Celebrity commercial photographer Ian Spanier began taking photographs at six years old when his parents gave him his first point and shoot camera. After majoring in photography in college, Ian worked in publishing as an editor, but making pictures never left him. Since re-entering the photography industry, Ian has mastered commercial portrait lighting.
In this video, we went behind the scenes with Ian to see step-by-step how he builds his simple, yet precise, 3 studio lighting setup. Ian utilizes two FJ400 strobes with a variety of modifiers to really control where the light of each falls on his subject. The FJ400 is the first portable 400Ws AC/DC strobe with under a second recycle speed at full power that offers an impressive 480+ full-power flashes per charge. The lightweight FJ400 offers unrivaled performance with the most accurate color temperature throughout its entire 9-stop output range.
Especially when working with actors and entertainers, Ian strives to create a space that allows his subjects to move around naturally throughout the shoot. By creating a vastly lit space and dynamic background, Ian can simply inform his subject of the area that is in frame and create a more personal image.
Building the Setup
To create the appearance of a single light source, Ian utilizes a “stacking” technique. He places two FJ400 strobes modified by large umbrellas camera right, illuminating his subject both straight-on and from above. The key strobe is modified by a 7-Foot Silver Umbrella with a diffusion cover. The lower strobe is modified by a 43-Inch Deep Silver Umbrella with a diffusion cover. To bounce this light softly to fill in shadows on the left side of his subject, Ian brings in a 4-Foot x 6-Foot Scrim with diffusion fabric camera left. This setup creates a precise spread of light that allows his subject to move around throughout the shoot while staying properly lit.
To create depth in background, Ian stacks two printed X-Drop backdrops behind his subject. This creates a shadow between the two backdrops based upon where the light is placed.