Tag along with Brandon Woelfel on his first shoot with the Profoto C1 Plus in New York and see how he discovers what a unique and powerful creative tool it really is.
In Long Island, New York, there’s a young image creator who is redefining photography. His work is singular and unique, filled with color light play and whimsy. To say his work is popular is something of an understatement. Put it this way, many of the more established professional photographers do well to have upward of fifty thousand followers on Instagram; Brandon Woelfel has three million.
It seemed wholly appropriate then that Profoto should approach Brandon to test their brand-new flash - the Profoto C1 Plus.
For many years Profoto has been making the best lights for many of the world’s leading professional photographers. With the C1 Plus, Profoto has built a flash for everyone passionate about creating images.
Brandon’s process is pretty organic. “I love to leave parts of a shoot open for interpretation. I find that progressing from concept to shoot needs to be initiated by pure inspiration instead of all the technicalities behind the result you want to capture. If I’m not utterly passionate about a shoot - my work suffers.”
Inspiration is always close at hand for Brandon; living just a train ride from arguably the most intense, influential, and creative metropolis in the world is a real bonus.
“My influences come from other photographers pushing the boundaries and my surroundings. Growing up close to New York City has driven my art forward - the fast-paced energy of the city has provided me with endless new collaborations and relationships.”
It’s all about the light
When Brandon first got his hands on the C1 Plus, he saw the potential immediately. “I was blown away by how Profoto managed to put such a powerful flash in such a small unit, but what I was super excited about was that this lighting tool could be paired not only with my DSLR camera - but my iPhone too.”
And light is such an essential tool for Brandon. “While not always taking advantage of natural daylight hours, I resort to introducing new lighting techniques that brighten my subjects, from continuous artificial lights and lighting props to the passing of a car’s headlights. I’ve found this way of working pushes my creative boundaries.”
For his shoot with the Profoto C1 Plus, Brandon opted to stay close to home, feeling that by shooting in familiar locations would bring a feeling of authenticity to the images. So, he used his home studio where he had a good stockpile of props close to hand, and then later headed outside to a local historic park up the street. Finally, as blue hour approached, they headed towards a local dock.
At Brandon's home studio he decided on a yellow theme placing Cailee Rae, his model against a bright yellow backdrop with yellow flowers in her hand. Shooting from his iPhone, Brandon first fired off a few shots with just the Clic Dome Diffuser on the C1 Plus. Later he opted to stack a Clic Gel Yellow on the light with the Clic Dome for a more intense feeling. "We played around with dramatic lighting that I set within the Profoto Camera and found that it produced an awesome high fashion look to the final images."
An overcast exterior
By the time Brandon and Cailee arrived at the local park, the day had become a little dull and overcast. "The ambient light was producing patchy areas on Cailee's skin - so this is where the C1 Plus came in handy. A golden-hour glow was what I was aiming for, so I connected the C1 Plus to the Profoto Camera via bluetooth and switched up to a warmer color temperature. From there - I just moved the C1 Plus around in my free hand until the light on Cailee's face was exactly right."
And the light goes down
For the final shoot with Cailee they made the way towards a small harbor on Long Island Sound. There they found a wooden cabin amongst the boats bobbing on the water. The sun was below the horizon, and the mood was what's commonly known as 'blue hour.' These lighting conditions are a-typical Brandon Woelfel territory.
"The C1 Plus was our only source of light, and it did not disappoint." Using a hollowed-out book as a prop, Brandon Placed the C1 Plus with a Clic Dome inside and positioned Cailee sitting against the weather-beaten outside wall of the cabin with the 'book' open in her hands.
"I was going for an enchanting and conceptual vibe with the Profoto C1 Plus illuminating Cailee's face with soft light seemingly from inside the book. Again, shooting with my iPhone, I worked with both flash and experimented with warmer tones with the continuous light feature - which is also perfect for shooting video."
Welcome to Brooklyn
The next day Brandon made his way to a location in Brooklyn where he met up with model; Charlotte McKee. The location space featured a stunning wall of ornate mirrors of different shapes and sizes that he was excited to use as a backdrop.
"There were windows on either side of the wall filled with mirrors; as a result, Charlotte was quite heavily backlit. I used the C1 Plus with a Clic Diffuser to provide some foreground light to compensate. To add another layer, I asked Charlotte to hold a mirror so I could capture her reflection. Here I chose to shoot with my Nikon Z7 that connected to the C1 Plus via the Profoto Connect trigger, and honestly, it was just as easy as shooting with my iPhone.
Playing with light
For the final image, Brandon found an intimate book-filled nook in another room of the location. "I realized that the area we were shooting in had green accents all around, so I stacked one Clic Gel Scarlett with the Clic Dome on the C1 Plus. I chose to shoot in the continuous light mode because it made it super-easy to see what I was getting."
"Again, I chose to shoot on my iPhone, and the C1 Plus in combination with the Clic Gel produced a fascinating color combination which I loved."
During the shoot, Brandon was determined to try out pretty much every function the C1 Plus had to offer. And the tiny size and super portable nature of the flash allowed him to explore and play with light. "I was a big fan of shooting with it hand-held while firing the initial shot from the button on the side of the C1 Plus. While shooting, I found myself consistently positioning it all around the subject until I found a ‘sweet spot.'"
"After experimenting with the C1 Plus, I now have a portable and lightweight flash that I can take with me everywhere. A flash I can use on professional shoots with clients or for simple iPhone portraits with friends.
But more than that, I can now bring authentic professional flash power into my iPhone images. I always use my iPhone to capture content on the go, especially for social media. With the C1 Plus in my pocket, my mobile images can look every bit as professional as those I capture on my DSLR.”
Final words for aspiring image creators
"My best advice for aspiring photographers or creators is never get discouraged by creating the art YOU want to create. It may seem as though the art world is oversaturated with other content creators, but there's always room for your work. Diving headfirst on your own into this industry has its challenges, but the experience you'll gain by keeping at it will show itself through your work."