While my true passion is street photography in China, in early 2012 I decided to challenge myself by going into studio photography. That’s about as different from street photography as you can get – from no control over the subject matter in the street, to full control over all aspects of the image in the studio. I wanted to get outside of my comfort-zone and try something different. It’s part of my new life mantra of “Think Different”. Yeah, I know, not terribly original.
I had done some studio work in college, but that was using constant lighting. My new studio uses strobes (flashes) instead of constant lighting – which is more difficult to master. My brother helped me by buying my first set of strobes so I could help photograph his collection for his gallery. I’ve since upgraded to a 48″ octobox and a total of 4 strobe heads + modifiers.
Like a lot of photographers, my test models have been my kids. They have been very patient while I learn lighting setups and the technical ins-and-outs of this category of photography. My son has lost a bit of his patience and has started charging me for his modeling assistance. I typically don’t negotiate with 7-year-olds or terrorists, but in this case the $1.00 he charges me is a necessary evil of learning to use studio strobes. After all, there are only so many self-portraits you can take.
I also coerced my Chinese teacher (Yuan) to model for me. She was a trooper and some of the shots turned out nice.
The studio has become a nice sanctuary during the long Minnesota winters or downtime between China trips. I also use it for some product photography for my day job. I shot about 60% of the new product photos for our 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017 catalogs both in the US and on the road in China. I have a mobile studio stashed in China now.