Bella in San Jose, CA

Bella in San Jose, CA

I recently had the pleasure of photographing Bella in San Jose, California. I was teaching an adaptive lighting class to photographers there, and she was my model.

We made the shoot extra hard by shooting outside at the worst time of day (noon), and also mixed in some indoor shooting using a small lighting kit. I wanted to show photographers that no matter the circumstances, we can always create great images because we should always control light. That means correctly sculpting people with that light, making them look amazing no matter what, and mixing our lighting with other lighting conditions like bright sunlight.

These images turned out wonderful. I wanted you all to see them.

Had we shot with no lighting at all and relied on haphazard results (what new photographers call “natural light”), she would have had dark eyes, muddy skin, and our background would be too bright and blown out. Instead, by teaching various techniques of light control, we got fantastic images where her skin glows, her eyes pop, and the background can be as bright or dark as we want.

I went for a darker background so that we’d have a blue sky and deep greens in the foliage behind the model. I want to control the viewer’s eye so that it immediately goes to the model.


Aside from shooting a variety of options outside, I also did some demos inside using just the lighting gear that I brought with me on the plane. And you’ll see that even indoors, we can continually get great results. Besides great expressions, you’ll notice the soft shadow on the cheek, soft skin, and eyes that pop.

Thank you to Bella for being our model, and thank you to all the photographers who both attended and also worked behind the scenes to make the workshop in San Jose, California possible.

And if you’re a photographer that would like some training, check out all of the courses in the member section of this site.

And until next time, America.