How I Got That Shot: Ryan Brenizer | Profoto (US)

How I Got That Shot: Ryan Brenizer

06 July, 2018

Written by: Rangefinder Magazine


KIRSTEN AND JAMES HAIL FROM ALBERTA, and although they love their hometown, they were looking for the cosmopolitanism of New York City for their engagement shoot. Even during a wet December evening they were upbeat, relaxed and up for anything.

They were initially a bit worried about the weather forecast that day, but I am absolutely obsessed with wedding-shoot logistics— weather in particular—and told them that the forecast actually called for the rain to stop minutes before we were scheduled to start. Not only would that clear out normally-packed Central Park, but wet city streets at night instantly provide a cinematic feel.

I spend my time translating a three-dimensional world into two-dimensional images, so I am drawn to things that help pop the subject back out: composition, color shifts and lighting. For this shoot, I set up the Profoto B2 with a OCF Softbox 2’ Octa for a more beautiful wrap-around light than the hot-shoe flash soft boxes we often use. However, this setup presented a problem: We wanted to light close to maximize the 2-foot octagonal soft box, but I wanted to do a wide shot, specifically a many-image panorama.

I solved the issue with what is known as the “Brenizer Method,” in which I light the central subject in one frame, then instruct my assistant holding the light to move out of the way before I shoot frames on that side. The method has obvious advantages in insanely shallow depthof-field, and it allows us to create a lighting composite effect with absolutely no Photoshop layering work—just a panorama stitch.

Creating a 60-image panorama and having the light move between shots is pretty advanced stuff, but I’ve been having fun practicing it for a while. We also kept the light extremely dim so that we could bring out the balance of the lights on the wet pathway. The final image captures the bokeh street lights, the wet cobblestones, and even the blush of the evening sky, setting Kirsten and James against the perfect Central Park scene.



To learn more about the Profoto Off-Camera Flash System and to see the video with Ryan Brenizer, please visit





  • THE INVERSE SQUARE LAW IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. When a light moves closer, it becomes more powerful, but the quality of the light changes, too, becoming softer with a more dramatic fall-off effect.
  • WHEN LIGHTING A MAN AND WOMAN FACING TOWARD EACH OTHER, aim the light at the woman—not just because she spent more on makeup, but because our visual culture makes most men’s faces a lot more forgiving under short lighting.
  • LEARN THE BASICS of what a light or a modifier is meant to do, then experiment with it. You may find you like it for an entirely different purpose.
  • FIRST FIGURE OUT YOUR SUBJECTS’ PLACEMENT, then work on their posing. If her chin needs to be high to catch the light, ask yourself why would someone be standing with a high chin. The best lighting in the world won’t work if the pose is unflattering or doesn’t make sense.




Written by: Rangefinder Magazine

Products used in this story

OCF Softbox Octa

Ideal for flattering portraits, used with off-camera flashes
From $174.00

Air Remote TTL

Wirelessly connects your AirTTL light with your camera
From $439.00