I think I started taking photographs when I was 12 or so. I had a Browie with a flash and it was the year I wore glasses. One of my eyes is bad since the retina was burned when I had scarlet fever. Glasses don’t really help this problem, but I was prescribed glasses by an eye doctor who was apparently incompetent.
I took pictures of the talent show at the Elon College Elementary School wearing a sport jacket and the camera slung around my neck and I thought I looked like a newspaper photographer. I still have a couple of the pictures. One shows a girl in a white leotard holding a twirling baton and the other shows Mrs. Parish who I believe was our 6th Grade teacher.
Lighting was flash and the extent of my knowledge about lighting was that you had to get some.
For a long time my only real knowledge about lighting was find it or make it and I was most concerned with content and composition.
Somehow it turned out that I ended up living in Rochester New York where photography is pretty big as an interest and an industry. I used to go to the George Eastman House and sit in a gallery and look at the photographs on the walls, and look through my box of photographs.
I thought I was pretty good.
There is a fair amount of my work wandering around in Rochester. Many of my best negatives were lost about 4 years ago so I am aware that I often thought that I would do an image again better since the negative existed, but this was a mistaken belief.
It was my birthday this last day after Christmas and I turned 53.
It is amazing that I have made it this far so well but I am aware of how lucky I will be if I get through to tomorrow anywhere as I am today.
I tell younger artists of all areas of that career to take their work seriously from the get go.
Certainly movies are made by people that don’t know anything, for people that don’t know anything which is maybe why at 53 I don’t get much excited by the the movies, and prefer to pick one or two a month maybe to watch on the DVD, which I have hooked into the NAD and 4 speakers if I really want.
I enjoyed The Aviator that way.
Now the sort of lighting done for the photographing of the Aviator I am really grateful to have learned in the streets of Manhattan.
I learned that because I could drive a big truck.
During my divorce in Rochester I drove a cab and made light shows with my films at a nightclub called Club Zero where I got beat up by three guys defending a porn star from rape.
Cheryl Lauro put up money to send me to New York City after that and I got a job driving a Lighting a Grip Truck because I could drive a big truck and had taken a lot of pictures and made little movies.
At first I worked on low budget movies and music videos and then I got good enough to work on commercials which I discovered to be better work than music videos in general, without a doubt.
Despite all my dreams and ambitions as an artist I have to admit I have made so far more money lighting for others and there are a some things I have learned about it.
Light comes from above.
Light is Blue or Yellow.
Light is hard or soft.
Hot lights are better than Flash…
You can change everything with how you direct the lights.
Getting to direct the lights and the camera is more fun than just directing the camera.
For stills and motion picture I really prefer using hot lights over flash lighting.
I think that in general still photographers are not well taught about lighting.
I was surprised myself to discover that I could put the same filters and gels over a light as I could over a lens.
Certainly it is one thing to capture an image, and another to make it.
When I worked on The Guiding Light GAM was just coming into the market and I was lucky to discover that they were a superior filter and gel company over Lee and Rosco.
For still photographers and motion picture photographers the Kino Flo lights for soft fill allow them both to photograph what they can see continuously without melting human subjects.
They are in the category of hotlights because they are on and you can move them around while they are on, but they do not heat the room up so much that your talent and crew is tortured by heat in small rooms.
I have too often seen Directors of Photography bulldoze Directors into allowing lighting to cause suffering of the actors.
Now if it was my job to teach photography, I would ask each photograher that I was teaching, to ask themselves why they are taking any particular photograph before they take the picture.
I would tell them to put a title to every picture.
Work is the great spiritual quest for the material necessities.
Making photographs is work.
Do not take light for granted.
There are more tools for making light in motion picture lighting than there are in still picture lighting and the still photographer who knows what tools are available to light motion pictures has a leg up on the still photographer who doesn’t.
The 1200 Cinepar is one of the greatest inventions of all time for lighting.
For one thing you can plug it into the wall socket and not blow a breaker.
A nice package of lights is 3 1200 Cinepars and 6 Inkys and a 2500 and 5 Tweenies, some BCAs and ECT bulbs along with Gam Gel set of diffusion and party colors and color correction gels.
You will need some Aces, or 1K Fresnel lights as well. In all cases it is good to have at least 3 of every light that can be plugged into the wall sockets and not blow the circuits.
I have written and will post this for my daugher and the daughter of someone else who told me at a party she was studying photography. In both cases I hope they will visit a lighting suppy rental company.
In Rochester I hope my daughter will visit Mammoth and here in Carrboro I suggest Harris Chewning as places to visit for serious photographers that want to know what lights are available for use.