Travel and lifestyle photographer Matt Ferr has a special passion for portraiture, and if the assignment involves shooting portraits in beautiful locales, so much the better. Though Matt prefers the ‘look and feel’ of natural light, he discovered the advantages of incorporating off-camera flash into his workflow while on a tour of Alaska, which was sponsored by Profoto. During his time there he had an opportunity to try the then-new Profoto B10, which in his words it was an eye-opener. What blows Matt away is the fact he was able to start using the flash – successfully – minutes after picking it up for the first time. It couldn’t be less painful. It was easy.
Matt has since discovered a flash that has changed is approach to flash photography – the Profoto A10. “The size of the A10 is what first got my attention, but what sold me was how super-simple and intuitive the flash worked – especially when paired with the new button-free Profoto Connect. It’s as intuitive as it gets – you turn it on and it works! I can use the A10 on-camera or wirelessly off-camera with equal ease. The A10s lithium-ion battery goes on forever, and the diffuser dome that goes on and off with magnets is terrific for giving me the soft, natural look I always aim for”.
The accompanying photographs were taken on a trip to Mormon Row, which is a historic district of abandoned homestead complexes in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Matt and his model – Sam, got an early start in order to be ready to go the moment the sun cracked the horizon line.
Matt knew it was just the two of them and they would be doing a fair amount of moving around in a relatively short period of time, so packing light was a priority. Shooting with a Sony a7 III (Sony A7III) with Sigma 105mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 ART-series lenses, Matts lighting system consisted of his Profoto A10, a stand, and a Profoto Connect for wireless flash control. Add a few spare batteries for the camera and lights and they were off!
The first rays of golden sunrise were gorgeous as anticipated, but the harsh desert sun cast dark shadows onto Sam’s face. In order to open up the shadows Matt set up a light stand with a Profoto A10 off to the side with a Profoto Dome Diffuser magnetically attached to the front of the flash head to soften just enough light to open the darker shadows while maintaining Matt’s preferred natural light look.
As the sun began to climb higher over the horizon line, Matt shifted his camera to a position that placed the sun directly behind Sam, which enabled him to use the sun as a back light the her hair. He then repositioned his stand-mounted Profoto A10 closer to his camera and used it as a soft fill light to counter the bright sunlight that was now backlighting his model. By slowly adjusting the power output on his A10, Matt was able to dial in the exact amount of light needed to softly light Sam’s face while maintaining a believably natural balance between the light from his flash, which was falling softly on Sam’s face and the sun that was directly behind her.
Creative Lighting Tips from Matt Ferr
- Always have a light stand handy to secure the flash. You don’t always want your flash to be on-camera. Moving your flash off-camera enables you to shape and control the angle and intensities of your highlight and shadow areas.
- Don’t be afraid of flash – it’s not all that complicated. The Profoto A10 is both intuitive and uncomplicated. Anybody can pick one up, play with it for a few minutes and start taking pictures.
- If you like natural light the A10 is amazing as a one-light fill. Profoto’s A10 nails it as a one-light setup and the results look absolutely natural.
- Profoto created a full line of OCF light modifiers including a Dome Diffuser that softens the flash, making for truly natural-looking fill light. A10 light modifiers attach magnetically – it takes no time to attach the modifiers or remove them as conditions change.
- And lastly - don’t be afraid to play – combine natural light with flash and see what happens. Experiment. Bounce the light. Reflect the light. Be as creative as you want to be!