What is “fake” lighting?
The meaning is pretty much said in the title of this article. I absolutely despise all studio lights … when you are shooting outside in daylight. Sorry for the clickbait, you probably thought I was going crazy. A casual stroll through Portland’s Pearl District on a sunny day provides lots of beautiful spots to get portraits. I always see countless photographers hauling these massive studio lights with them when they are shooting with a client outside. Even when the sun is high in the sky and providing adequate scene lighting, I still find it “extra” to bring more lighting. I’m not here to judge and make you feel bad for using external lights. If you feel your work is better with the help of extra lights, then completely ignore what I’m saying and continue doing what you do. But if you are curious to dive into a bit of my philosophy on photography, then stay for the ride.
Why don’t you like it?
I’m going to be blunt about it, I find that if you are in a perfectly illuminated area and still use the fake lights, you are cheating in my eyes. Keyword, my eyes. I’m not here to tell you that it’s wrong to use extra lighting, but if you consider your level of work to be “professional” then I believe you should be able to use your knowledge and experience to manipulate your camera settings to adapt to the given environment. I’m not saying that you aren’t allowed to use lighting at all, I’m simply saying that if the conditions are perfect, you should be able to adapt to your scene if you consider yourself to be at a “professional” level. If the extra lighting helps you get that shadow spot covered, then more power to you. But with today’s technology, it’s so easy to simply take your photo and run it through Photoshop and fix it up. Especially if you are shooting in raw, you will not suffer any decrease in quality if you bump the exposure in post-processing.
Don’t you use external lights?
Ah shoot, you caught me being a hypocrite. All jokes aside, yes I do use external lighting. No that does not make me a hypocrite (well maybe a bit) since I described my original statement with the condition that you have ample sunlight and adequate illumination. If you’re shooting in the dead of night, then you, of course, will need a source of external lighting. I’m not saying that you should avoid using fake lights and go shoot in darkness, but you should have the basic skills to manipulate your camera to best fit the scene.
TL;DR (This is a long article)
I don’t like it when people use more lights when there’s already an abundance of it. You should be able to adapt your camera to the environment provided if you consider yourself to be more “professional”. This excludes nighttime photography.