Photography News issue 25

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Photography News Issue 25

Profoto B1 & B2 Lighting theway With a demanding job that often involves shooting away from a mains power source or on location, Paul Cooper relies on the versatility and power of the Profoto B1 to achieve the pictures he needs

Paul Cooper

When involves photographing top athletes you know your time is going to be limited so your lighting kit needs to be adaptable and quick to set up. Paul Cooper shoots sport for high- end advertising campaigns, and has worked with the likes of the Everton and Lizzie Armistead. His recipe for success is based around the flexibility of Profoto’s B1 and B2 lighting system. What led you into shooting sporting portraits? After shooting editorial for many years, and having a love of sport I realised that my style was suited to sports advertising and I started to shoot sports portraits for campaigns with big sports teams such as Manchester United and Manchester City. I also started to photograph sporting celebrities such as Sir Chris Hoy and Jack Laugher. I like the dramatic lighting you can create for sports portraits, which might not necessarily work if you’re shooting fashion. How do you find the perfect spot for your subject when you arrive? With most sporting celebrities I get just five to ten minutes within which to work if I’m lucky, and it’s quite common for me to have no access to the location until around half an hour beforehand. I always ensure I get there as early as I’m permitted so that I can recce the area for possible locations and consider which lighting set-ups will work. Even then there have been times where a pre-planned slot for the shoot gets pushed back and all the planning goes out the window. So knowing your lights and being able to set up them up quickly is a distinct advantage. What lighting set-ups do you use? My lighting set-ups vary from high key/low key, dramatic/bright and your job

poppy, one light and sometimes up to five lights. It all depends on the person I’m photographing, how much time I have to set up and the mood I want to create. I don’t have set lighting plans; rather they tend to be fluid depending on the situation unless a client has asked for a specific look. My forte is using my ingenuity to create a professional-looking image, ready to change everything around at amoment’s notice should the need dictate. Given the number of people who might be on set I also need to be aware of the potential for distractions and safety issues, and this whole approach has to be geared around getting the job done with the minimum of fuss. Do you usually work alone? Depending on the shoot, I might have an assistant to monitor the

The portability is a massive bonus. When I’m shooting alone, I just attach a battery on the side of the head

workflow as I generally shoot tethered. However, the beauty of the Profoto B1 system is that using the Profoto Air Remote TTL-N for Nikon I can shoot a test shot in TTL if I’m a bit rushed and then change to manual and adjust all the lights from the Air Remote. The portability of the lights is also amassive bonus; in the past we would need to carry heavy packs and there would be cables all over the place, now it’s simply a matter of positioning the light where you want it and moving it if necessary is a breeze. When I am shooting alone, I just grab the light, attach a battery on the side of the head and I’m ready to shoot. With the RFI Speedring, setting up softboxes etc is also super quick, and the beauty dishes have the speedrings attached so it’s just a matter of popping the dish on. What about modifiers? I use Magnum Reflectors, a Zoom Reflector and grids and 6x1 Strip boxes with grids, I also have a silver and a white beauty dish with grids, a 5ft Octa and a 3ft Octa with grids and am adding

some more medium-size softboxes soon. I love the grids: they offer great spill control and allow me to control precisely where the light falls on my subject. I use grids in at least 70% of my shoots. The silver beauty dish is my favourite modifier, as it produces crisp, edgy light that’s perfect for athletes. What is the main advantage of the B1 kit? The B1s are an excellent choice for location and studio. I recently shot an ad in Portugal on a beach in the midday sun, and the lights, combined with the HSS, made it possible to shoot at f/3.5 and 1/1000secandstillobtainasoftout- of-focus background, something that would have otherwise been impossible unless I’d used such things as ND filters. The B1s are also perfect for overpowering the sun; the Profoto HSS is fast enough to keep up with my camera and the lights are ten times as powerful as any speedlight and extremely consistent, which is important for ad shoots.


One of the keys to great photos is lighting. A well-lit photo stands head and shoulders above the rest, giving your work a professional edge. Lighting doesn’t need to be complicated though and with the Profoto B1 and B2 off-camera flash systems, achieving slick expert-level shots is easy. The B1 has completely cordless TTL operation and is ten times as powerful as your average speedlight, making it your go- to flash for on-location shoots. On the other hand, the B2 (shown above) is TTL ready too, can be used both on and off camera and is versatile enough to use as a gentle fill light or as your main light source.

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