Kara Mercer highlights the strength of mothers with the Profoto B10.
When I set out to photograph ten working mothers with their young children in three cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle—I understood I faced a specific set of challenges. The project, entitled “Motherhood & Careers,” was produced in collaboration with FUJIFILM and born from contemplating the changes that occur in the lives of women when they add motherhood to the mix. I have two children myself—I recently gave birth to my second daughter, Marlowe Layne, on February 28—and I knew that my subjects (at least the ones still in diapers) would have mood swings, get hungry and need to burn energy throughout the course of the shoot. Their unique personalities would shine through, whether this facilitated my job or not. However, it was important for me to let the kids be kids and not rush them to get the images.
To keep a feeling of cohesion in the photographs, which were shot over multiple days at varying times, I set some controls: the tan backdrop was the same at every shoot, as was the lighting setup, which consisted of a Profoto B10 light outfitted with an XL Profoto Deep Translucent Umbrella and a Profoto A1 light on a Fujifilm GFX 50R medium-format camera.
I asked each of my subjects to pick their outfits using a color palette I sent them in advance. They were women I admired already, whether I knew them personally, worked with them on shoots or followed them on Instagram.
To add some diversity to the images, I used a variety of props, including strands of wheat, a tape measure and wooden toys that kept with the modern and minimal vibe. The idea was to feature the women both as individuals and as part of a whole.
To add to the challenge of capturing ten unpredictable (and often “hangry”) sets of subjects, I was seven-and-a-half months pregnant. I was grateful for my Profoto gear, which was light enough for me to carry without fearing I would go into early labor. The setup and tear down of the B10 is super quick and simple, but the outcome of the images is top-notch.
I first started using Profoto gear three years ago on a shoot for the fashion brands Filson and Dyer & Jenkins, and I haven’t looked back since. Profoto’s portfolio of lighting has only gotten better with time, and now I can take strobes along the road with me for international commercial jobs with ease because they are super portable and reliable.
Super soft light without shadows or lines of interest bores me. Strong light is what I generally use, and Profoto gear is exactly what I needed to capture mothers in their element, interacting with their children beautifully and gracefully.
Tips & Tricks
TURNING CHALLENGES INTO AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES.
- WHEN TRYING TO ACHIEVE NATURAL LIGHT, I use a larger or longer light modifier like the Umbrella XL or the RFi 5’ Octa.
- BOUNCING LIGHT is a great way to achieve indirect lighting that is soft. It also lightens your setup load if you just need a small pop of light in your frame.
- PLACING OBJECTS in front of your light source can create shadow patterns that create interest and mimic natural light flooding into your home from a window. Look at any light pattern during the daytime and explore ways to recreate the same light pattern and shape.
- CHANGING THE HEIGHTS of your lights can help even out the light displacement.