“Motivating Light” is my favorite

Gregory Heisler is a professional photographer known for his portraits. Long before 2007 when David Hobby started his blog “The Strobist” Heisler was already doing some incredible work with strobes.

Heisler is most known for his 50 Time Magazine covers.

Today many photographers will quickly pull out their large soft boxes for portraits. While even Greg Heisler will use this on occasion, he prefers to light things so that they look natural.

 I recommend buying Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer’s Photographer where you see not only his photos, but hear the stories behind those photos.

Heisler introduced a new lighting term used in theater and on movie sets that is not commonly used in still photography.

Heisler heard while on a movie set the director say “Motivate the Practical.” The practical is the light fixtures with in the frame.

As Heisler pointed out that when you go onto a movie set you almost never see a large soft box. The reason you don’t is the same reason when you go outside you do not see light boxes all around us. While the light box is wonderful light that looks like a large window light, it isn’t the norm for most places we see people.

Heisler prefers to light scenes so that they look like they would in a natural setting. He even goes so far as to make his studio at night to look like a pool side photo during the day for a photo he did of Julia Roberts.

I was pleased to not only hear Greg Heisler speak I also was able to get him to personally sign a book for me.

This photo is an example of where I worked to create what would appear to be window light from the sun coming in the window. I put a strobe outside the window to create sunlight on this rainy day.

If I wanted a harder light I would have taken off the umbrella.

While in theater and movies they would call this “motivating the practical.” I am creating a light that look natural rather than just creating great light.

I too prefer using “Motivating the Practical” over most any other type of light.  It looks the most natural and the more natural the light the better the chance of it helping to create a “real moment.”