3 Lighting tips from Russ Harrington

Bag of tricks

Russ Harrington, who’s photographed 700 album covers and self-identifies as a “lighting guy,” will deliver a session on lighting and modifiers at Imaging USA 2017.

Professional Photographer caught up with Harrington for three bits of lighting advice:

3 Lighting tips from Russ Harrington, celebrity and fashion photography by Russ Harrington
© Russ Harrington
Setting up for the Alan Jackson shoot

1. Choose the right modifier for the situation. Does this image need a 7-foot modifier or three snoots? It ultimately depends on what kind of image the client wants and for what purpose.

2. Light for the image’s intended use. An image meant to advertise a subject’s wholesome lifestyle brand will require different lighting than an edgy rocker shot of the same subject. For example, for a recent client, Harrington captured two very different types of portraits that required very different lighting: For the lifestyle brand portrait, which was made outdoors, he bounced a head into a 12x12-foot white fabric panel for a big soft main light (with mirror boards directing beams of light onto a house in the distant background). For an edgy rocker shot of the same subject, he used a Profoto beauty dish with a grid and four heads on a white background “for a super-clean high-contrast vibe,” he says.

3. Be brave. “There are infinite numbers of ways to light your subject, no one way being the perfect way,” Harrington says. So move your lights around and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Amanda Arnold is the associate editor of Professional Photograper.