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Do you still use studio flash?

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by pixelpuffin, Aug 1, 2019.

  1. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    Just curious to know if members still use studio flash.
    I bought a used portaflash kit whist at college in the 90's. Added to it, but since leaving its remained dormant.
    Besides missing modelling lights I usually make do with canon flash guns using the the canon flash controller.
    I did try to sell the kit a few years back but the asking price was ignored and instead insultive offers sent - hence its all still up in the loft.

    Has studio flash become a lost art, favoured only by the most dedicated amongst us?
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  2. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Not for a few years. I've got a low cost Chinese outfit under the bed for eBay type pictures.
  3. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    I get the impression Andrew, there are many like us, who own a cheap set up but rarely use due to the phaff of setting everything up.
    Although at college I loved using the studios with the big 5x4 cameras for still life's - however with today's computer controlled flash guns that can not only talk to the camera remotely, but also work with other guns too, plus the almost infinite tweaks available in photo editing software, I do wonder if studio flash has gone the same way as film cameras ... i.e with the very few who still work with that format

    Me?, I just can't be bothered these days, I'd sooner fire off umpteen shots tweaking the set up until I get something that looks promising, then take it further during the editing phase.

    Maybe I'm just getting lazy.
  4. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I use it fairly often for paid work. I use it to get even, flat illumination which is made simple by two soft boxes. Boring light, but it's what I need.
    Never use it for personal stuff, too much faff for that.
  5. beatnik69

    beatnik69 Well-Known Member

    I considered buying a kit and am glad I didn't. I would hardly ever use it and even if I did, I wouldn't have the room for it. I have a couple of speedlights and brollies for that sort of thing, or if needs be, I can use the studio lights in the club studio (attic)
  6. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I use it all the time for paid product photography, and last week took one studio flash light down to do corporate headshots. I didn't buy cheap and I leave it set up all the time. The kids have just learned to live with a phtoography studio at one end of their bedroom!!
  7. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    Can I ask just how much paid work you both get? I'm intrigued as I find it hard to believe that there is enough work out there to make a living these days. I know quite a few wedding photographers who all have full time jobs away from photography.
    I haven't researched this at all, but I remember years back when the national papers drastically reduced their staff photographers, instead journalists now take pictures with their phones, people I know with kids just take phone shots and settle for the occasional school photos. The engineering firm I work for employs over 200 people, supplies parts globally, turns over in excess of £1m pm, yet the directors all take the product shots themselves - I've seen them.
    I just feel as though photography has lost alot of its mystique now that it's available to the masses so easily along with a plethora of powerful photo editing apps to help.

    I have done unpaid photo favours in the film era back in the mid 90's. Always did it for free, partly because I didn't know what to charge, even now I still wouldn't charge. Not because I doubt my ability but because it's just a hobby.

    I'm not knocking anyone who can make money, I'm just surprised people are willing to pay.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  8. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    I can't comment on how much the people you've asked earn, but I can tell you that people I know, who aren't photographers, still seek out and pay photographers. There's still work to be had.
  9. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I never asked how much they earn - that's none of my business

    I was asking how much work they got and is it lucrative.
    Considering the very high cost of dslrs plus OEM lenses before factoring in travel, self promotion, computer stuff not to mention software licenses and god knows what other expense before we even consider a hourly rate.....!
    I'm surprised anyone can make it pay as a stand alone photographer especially if they are having to pay for pemises too and compete with keen amateurs wanting to make a quick buck.

    Its the reason i never went into it, despite studying it at college and landing a short term job as a press photographer in the late 90's.
    it was a whole lot of stress for very little reward in my case. so i quit and retrained to be a joiner! left that almost a decade ago and went to work in engineering.
  10. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    To the original question, I've never used studio flash but we bought a rotalite three lamp kit last Chrismas for some table-top photography that my wife sometimes does. Came in a nice peli case.
  11. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Apologies, bad reading/phrasing on my part.
  12. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    That Rotalite kit sounds interesting...
    I may look into it myself.
  13. RobertCoombes

    RobertCoombes Well-Known Member

    Not since the output was quoted in joules. You had to work out guide numbers. I still remember the equation; two thirds the square root of the product of joules and asa.
  14. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    My method of selling to small businesses is to ask people if they're happy with the shots on their websites and they think they represent them and their businesses positively. If they are, fair enough. It's not so much product shots, although there's enough of that, it's shots of the people themselves in their business environments. Many of them really aren't happy with what they've taken themselves or have had one of their colleagues take for them. Most of these guys pay accountants, HR specialists, whatever - they understand the value of paying for specialism in a general sense, it's just a case of getting them to apply it to photography. I work one day a week in my wife's HR business doing finance and IT (and whatever else comes along), and it's given me a useful insight into these guys and what makes them click. It's not very well paid, and I would struggle to make a living out of it if that was all I did, but it's fun and a challenge.
    The other part of my photo side is conferences and corporate events. Pretty easy work in comparison, although technically demanding of kit - it's an area where very high ISO rules, and that means fast glass as well - and that's why it's actually relatively easy to beat away the DIY crowd. Better rewarded, as it's generally full day stuff (often evenings, too), as opposed to the hour or two with the other stuff. Depends on being in a decent location for conferences, of course. I could get a lot more of this if I wanted to, there's quite a lot of this work around. But if I'm honest, I've reached a time of life where quality of life is a lot more important than money, which is why I don't do weddings at all, and so I rather pick and choose from this type of work. If I were young and hungry, this is where I would specialise. But I've learned so much more by working with small businesses - studio lighting and portraiture tips, product photography stuff and so on from a photographic point of view, and lots more about people. Nothing like what I would normally choose to shoot, so it's been fascinating - but definitely work; it's not what I would choose to shoot, so it's not in any way conflicted with the hobby side of my photography. I still struggle internally when it comes to selling landscape prints, though.
  15. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Well I currently have three jobs and one of them is as a photographer. None pay enough on their own to keep us going but I do currently have more photography work than I can really cope with. I mainly do product photography and environmental stuff as well as corporate portraits. We have a fairly heavy concentration of wedding and family photographers in my area so there wouldn't be a lot of point me trying to compete with them but I seem to be a bit of a rarity around here specialising in product stuff so while it doesn't exactly get me all fired up, I do enjoy doing it and I loved going down south last month to photograph a printing factory. People are more fun than stuff.
    Terrywoodenpic and EightBitTony like this.
  16. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    My cousin seems to do pretty well for himself photographing stuff for books and magazines. As well as crowd funding his way around the arctic circle.


    He got there the long way, I believe. Photographer's assistant and worked his way up.
  17. AndyTake2

    AndyTake2 Well-Known Member

    Some good stuff there.
    Assistant to that standard is a good way to go - I think too many people in all the arts expect to just flash into prominence overnight, rather than do it the long way.
    Geren and EightBitTony like this.
  18. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    His commercial and film work is very impressive, especially the natural lighting, every thing shows great attention to detail and a clear vision of what he wants to achieve.
    Any one seeing such work has no confusion with the idea that they could do it themselves on an iphone. This is work worth paying for, and it shouts it from the roof top.
  19. PeteE

    PeteE Well-Known Member

    I have several 'Studio Flashes' - a German 'Multibitz 2 heads' in a heavy case and 3 British Bowens Monolites , 2 given . I used to do all the photos for local Operatic Societies and Theatrical Groups -- B&W 10x8" prints for 'Front of House' Portraits at £ 4.50 a Print and Dress Rehearsals until gone 2300hrs using Colour Neg Film on 35mm for 6x4" Prints which I used to get £1.50 for--- THEN along came DIGITAL and i lost ALL that work to ' a Society member who has a Nikon Coolpix and would do it FREE' -- they thought my prices were expensive. So I saw some 'Front of House Digital Portraits' --- all printed on A4 ' Ordinary Ink Jet Paper' and NO good lighting but as wife said -- " as long as they can see their Face and it is FREE they want it"
    so NO MORE WORK either from all local newspapers -- all Staffers made redundant, had to hand back Company Car and Company Nikon./ Canon and all local Freelancers gone broke.
    Terrywoodenpic likes this.
  20. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    Digital and social media has killed the professional photography that we knew.
    However there is a small but growing market for high quality photography, but it will never keep the bread on the table of as many people as it once did. And suitably skilled photographers are going to exceedingly hard to find, amongst the plethora of untrained semi professionals.
    It will be equally difficult for upcoming photographers to acquire those skills, as all the direct paid routes are blocked by numerous amateur no-hopers, working for free.

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