In the Creating the Right Light series, Click Pro photographer Meg Loeks explores lighting using the Profoto A1, transforming from a natural light shooter to one who finds new inspiration in creating and shaping her own light. Based in Michigan, USA, Meg lives with her husband, three boys and a Saint Bernard. As an image creator, she is drawn to environmental portraiture, lifestyle photography, landscapes, and moody low light and color. Inspired by the changing seasons and the beautiful landscapes in her surroundings, Meg is a true storyteller who loves capturing her children and bringing out the beauty in her everyday life.
As a natural light photographer, I am completely dependent on the weather, which we all know is never consistent. I often avoid shooting in the middle of the day because of the harsh and sometimes drastic changes in light. And then, of course, I constantly run into challenging situations, like not being able to shoot in certain areas of my home because I just don’t have enough light on my subject.
Just give me a window
Even though I had next to no experience shooting with artificial light, I was hoping the Profoto A1 would be both easy to use and capable of solving my light issues inside my home. The first location was just a simple space in our living room that lacked light, but it’s also one of my favorite spots in the house. It’s a perfect little cosy nook where I’m never able to shoot. With the Profoto A1, I was able to change that, creating soft, directional light on my son — something I believed I couldn’t do with flash. It was such a quick and simple setup. Just the A1 attached to my camera, turned at a 45-degree angle to bounce the light off the nearest wall and onto my subject.
After my first shot, I realized that too much light was reflecting off the wall behind my son. To fix this issue, I just attached the Bounce Card to the head of the flash. One of my favorite features about the A1 is the magnetic head, and I love how quick and easy it is to attach things like the Bounce Card. This light modifier helped me avoid flat light by providing a flag directly between the A1 and my son and bouncing the light solely off the wall to the right of my son, thus giving me the soft, directional light that I’m drawn to.
You are my sunshine
Another challenging situation I often find myself in is midday shooting. We love spending time outside, and while shooting during golden hour in the early morning and late afternoon is ideal, it’s not always practical, especially with little children. The problem I face — and I know many of us do — is the harsh light of the midday sun. It’s often overhead, casting dark, unpleasing shadows under my boys’ eyes. It’s also a challenge dealing with uneven lighting. There are often areas within my frame that have both strong highlights and shadows.
On this shoot, I solved this problem by fastening the Profoto A1 on my camera. It was late morning and my boys were swinging on their tire swing. While the swing was mostly in the shade, the field behind it was in direct sun. Had I tried to expose for my boys on the swing without the A1, the field would have been blown out. The additional light from the flash allowed for more even lighting without blowing out the background. In addition, using the Profoto A1 in TTL helped in the inconsistent natural light conditions. It was a partly cloudy day, so the sun occasionally went behind the clouds. With the A1, I didn’t have to constantly check the sky and change my camera settings. The light on my boys remained consistent, which saved me a ton of time in post-processing. Normally, I would have to significantly underexpose my subjects in camera to avoid overexposing the background, then correct exposure and skin tone in post.
Shaping my own window light
One of my absolute favorite places in my home is my basement. It’s an old farmhouse with lots of character, and our basement has beautiful stonework. I’ve always wanted to photograph my boys in this space but lacked enough light with only a few very small windows as the only light source.
To create soft, directional window light, I used my Profoto A1 on camera, close to a 90 degree angle towards the nearest window. To avoid flat light, I placed the Bounce Card — black side facing the A1 — on the head of the flash so that all the light was focused towards a single direction. The reason for facing the black side of the Bounce Card towards the A1 was to reduce bounced light and create more directional light. While I softened the light by bouncing it off the nearest wall and window, I further softened it by attaching the Dome Diffuser. This is my absolute favorite of all the light modifiers and the one I use the most. It softens the light beautifully. With this setup, I was able to create soft, directional light on my son. One of the other challenges I faced specifically in this space was focusing. Since there was a lack of light until the A1 went off, it was hard to focus on my son. The auto focus assist allowed me to quickly grab focus on my son, even with very little light in the room.
"The design of the A1 is simple and intuitive"
This is key for me as I don’t have a ton of time to fiddle with equipment when photographing three young boys. I’m sure most of us don’t have time to deal with complicated equipment. We want a simple design, but at the same time, we also want a lot of options. The Profoto A1 is light and portable and incredibly versatile thanks to the light modifiers. It’s easy for me to adjust the light quickly and produce soft, directional light that I’m drawn to. Before I was completely dependent on natural light. The A1 lifted so many restrictions, from shooting in areas of my home I've never been able to before to bringing my camera out during harsh midday sun. As the storyteller in my family, I’m now able to capture moments in places I couldn’t before. Added features like the auto focus assist make focusing easy when there is next to no light available. All these features are available within the Profoto A1.