Over the past few years, I’ve been bringing the Profoto B1 Location Kit with me to give my environmental portraits an extra punch. The B1’s and B1X’s are perfect for how I work - they give me the flexibility of a battery powered head without any sacrifices in power or color output. For these reasons, I always have my lights locked and loaded for a shoot.
I pack a few different modifiers I consider essential so that I can adapt to any situation. The first is the Profoto Magnum. This intense light modifier has proved to be the perfect solution on many occasions. I’ll rig the hard light high and far away from my subject to create a punchy, textured light throughout the scene. It’s my answer for creating a image that feels similar to hard (and controlled) sunlight.
The quality of light is crisp and intense, and was perfect for this reckless skydiving image showcasing Death Wish Coffee, the world’s most caffeinated coffee:
The Softlight Reflector with a grid is another favorite of mine. The Softlight Reflector (often also referred to as a Beauty Dish) creates such a luxurious and even quality of light that can serve as a quick solution to many problems. I often find myself wanting to shape the light just a touch more, though. Attaching the grid allows me to do so. Below, I used a Softlight Reflector with a grid metered at f/5.6 for the main light, and brought in a 2'x3' Soft Box at f/4 to light the background.
When the space allows, I love to use modifiers that are as large as the subject I am lighting. For the outdoor portrait seen below of Elliot during golden hour, I brought in a RFi 5’ Octa as my main light, placed camera left and coming in at f/8. After firing off a few test shots, I knew I needed just a kiss of extra light for my subject’s face. I dialed in a Zoom Reflector with a 10 degree grid to really make his face and expression pop for the final image.
Even indoors, the 5' Softbox Octa has proven to create a lovely quality of light. It was my light of choice for the final image below. The image is of Joshua Anthony Campbell, a talented bartender from New York City. Using the natural sunlight as an edge light, I was able to key in the Octa camera left to fill in the shadows of my subject.
With the Magnum, Softlight Reflector, and 5' Octa in my kit, I can walk into any situation feeling confident and prepared. The Magnum has come in handy when I need to rake hard light across an entire scene. It’s slim profile also makes it incredibly portable. When working indoors, using a Softlight Reflector with a grid allows me to sculpt the perfect quality of light onto my environmental portrait subjects. If I have plenty of breathing room, such as outdoors or in an interior space with high ceilings, the 5' Octa is an easy decision. Using these three modifiers has enabled me to solidify my approach to lighting. They’ve informed my style and elevated the production value of my photographs to a level that I am proud to showcase in my portfolio.
About Chris Coe
Chris Coe is an American photographer born outside of Boston. He launched his photography career running from one restaurant opening to the next, creating a diverse array of images for culinary publications. As he captured chefs, wine tastings, and interior images, he began to forge his way of seeing. Chris Coe currently resides in Brooklyn.