Studio Lighting Tips Avoiding the winter blues with studio lighting

by Guest Contributor Heather Rodburg

I love outdoor environmental portraits—warm, yummy sunlight and lots of beautiful trees and flowers and elegant compositions. I can't get enough of it in the Spring, early Summer and Fall. There's nothing like those first few warm days in Spring or the hint of crisp, cooler days in the early Fall to really make you feel alive! But Winter, oh Winter, is such a long dreary season up here in the Northeast. I can make a go of it until December 25th, but by the time New Year's rolls around I am counting down the days until warmer weather.

Now it would probably make sense to move to a warmer place, but that would mean leaving my extended family and living with bugs--really, really big bugs. And I hate bugs more than I hate winter. Other than photographing snowflakes, what's a photographer to do when facing 3+ months of cold, dreary weather and poor inclination to hang out in it for more than 10 minutes (please note that those 10 minutes include the time it takes me to leave the house to drop off the kids at school--well, when they actually manage to have school this winter between the snow days and subzero temperatures...)?

So in order to beat those winter photography blues, I turn to my studio gear and my healthy knowledge of how to use them. Without either of those things, I would be taking a rather long break from photography. I photograph purely for me and not for business; it is my creative outlet and form of stress relief, so not being able to shoot would make for a very grumpy, frustrated me.

Child Portrait Photography with Studio Lighting

Using studio lights to control my light and create exactly the look I want is so awesome and empowering. When outdoors, I am at the mercy of the sun, working different angles and looking for open shade; inside with studio lighting, I control the strength and direction of the light. It allows me to be creative with both my setting as well as lights to create different looks. And best of all, I am not freezing my butt off and neither is my subject! For example, in the dead of winter, when it is so cold out that your nose-hairs freeze, I can create my own Spring inside with a few flowers, spring colors and some studio lights:

Photography session using studio lighting

Or I can use cleanly executed studio shots as the foundation for more creatively processed images:

Creatively processed photos using studio lighting

No dance studio available? Make your own! In these photos that I just shot in December, I needed to capture multiple poses of this dancer for his dance auditions. I did not have access to a dance studio and it was very cold, wet and soggy outside–not ideal conditions to be standing around in ballet shoes with lightweight dance clothing. So it was studio shooting to the rescue!

Studio Lighting for Dance Photography

For these next set of images, I was trying to capture the subject playing his cello while using lights to recreate a stage-like setting. By manipulating the lights, I was able to use some creative lighting to get various looks for his senior photos.

Studio Lighting on Senior Photos

No snow for holiday photos??? Not a problem! Somehow I have become responsible for capturing photos for my family and close friends for holiday cards, so I need to start capturing those photos really early in the season in order to maintain the slightest semblance of sanity.  Pretty Actions has a really great holiday bokeh collection for Photoshop that works wonders on these types of photos.

Holiday Mini Sessions using Studio Lighting and Photoshop Bokeh Overlays

Studio Lighting for Family Photos

There are so many possibilities with studio lights, none of which are limited by minus 20 degree weather or 2 feet of snow! Sometimes I just put up my lights to play with the kids when we have been trapped in the house for too long. A few times I have even set up my camera on my tripod and the kids have a blast taking turns pressing the self-timer button and racing back to get into the photo before the camera fires. And best of all, I get to be in the photos!

To say that this is the time of year that I appreciate studio lighting, well, that would be an understatement! Knowing how to use your studio gear to achieve the look you want with absolute confidence is critical.  

What do you love about studio lighting?  Leave us a comment below and please share this post using the social sharing buttons. We would love to hear from you! 

Avoid the Winter Blues with Studio Lighting

Heather Rodburg

Heather’s interest in photography began in high school with B&W film photography classes and continued to grow after college with additional classes and membership in a photo cooperative while living in Boston. She gradually ventured into the world of digital photography through a point and shoot camera and then graduated to her first DSLR in 2005. Using a mixture of prime and zoom lenses and a D700 camera, she uses both studio and natural light to photograph children. While photographing children is a hobby, she has no shortage of subjects between her two children and those of friends and family.

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