The location we shot in was absolutely breathtaking. My good friend has one of the most beautiful Victorian style homes in Garden Grove. Everything is almost exactly how it was when his great-great grandparents built it. Plush pink carpets, dripping velvet curtains, and Tumblr-worthy vintage floral wallpaper everywhere. Now take this scene and add a lot of expensive photography gear and lighting and you are about to create the most compelling, inspired image, right? Actually, we would say wrong.
The description above is where this month's feature, Champagne, found her inspiration. We feel like we fell into a time machine as she shows us that less is more when you want to produce great results. As long as you know the limitations of your equipment, and how to overcome them, it is possible to take gorgeous photographs, even if you don’t have a fortune to spend on your gear.
Power Is Not Necessary
We have seen aspiring photographers spend all their money on professional equipment, but unfortunately without necessary practice, they may not have the skill to use it all. Even if your equipment isn’t top of the line, you can still accomplish wonderful things as long as you know the equipment's capability.
To prove this, Champagne simply used a couple tools: StudioPRO SDX 200 strobe along with her new best friend, the StudioPRO Rectangle Reflector panels. With a fast recycling time of less than 2 seconds, the strobe brought enough power and the perfect amount of lighting to compliment the natural lighting that was streaming in from nearby windows. Keeping it simple and lightweight, she modified her light with the 48" StudioPRO Portrait Beauty Dish. The easy, quick snap in style rods kept the set up minimal and it created a uniquely beautiful wrapping light that played perfectly off her model.
"The best advice I can give to someone just starting out is to just practice. Explore and experiment." -Champagne Cochran
While Champagne is experienced at shooting outdoors, it was a fun change to implement a bit of studio lighting to the mix. The internal fan on the SDX created a worry-less shoot because the inner electrical components stay at the optimum working temperature.
Furthermore, without having an assistant, the reflector panels became the perfect assist to the shoot. She let us know that before these panels came into her life she was having to clamp her handheld reflector to C-stands, ladders-etc. She was disappointed that she would never fully get the results she wanted while, at the same time, lacking the professionalism on set with clients. With her new StudioPRO versatile, reversible reflective fabrics, white/black and silver/gold, in less than 10 minutes she could manipulate studio or ambient light for beautiful portraits in-studio or outdoors.
Explore and Experiment
Buying a great camera doesn't mean you can create captivating photographs. Saying a camera takes nice pictures is like saying a violin plays nice hymns. Champagne admits that in no way is she an expert when it comes to lighting, but the easy and straightforward setup with these two items makes her feel confident on shoots. Each panel allowed her to manipulate the light in a number of ways. The white helped to fill in shadows while creating a soft light reflection, and the black acted as an anti-reflector, absorbing the light. The silver reflector produced more contrast and a stronger reflection while the gold added a warmer tone to the subject. You could even use this gold panel as a way to mimic the natural beauty of sunset lighting.
Shooting with lights can be disheartening especially if one has not worked with them previously. If you want a soft and dreamy look to your photos, look around and utilize the helpful addition nature has given. Keep creating and look beyond what may be right in front of you. Champagne says, "The worst thing you could do is show up on set and let the equipment control you." Whether you are amateur or expert, we think it is safe to say that keeping your gear simple may extract the most jaw dropping images.
No, this is not a joke. Champagne is her actual birth name. Raised under the hot California sun, with feet as bare as the chickens and horses she grew up with, her creative impulses blossomed and birthed her into the person she is today. She "loves the moments in life when we feel completely outside our body and at peace with the world." Champagne wholeheartedly believes that our passions in life take us there. Follow Champagne on Instagram! Check out more of her work here!