Strobist Turns One

One year ago tonight, I posted the first reference to a new experiment of a lighting blog, Strobist, on a photo message board. What began as a little online notebook to keep track of my thoughts on small-flash lighting has grown into something way beyond what I ever expected.

Through March of 2006, I put together much of the Lighting 101 posts, and a couple of On Assignments. Actually, I made pretty good time because I was home sick for a several days during the month. And in checking my grammar and spelling on those early posts (not great under the best of circumstances) it should not surprise you to find out that much of it was written under the influence of drugs.

Hey, if Edgar Allen Poe can write on opium and booze, I can do it on Thera-Flu.

On April 5th of 2006, I was in Ocean City, Maryland on an assignment to follow the Miss USA contestants. The pageant was to be held soon in Baltimore, and they assigned me to follow around the whole herd of unnaturally perky gals for a couple of weeks.

Tough job, to be sure. But someone had to do it.

Late at night, I sat down in my hotel room with my laptop and a slowish cell phone internet connection and made the first-ever mentions of Strobist on a couple of photo message boards. After a month of cranking out posts, I felt like I had enough to light this thing up and see if it would fizz. Pathetically, I back-dated my first post to February 28 because the thought of having just March and April in the archives list looked so newb.

The year that has gone by since has left me totally dumbfounded at what has happened with the site. I have watched as a whole community has formed around the idea of cool light from cheap little flashes. I have seen so many people grow their creativity and skills - and meet other like-minded photographers.

I have been gratified to see people with little-to-no previous flash skills blossom into kickass lighting photographers. And every month brings more and more people into our little nonexclusive lighting geek club.

My own skills and creative thought processes have grown significantly as a result of being at the receiving and of so many great ideas from so many different readers. Ideas are the rare commodity in this business, and I find that I have far too many to try at any given time. And that totally rocks.

Most of all, I have enjoyed meeting so many people - both online and in person - and hearing so many stories about how discovering light has changed their photography for the better. That makes me feel great.

I have no idea what the future may hold, or how long I can keep up the harried pace of shooting full time and driving this sometimes out-of-control train. But I can tell you I plan to keep going and to see where it takes us. So far it has been too interesting to stop.

Thanks for a wonderful, caffeine-laced, sleep-deprived mind-expanding year. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings.

And because I know you too well, click here for the lighting dope.


Brand new to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
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Anonymous Josh McCullock said...

great work, thanks for sharing your experience with us all over the past year!

April 05, 2007 11:27 PM  
Anonymous patrick said...

Happy birthday Strobist!! My near daily read.

Seriously I'm glad you put this blog up. So much so I've shared it with all my photographer friends, but I don't think they "get it" yet -- that less is more.

April 05, 2007 11:33 PM  
Anonymous BWJones said...

What do I think? Thank you for this resource is what I think. I have fought with the concept of using a strobe for years, preferring instead to use the naturally available light for all my work pushing me into ever faster (and more expensive) glass. However, this site helped to push me over the edge into exploring flash and supplemental light photography.

Thanks again.

April 05, 2007 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's help me so much on learning photography especially lighting (small flash), u're on my default browser.

April 06, 2007 12:01 AM  
Blogger Don Sweener said...

Is it time to put together a Strobist WoodStock? Should all of us make a trip to some place where we can all meet share ideas and gadgets. Wouldn't be great if we could have it sponsored by manufacturers of the products we use. I here the Berkshires in Ma is beautiful in the summertime. Hmmm? Build it and they will come.......

April 06, 2007 12:21 AM  
Anonymous joeadnan said...

Just wondering if, in coming up with the "Strobist", you considered the name "Flasher" at all?

April 06, 2007 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Mark Sirota said...

You're welcome. And Happy Birthday.

I had just begun to experiment with off-camera flash when I discovered Strobist in early May 2006. I think I first heard about it on, but I'm not certain.

Since then, I've pretty much stopped trying to find good light, and instead have been trying to make good light, often in concert with the light I find. It's a major paradigm shift that goes down to the core of the way I approach my photography.

And as I believe that good communities are built on active participation, I've tried hard to be both a consumer and provider of information here. More the former than the latter, though.

So while I began this note saying you're welcome, what I really mean in thank you -- both to you, David, and to the other participants.

April 06, 2007 12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG, it has only been a year! Seriously I am blown away by that. This has become the best "many times a day read" for me by far. I have learned so much from you and the great folks that contribute to the group.

Here is to continuing this fantastic resource, my pictures will never be the same! Thank you!

April 06, 2007 12:35 AM  
Anonymous chip said...

I guess I'm the only one who clicked the miss usa pic, very funny!

April 06, 2007 12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well sir. Thank you so much for your work. Really appreciate the effort you have and do put in.

Class act.


April 06, 2007 1:05 AM  
Blogger Kolonay said...

I think it's safe to say that we can't thank you enough :)

I've been proofing images all night for my first ever show, and wow what a difference Strobist has made to my work!

Thank you so much for all the work. I hope to see this train carry on. Nowhere to go but forward!

April 06, 2007 1:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your hard work!

April 06, 2007 1:26 AM  
Blogger geodesigner said...

I've been a reader since last August, and have enjoyed every entry. Thanks for doing your awesome job Dave, I hope Strobist keeps on growing each day and mantains its excellent quality for years to come. Whenever your eventual Strobist best-selling book comes out or you decide to do a course here in Brazil, I'll be the first to join.

Happy birthday, Strobist!

BTW, excellent anniversary photo.

April 06, 2007 1:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should be thanking you...........your site is on my "favorite" list. I read it every day........THANKS AGAIN and I'm looking forward to the months ahead.

April 06, 2007 2:23 AM  
Blogger BVerhoeven said...

Great work, David. Congratulations!
I have become a Strobist junkie reading the site at least once a day and just started to gather Strobist stuff.
Please keep on going.

April 06, 2007 2:24 AM  
Blogger keith said...

I'm simply dumbfounded how much time, energy, and thought you put into this page. Thank you,(and your family for your time)and stop being so modest about your writing skills. I feel as if I know you, and would count you as a friend if we met, just by reading this blog.

April 06, 2007 2:33 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

This is the only website I look at every day without fail. And I guess I can't say more than that...

April 06, 2007 4:23 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Awesome - I found your blog back in April I think last year, from a dpreview thread. I've ben hooked ever since. Despite not owning anything more than 1 flash and an off camera shoe cord, I played a bit for ten months... In the last two months I've bought another two flash guns and really started doing lighting press-ups to get me in shape. Thanks so much for all your hard work. Keep it up squire. I'm told there's a book in all of us. Maybe it's time for you to think about yours?

April 06, 2007 5:47 AM  
Anonymous matthew said...

Congratulations, David. The site and community you created are a fantastic achievement. In the past year, I've had loads of inspiration and education, but little time to put it all into practice. Just enough time to do some Strobist-style shots of clients for my company's web site, which was fun to do and saved me some cash too. Thanks, and may the second year be great for everyone involved.

April 06, 2007 5:54 AM  
Blogger Danny said...

A recent study shows that the blog world is on a standstill and who know how many blog sites are now considered "ghost".

However, your blog site is unique in a sense that it adheres to very core of how the internet came inform, share, entertain, challenge..

Visiting your site has become part of my daily ritual.

Thanks for bringing up the blog site and more power!

April 06, 2007 6:46 AM  
Blogger Antti said...

Congratz on the birthday. Thank you for all the work you've put into it. It has make a huge different to my photography hobby.

I first run into the blog sometime last fall, read "101" and "on assignment" and been hooked for ever since.


April 06, 2007 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Philg364 said...

Sb-26 on ebay: $100

vari-power adapter for my Vivitar 283: $20

Light stand, umbrella, spaghetti box snoot, velcro, cardboard, tissue paper, rubber bands, ebay trigger, alcohol bottle diffuser: $120

Learning to think like a Strobist: Priceless.

Thanks, David, and congratulations on a great site! Regards, Phil

April 06, 2007 8:26 AM  
Anonymous tessler65 said...

Not only did I learn off-camera lighting from you, I learned more about how to use my camera in manual mode than from anything else I'd read anywhere else. Now, my camera is rarely out of "M" mode and I'm loving every minute of it. Every photo shoot I do, whether it's with strobes or ambient, I learn more about how to control the light and get awesome shots as a result.

Thank you.

April 06, 2007 8:58 AM  
Blogger J.George said...

Thanks, David. I remember being worried when you wrote that you would cut back on your Strobist postings, although you already had put up enough meat with your Lighting 101 and On Assignment sections to keep us chewing on ideas for a long time. Glad to see, however, that you're still enjoying this train ride. Happy birthday (and Barbie was a cruel late April Fool's joke)

April 06, 2007 9:15 AM  
Blogger Kirk said...

David, I've been reading your stuff for a while now, pushing me from considering expensive on-Camera flash to supplement my available light paradigm. So often I've left my gear behind... simply because there was not enough light. I'm still an amateur at this, having my new Mpex bought Strobist kit for now closing in on something like 2.5 days. But what a difference all the concepts you've brilliantly or should I say, virally imparted to us.

It's a labour of love, but seriously even if you don't post almost every day, we'd still be here, in active discussions and learning from each other. You're right it has taken on a life of its own, but you don't always have to be at the helm either.. you know the whole balance with photography and the rest of life. You can get some people who have evolved in their skills to also write posts for the edification of all.

Again, from the entire Strobist community, the newbies like myself and the stalwarts all the same, thank you!

April 06, 2007 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Tom said...

I found strobist in November of this and have checked back more then daily everytime since. It has certainly made be a better photographer.

David thank you and your family for everything.


Tampa Bay Photographer

April 06, 2007 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been reading since the end of your first month, and have stopped in at least once every two days to look for updates - religiously. Great stuff, man, and ever so helpful on the editorial shoots I get assigned - can't thank you enough.

Happy birthday,!

Also, laughing my ass off on the Barbi link.

-Cappy5511 (Chris)

April 06, 2007 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Michael G said...

A friend mentioned your site to me last fall. Since then you've provided me a tuition-free education in off-camera lighting (SB's, lightstands, and umbrellas extra, of course). I still delve into the archives to pick up ideas and mention your site to other photographers.

Thanks, Dave, for sharing what you've learned. It may be's birthday but you've been giving us gifts all year.


Michael (flickr: Webhound)

April 06, 2007 11:26 AM  
Blogger Fil Hunter said...

All of this praise is appropriate and deserved, but it needs to be flavored with a little criticism: why does David frequently complain that he doesn't write well when he does? Probably a scar left by his second-grade teacher who is, hopefully, in an appropriate incinerator by now.

April 06, 2007 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Earl said...

A while back, a friend recommended I have a look and the Strobist. This really is a great site. Good, fairly easy to digest information and an active community. Good content generates good site traffic. While I've only started "fooling around" with this off camera lighting stuff, I am starting to see the possibilities. Thanks for your hard work!

April 06, 2007 12:01 PM  
Blogger carpeicthus said...

Happy birthday, Strobist! What you have done with instruction and the community energy is amazing. Can't wait to see what the second year holds.

April 06, 2007 12:11 PM  
Blogger Patrick Smith said...

Congrats, man. I've learn a lot this far, I hope to continue to learn. PS. Nice image and I love the link to! hahahahah

April 06, 2007 12:14 PM  
Blogger Fabio said...

happy b-day! may the liht be with you!
cheers from Costa Rica.

April 06, 2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

Great blog and writing. You had me cracking up sometimes, especially the sensor cleaning bit: "Don't be a “guy” about this. These instructions are there for your protection. This is not something you can just breeze through like, say, birth control. THIS IS YOUR SENSOR." Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. I knew absolutely nothing about lighting until I started reading this site. I'd probably still be putting the flash on camera! Now, whenever I go shooting, I grab a flash and a stand out of my bag before I even take my camera out.

April 06, 2007 12:28 PM  
Blogger Natasha said...

Happy Birthday!

April 06, 2007 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Lee B said...

dude. kurt cobain gave me the inspiration to sing in a band. you've given me the inspiration to shoot.

thanks for bringing putting some rock and roll into my photography

April 06, 2007 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Paul Morton said...

All I can say is THANK YOU! I have been addicted to Strobist since the day I heard about it. I have read every post and it has made me a better photog. The funny thing is I have had 3 SB-26s for years. I always wanted to figure out a way to use them off the camera(even though my camera-savvy friends always looked at me funny about that). But I didn't even know how use them manually until Strobist--on-camera, "automatic," TTL was a crutch. Now I am making the pics I want, in less time, and they are better than ever. Did I say THANK YOU!?

April 06, 2007 1:08 PM  
Blogger Ethan said...

Been a great year. Thanks so much for everything you put into this blog.

April 06, 2007 2:06 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Happy birthday! Thanks a lot for your company! (Please extend our thanks to your family too)


April 06, 2007 2:14 PM  
Blogger aTanguay said...

Thanks David for an incredible site.

I was referred to Strobist in the nick of time. I had an assignment shooting a large roller derby team and was very nervous about whether my idea of using a small Vivitar flash or two was going to work. A friend referred me and I was up til 2am just gobbling the site up and figuring out what I needed to get. The shot exceeded everyone's wildest dreams.

Since then I've refined my gear and continue to play and learn, but at least I know I'm on the right track.

I'm shocked to find I went from someone who hated all flashes with a passion, to someone who knows they can be incredible tools.

April 06, 2007 2:18 PM  
Blogger Sebastian Czapnik said...

A year might seem to be a short time, yet so much can happen. I've found that place only recently, I'm one of those inspired by your "off-camera flash". Moreover, I decided to set up my own online diary :)

Keep up the good work and once more thanks for the inspiration!

April 06, 2007 2:53 PM  
Blogger Rafa Barberá said...

Congratulations David and obviously you deserve a very big THANK YOU!. I'm one of this light-deprived aficionado that in this last year have learned to use the light to popup my photos.

Now, with one year of Strobist in my back I can say that this was an exciting year!. Reading each morning your entries in this blog.... yes, you almost keep that peace the first six months. And then... the big surprise, the Strobist Bootcamp in the summer. Wow, this was a wonderful year for all of us, your readers. Thank you very much for this interesting and exciting year... and please, excuse us to your wife and sons. Sometimes we take away from them so much time :).

Keep up with your good job... and thank you!

April 06, 2007 3:24 PM  
Blogger Jez Graham said...

I found strobist a fortnight ago and about as noob as you can get, but I'm learning fast and enjoying every moment.


April 06, 2007 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Mark Finkenstaedt said...

Strobist has spread so far that one mention and everyone I know has said " yea, Love the Strobist!"
Making smiles all over the place.
Unfortuantely, I'll probably always lug all the gear and dream of a lighter happier healthy back way of life.

I'm amazed every posting.

April 06, 2007 5:40 PM  
Anonymous James Lafferty said...

Your page is my default in Safari, so I check it every day. The stream here is one of the best learning tools a budding photography-lover-turned-aspiring-pro could hope for. Sites like this restore my faith in the power of the internet, and people in general.

Thank you for your hard work, time, generosity, candor, and personable attitude, David. All the best to you, your family, and keeping this site alive!


- jim

April 06, 2007 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in burnout mode after working 15 years as a newspaper photographer. I’m having more fun than ever lighting boring person with object stories. I try to grab some of the dull assignments just to try something new with my strobes. It’s new challenge every day and best of all the strobe equipment ideas are minimal in cost. I now carry a stand, umbrella, three flashes, and mini slave. I have made a few light clamps along with a snoot. I hope to upgrade from cheap eBay radio slaves to the pocket wizards soon. Your web site has given me a lift at a time where the next person at desk assignment could have been my last.

I deposit less and less in the swear jar each day as I travel between assignments because of your web site.

Keep up the good work.


April 06, 2007 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Strobist!

May your flash be always charged and ready with a pocket wizard!

The biggest thing for me is that you've helped to get over the fear of flashing, and now I'm learning to 'love the flash.'

I don't get to employ Strobist tactics often right now, but hope to be able to use them more often as I improve.


And and as others have said, pass the thanks on to the family, as they have been very kind to share you with us.


April 06, 2007 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I clicked on the Miss USA for a closer look at the photo only to find a link to the Barbie website. No fair! Anyway ... Happy anniv!

April 06, 2007 5:55 PM  
Blogger Jeff's Photo Blog said...

Thanks for the year. I have never grown more photographically in one year.

April 06, 2007 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, I'm a travel photographer who most certainly hates travelling heavy -- you know what I mean. Thanks to you, I'm now travelling with slightly more gear but a much richer palate on which to paint with light. What I've sacrificed in toiletries and changes of clothes, I've made up with shots that I would not have thought possible before. Just don't get too close to me at the end of an assignment!

Congratulations on your anniversary and much thanks to you and your family -- as others here have so thoughtfully mentioned.

April 06, 2007 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Edo Tsoar said...

THANK YOU and congratulations, (me) having joined only a few months ago i thoght this was going on for years...
I would like to thank David for the countless hours he is spending on creating this wonderfull web page. The Strobist web page has taught me so much, improved my images and enabled me to create a new style. I would be happy to pre register for any Los Angeles work shop coming up.


April 06, 2007 10:47 PM  
Blogger AG said...

Thanks a million, David, and congratulations on's turning 1! Strobist has been a favorite read from the first day I heard about it (just imagine how many people spend sleepless nights after a new post goes up). Tons of ideas and great interaction make this one beaming community! Who knows what the next year will bring... can't wait! Cheers!

April 06, 2007 11:20 PM  
Blogger SoulJah said...

I've changed my approach to photography when I read your site. As soon as I finished reading your Lighting 101, I immediately ordered all the items you've recommended.

Thanks for keeping up a great and informative site.

April 06, 2007 11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic site!

I know you are really busy, but have you considered pulling all of this great info together into a book? I'd love to be able to read this on the train. Or perhaps an eBook with a required donation (though a print book would be much nicer.)

April 07, 2007 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anthony said...


Thanks again for your time and your willingness to share your knowledge.


April 07, 2007 10:42 AM  
Blogger Gordon said...

Happy Birthday Strobist!

Congrats and Thank You for such a valuable resource.

April 07, 2007 11:33 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

Congratulations, David!

You gave a lot of photographers a new spark of light into their lenses.

Excellent blog! I learned more than from any book.

April 07, 2007 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Udi said...

David, Thanks a zillion for the effort and two thumbs up for sharing.
You know, my baby started walking when she was one. You should see her running now. If this is what you do for one - I can't wait to see the running and jumping you'll do by the second birthday.

April 07, 2007 3:37 PM  
Blogger Ronmann said...


Thanks for your inspiring dedication in providing an absolutely vibrant community on lighting. Especially thank you for sharing the McGyver Method! I am constantly amazed at the simplicity of technique that you use to get stunning images.

I look forward to the next year!

April 07, 2007 11:27 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Congratulations David! Thanks for all the wonderful knowledge you have shared! It has truly changed the way I look at flash photography. I have been visiting regularly from the early days and I have learnt so much yet I don't even think I've scratched the surface. I was surprised it was only a year!

Keep up the great work! :)


April 08, 2007 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Stephen '73 said...

From a fellow UF grad, I am very impressed by your creativity, talent, ingenuity, and clarity. I have been shooting for 35 years and never realized as much about lighting as I did after reading 101...and not even to mention the skills of the contributors...thank you and your very tolerant family for your inspiration.

April 09, 2007 2:59 PM  
Blogger E-500 said...

Strobist + Light Science & Magic = AWESOME!!!
Thanks for your incredible efforts (i'll thank the guys behind LS&M separately)
Congrats on the first year.

August 10, 2007 5:39 AM  

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