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Bare bulb — Stefan Tell, Sweden

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Bare bulb

Profoto, White Softlight Reflector and a bare bulb for this rockabilly portrait.

This is a portrait of what I guess is Sweden’s foremost expert on the rockabilly culture, that is maybe not so hard to guess by his appearance? His publisher asked me to get some publicity portraits for his new book, and I brought some lights and stands to his apartment thinking it was going to be easy.

It wasn’t. The portrait bit was not so hard, he is very used to getting his picture taken and even likes it, I think. But making room in his apartment for light stands and me and him and some other things I brought along was impossible.

So I had to restrict my plans a bit, and reduce the lighting to the bare minimum. One main light and one for the background, doubling as hair light.

One beauty dish and one bare bulb…


I am often hired by companies to take photos for their image banks, and many times they more or less request a style that is seen often in stock photos. Clean setups in a bright room, one or two persons having some sort of meeting and a relatively simple background. Photos that are easy to use on the web, in financial reports and newsletters, but with their own people, not generic models.

Using ordinary people to act as models can be tricky, but it can also be very simple. In this case, where they would be having an informal meeting around an iPad, I just told them to play meeting. And that is something most people can to, and even find amusing. As soon as they start having their fake meeting, I start shooting, giving them as little directions as I can. Sooner or later it looks almost natural.

Lighting this kind of photo is mostly done by adding light in a fashion that makes the image bright and clean. I try to imagine how the light would be if they where in an office with very large windows.

[Read the full post here…]


During 2012 I have been shooting a lot of photos like this for my clients, the best way to describe the style would be as stock photo-ish. But with an important variation, my clients wants to feature their own staff and preferably shoot them in their own environment. Which can be tricky sometimes.

With so much (often really good) stock photos in use everywhere, that style has become some sort of standard for many. And that is easy to understand, the style is bright, clean and simple to use. You can put in almost any layout, in a magazine or on a web site, and it will fit just right in.

So creating photos in this style, but using people from my client’s organisations and working in their offices has been the brief for many assignments. The photo above comes from a hospital and by pure luck, it was recently renovated. It had large windows, and white walls, so my contribution to the light was mostly to make it brighter.

Two lights aimed at the walls…

Two Profoto D1 bare bulb adds some light to a small room. BTS

Very often, I find myself in small rooms, trying to do a portrait with limitations in height, width and length. And maybe more things.

Most of the times, I try to squeeze in a light modifier that I think might work, probably a softbox as they are easier to control, and limit stray light/reflections with black fabric. But if there is some kind of situation I need to take a picture of, for example a meeting between a doctor and a patient, taking place at a desk standing near both a window and a wall, that will be harder.

The easiest way, sometimes, is just to add a little light from angles that feels natural in such an environment, and let the room take care of the rest. And that would be from almost straight above, as that is how rooms like that are lit.

Test shot and more here…


This is a portrait from a client’s showroom I took when they needed new photos for their image bank. In fact, this was from the second time I visited them. The first time, they asked me if I could snap a few portraits while I was there collecting new products for a shoot in my studio.

I had my camera with me, but nothing else, and with only very bright spotlights in the ceiling, the test shots turned out pretty ugly. Trying placing them near their windows didn’t help much that day, it was a bit too dark outside. And raining, so that ruled out outdoor portraits.

With a little help from studio lights…