by Jamie Hayes
I am obsessed with the technology we have available at our finger tips today. Photographing has never been easier, more reliable and creative than it is at this very moment in history. I’ve been a professional photographer for over 35 years and have owned just about every gadget known to man. Every year I seek out products and services and software that will make our studio run more efficiently, make us more money and lighten my gear load on location and in the studio. I can remember when we had so much gear that it required an assistant just to carry the heavy bags of cameras, lenses and lighting gear needed for the shoot. Well, those days are long gone… thank goodness. As we have incorporated technology and advancements in lighting equipment, my focus has shifted more to the client experience than to the things we use to make the perfect picture. Now I can create almost any basic lighting effect or technique with just what I today carry in my camera bag! Simply amazing.
My favorite style of lighting is “additive,” using a strobe and light modifiers (softbox, umbrella, scrim, etc.) to control the contrast, mood and style of light on the main subject so that it matches the mood and feeling I had pre-visualized. It really is the answer to so many problems that most photographers experience when they have to do post work on their files in software to make them match the idea of the final images in their mind’s eye. Using our simple lighting concept, we are able to immediately see the final prefect result instantly… no Lightroom or Photoshop required (Sorry, Julianne Kost. You know I love ya and all the Adobe products)… on the back of our camera’s LCD screen.
With that being said, I have tried every brand of light on the market to date and nothing beats Profoto! I know what you are probably thinking, “It’s so expensive.” It’s funny, but I’ll bet that most of you purchase the best camera bodies, prime lenses (that dreaded 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens), and accessories to make that perfect 8×10 but you look at lighting equipment as an expense and not as an investment. Wake up! If you are going to be a professional photographer and charge money for your services and products, you need to have reliable gear that will last a lifetime.
Now that I have climbed down off my soap box lets get down to business and look at the Profoto B1X. This piece of equipment really has changed my life in a fantastic way. First, not having to be connected to an electrical power source in so freeing. I used to have to find an outlet first when arriving at a shooting location and then determine the background based on where I could find power. Now I have the freedom to be able to finish several sessions back to back without having to change a battery, indoors or outdoors.
With super fast recycle times, large capacity quick recharging batteries, high speed sync, and passive TTL systems, photographic additive lighting is a breeze. This allows me the freedom of not having to think about anything except how my client is feeling during the session. This kind of personal attention is so unexpected today because most photographers usually keep their cameras to their faces, yelling commands to their clients to react naturally and smile. I am now able to keep my eyes locked on the subject, looking at them outside of the camera instead of fumbling with my camera settings or constantly looking at the LCD panel. I believe this is the reason our clients trust us to get the best shots that are so authentic to them. Profoto lights are so consistent and simple to use that all of this and more is possible, regardless of the type of subject you are photographing. Here are just a few of the features that I am most obsessed with:
Passive TTL – No light meter needed ( although I could not live without one, just to be perfectly clear). Simply set your exposure for the background first, fill the entire viewfinder with only the face of the subject, switch the AirTTL remove into TTL mode (camera specific models are required ), take the shot, and the strobe is set to the perfect exposure every time. You can add or subtract the amount of flash on the face by adjusting the AirTTL remote up or down in power in units as precise as 1/10 f/stop. Regardless of the tonality of the skin of the subject, from extremely fair skin to the darkest complexions, the output is instantly calculated for the perfect exposure. It’s that simple. Just lock in that exposure by pressing the same TTL button to manual, recompose your shot, and fire.
High Speed Sync – Just like the old film days with my Hasselblad, Mamiya, and Bronica cameras, I now can set the shutter speed to any speed I need while the strobe matches the flash output to again get the perfect exposure. Very simple!
Extreme short flash duration – With the B1X and the A1, I can also stop action instantly, from water droplets in the rain to those fantastic dancers using flour. Any fast moving subject is perfectly rendered frozen in action. Just press the shutter.
Extremely fast recycle time, rapid fire – The Profoto B1X’s features a recycle time from .2 to 1.9 seconds and provides perfect exposure, too. There is even a fast burst and freeze mode that will deliver 20 flashes per second. Now that’s cool! Long gone are the days of missing that perfect shot because my strobe wasn’t ready.
The most extensive line of light modifiers in the world – Controlling and shaping light is my obsession and passion and knowing that every umbrella, softbox, grid, and light modifier fits on any of my Profoto strobes (Studio D1’s or Location B1x’s) streamlines my process. I never have to arrive on location only to discover that I don’t have the “thing that connects the things to my strobes.” Instead of having several different light techniques (and gear ) for each type of session, I only have one and they work seamlessly every time.
With the vast array of light modifiers, quick charging batteries, and wonderful back packs to hold it all, why would anyone not look at the world of Profoto. It’s worth the investment. Isn’t your photography worth it, too?
Joining forces over 20 years ago, the team of Jamie Hayes and Mary-Fisk Taylor have become a dynamic duo of photography. By combining Jamie’s extensive photographic experience and Mary’s unparalleled creative marketing and business management skills, they have built two highly successful studios that gross well over $1 million annually. They will be teaching another fun and informative class at the Texas School of Professional Photography. For more information on their class, go to www.TexasSchool.org.