perfect tool for creation and control
Shooting lifestyle and content on location is a handful for any photographer, but as Emma has showed us - it can be easy and straightforward to elevate a scene from reality to expectations, using the right gear. With Profoto innovation – modern flashes are now truly portable and crazy simple to use. Also, content creators often don’t have the luxury of big sets and a handful of assistants - but instead rely on carrying, setting up, creating and delivering themselves. Such as Emma!
When Emma is exploring landscapes, she’s obviously shooting in natural light since no flash on earth can illuminate an entire Mont Blanc. But after 20 years in the business, she has made Profoto flashes her friends - as they always seem to deliver when she needs them the most. Living out of a camper van half of the time, Emma is still obsessed with creating images that don’t look like other images. For her, finding the perfect balance of natural and created light is about never maxing out the power of her flashes, but instead only using as much as the scene demands.
With only a couple of Profoto A10 flashes, a Profoto Connect remote, lightweight stands, and a few lightweight light shapers - she has again proved how easy it is for anyone to take fantastic photographs in difficult light. Inspiring us all to take our own photography from reality, to expectations.