Hannah Couzens Introduction To Studio Lighting Review

Anyone who reads my blogs knows that even as a professional photographer I’m not afraid to put myself on somebody else’s training course if I admire said persons work and I truely believe that I have something to learn from that person. One of the areas I am still looking to develop a style I love for is my studio portrait work, so when I saw that Hannah Couzens had planned a training course, I was one of the first photographers to put my name down to attend.

Hannah is a professional portrait photographer whose work I absolutely love, she does predominantly studio portraits and her lighting setups have always interested me, so this seemed like the perfect chance to go along and learn from her directly.

Hannah greeted me as I arrived at her studio in St Albans, I was one of 4 people in the training group that day and this small group atmosphere ensured that everybody got to know each other and had plenty of time to talk with Hannah and ask her questions throughout the day.

The day started with a little theory about studio lights and how they work, lighting triggers, light metres and the inverse square law. I’d sat through a workshop that was 90% theory covering all this a few months before, however it was good to hear some things reconfirmed and Hannah’s take on certain aspects of it. This theory session didn’t seem to take long though; it was carefully thought through to be informative and beneficial when it came to putting it into practice.

We then looked at the difference between hard and soft light and when they are best used, it was interesting to get a different opinion on situations when hard and soft light is best used. Somewhere down the line I’d got in my head the softer the light the nicer the light, however Hannah showed lots of examples where hard light can be beneficial.

After lunch Hannah then proceeded to go through 5 lighting patterns, demonstrating each of them with our model for the afternoon Lucy Scarfe as she talked us through the fundamentals of each:

  • Broad Lighting
  • Short Lighting
  • Rembrandt Lighting
  • Loop Lighting
  • Split Lighting

I’d heard of each of these before, but seeing Hannah use them in practice and being able to ask questions and photograph them ourselves so we had a reference to take away with us really drummed these into my head.

The afternoon finished with Hannah going through almost every modifier she had in her studio, showing us how she uses them each and every day and giving us the opportunity to try them all out ourselves. From memory, we covered different sized soft boxes, octoboxes, strip boxes, reflectors, beauty dishes and snoots, all of them offering a unique look.

The key with each of them is knowing which modifier to use with which lighting pattern to create the right look and feel for what you are trying to achieve. Hannah seems to have this as a second nature instinct and it may take me a little more time thinking about it and working it out, but I definitely left the course feeling that I had been armed with the knowledge and confidence to go away and start doing these myself.

I absolutely loved this course, it was the right mix of theory and practical and Hannah has a no-nonsense approach to it all, she teaches you from the experience she has gained using all of this in her studio every day and this is invaluable in my opinion.

You can find Hannah’s website at: http://www.hcphotography.co.uk

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