Pictured: Bringing old Hollywood to life on location in California’s Angeles National Forest.
TURNING CHALLENGES INTO
AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE
ENHANCE AVAILABLE LIGHT. A great
way to add depth and texture to a photo
is by utilizing practical lighting whenever
possible, such as a simple table lamp
or neon sign. I will then bring in my own
sources in to imitate what the practicals
are doing and enhance the mood.
BOUNCING SAVES THE DAY! Whether
it’s one subject or multiple, bouncing
a light off a white ceiling or card often
gives me that extra quick “pop” that I
need without requiring too much setup
time or space if in a tight location.
LIGHT SHOULD KISS THE SUBJECT. I
was once told this great piece of advice,
and I find that the most impactful photos
are the ones where the lighting is subtle
and becomes the soundtrack to the work.
STUDY AND EXPERIMENT. Really take
the time to find images with lighting
you’re drawn to, and break down how
you think it was done. Then, test it! I’m
always shooting tests when not on a
commissioned project. It’s my favorite
stress-free way to take whatever time I
need to really learn my craft.
WITH LARGE UMBRELLA
BEHIND THE SCENES
To learn more about the Profoto B2 light, please visit
profoto.com, and follow @profotousa on Instagram.
See more from Fiorella Occhipinti at fiography.com
and @fiorella_occhipinti on Instagram.
THIS IMAGE, FROM A
SHOT FOR ELEGANT
MAGAZINE, began as
a simple assignment
to shoot portraits of
models Brielle and Jake
together. After seeing
some of the reference photos for the shoot, I thought
we could do something bigger. I pitched the theme
“old Hollywood” meets Shakespeare’s A Midsummer
Night’s Dream, and the story became a glimpse into
the on-set life of two young actors falling in love and
going their separate ways once the film wraps. I
decided to name the series “Welcome and Farewell,”
after the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe poem.
The shoot took place in the Chantry Flat area of
Angeles National Forest in California. There was
lots of ambient light present, with patches of direct
sunlight, areas with dappled lighting and a good bit
of shade. The difficult part was trying to get a variety
of backgrounds so that the series wouldn’t feel too
repetitive. I wanted each photo to have its own story,
so changing the costumes, props and the backdrop
was crucial. We wanted the editorial to evoke the
sense of passage of time.
Lighting was a really big part of the shoot, so after
scouting the location, I planned out the particular
times of day to shoot each setup. Because this
photograph was such a cinematic, important moment
in the story, I scheduled it to be the last shot of the
day so we could shoot during the golden hour. I
wanted to make sure that the lighting was soft and
To achieve the cinematic effect, I backlit the
subjects using a vintage studio light, adding a good
amount of haze and allowing the lamp to flare the
lens. Everything around the subjects was soft, so
my key light had to feel subtle. The key light was
a Profoto B2 with a large umbrella and diffusion,
placed about 7 feet away and at a 90-degree angle
in relation to the camera, and the backlight was a
tungsten fresnel about 10 feet behind the talent. We
also put a full CTO gel on the Profoto B2 so both of
the light’s temperatures would match.
Every lighting circumstance can be so different,
and it’s very important to know what situation
you’re getting into before the shoot so you can plan
accordingly. If I’m outside and there’s no chance for
shade or diffusion, I generally prefer to shoot with
the sun as the backlight. There are a few shots in
this editorial that have a combination of natural sun
as the backlight, and the Profoto B2 as the key. I’m
really big on experimenting, so I definitely like to
change things up and challenge myself with lighting.
Some of my favorite shoots have come from some
sort of lighting experiment.
Cinematic lighting is always an inspiration of mine.
I love blending fashion and filmmaking aesthetics,
always striving to bring a deeper level of storytelling
to my work, as well as a bit of motion into the still
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