Dean Collins on Lighting Hotel Rooms

Regular readers of this site will know that I am a huge fanboy of Dean Collins, who was probably the best lighting instructor their ever was.

And today, we have some new (old) Collins videos today -- on lighting hotel rooms -- inside.

I came across three YouTube clips from one of his "back in the day" lectures at the Brooks Institute. These are not of anything that is available to purchase, and they have been sitting around on YouTube for quite a while. But they do give you an idea of what he was about.

If you like his stuff, there is some excellent stuff available commercially. There are three different DVD sets here, and all are highly recommended. The "Best Of" set is the best, IMO. I cannot recommend that one enough.

But the "Live at Brooks" DVD is also quite good, too. I just re-watched it this weekend. I was just gonna watch a few minutes to refresh, then he had me for the whole hour-and-a-half plus.

(RSS and Email readers, click on the post title to pull up all three vids in order.)

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

As you can see, Dean's hotel room shots are a little more involved than mine are. But even though I am using speedlights, all of the principles are the same.

More information, including two more video clips:

:: Dean Collins at Software Cinema ::
:: Dean Collins at ExpoImaging ::


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Blogger Brad said...

If you are ever in need of a ninja assistant, anywhere, at anytime, I would very happily be that ninja. And then, I could forever say, that I was a Strobist Ninja.

June 02, 2009 12:40 AM  
Anonymous Nigel Walker said...

David, No doubt you've also seen the video clips of Dean on digital, albeit a little dated being from a 1998 video magazine, he talks about the digital image making and stock photos. Interesting stuff and a man that was 'light' years ahead.

June 02, 2009 2:18 AM  
Blogger Vincent said...

THANKS David, Right in time, I am heading out friday to shoot a small hotel. I never put the strobes from uotside to inside, but will now!!

Keep up the great work.

ps just finished Mcnally's hotshoe you are an icon!! I dont know how many times he mentioned you :-)

Regards Vincent

June 02, 2009 3:37 AM  
Blogger Charles Verghese said...

I can see why you like this guy. I had watched a video of him some time back but can't remember where.

So..there were people like you before there were people like you.....

It actually gave me the idea of making a large portable reflector out of PVC pipes...well actually...seeing him assemble a large reflector in a field coupled with my newly ingrained strobist (frm your site obviously) mentality of keeping construction/purchase costs low. Might have to show that on my blog soon.

Again, thanks for sharing. You opened my eyes to a whole new world...and my eyes are getting wider & wider & wider...


June 02, 2009 3:46 AM  
Blogger zhx said...

Holy wow.

June 02, 2009 5:14 AM  
Blogger ahbphotography said...

that was a great post! great to see on video the techniques and thinking behind lighting a hotel room. i wonder how many applicants you would get if you advertised that you were looking for a ninja assistant!? think il have to buy that dvd!

June 02, 2009 7:14 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

Seeing him do a presentation live way up here in Winnipeg was a defining moment. Even his presentation itself was impressive, a 3 or 4 projector show, was amazing!

12 images a day on 4X5 or 8X10 film! That is hardcore. No chimping, just louping B&W polaroids and then shooting big pieces of film!

June 02, 2009 7:28 AM  
Blogger Roger said...

luckily nowadays its much easier to do these shots. Thanks to digital and photoshop.

June 02, 2009 8:48 AM  
Blogger Ed Selby said...

This is relevant to my interests.

I'm off to a South Carolina ocean front hotel next week to (guess what?) - you got it - take pictures of the hotel for their sales and marketing!

I have shot about a dozen hotels so far, but all of them have been budget hotels. This will be my first upper end client. The timing of this blog and Dean's video couldn't have been better!

June 02, 2009 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Boston Photographer-MWynne said...

It is always fun to watch old videos of photographic speakers. Dean Collins videos have a great pace to them. He is one of the better speakers out there. After just finishing up a few years at photo school it is interesting to see the differences in technique.

Thanks for the post.

June 02, 2009 9:18 AM  
Blogger Steven K. Ramsdell said...

I love Dean Collins, slowing him down is a chore though. I often pause his DVD and ponder the things he rapidly spits out.

June 02, 2009 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Philpott said...

Thanks for posting those, David! The first day-long lecture of Dean's was a defining moment for me, as well. I went on to enjoy his presentations at West Coast School at Brooks.

That first day, he opened with what appeared to be a slide of a gray card. Then a bump slowly appeared in the gray card in the succeeding slides. He showed us that it was the lighting which defined the bump... the shadows and highlights. Slowly the bump increased in size, joined by other mounds. Soon it dawned upon all of us that a woman's beautiful face was pushing into the taught gray latex sheet. We indeed wouldn't have been able to discern her features if they hadn't been well lit. What a great start!

Dean was a marvel. Every time I build something with PVC & shower curtain fabric I remember his presentations and his inventiveness.

June 02, 2009 11:13 AM  
Blogger Andy M said...

I had purchased "The Best of" and quite enjoyed it, until I got ""Live at Brooks" and was speechless, imo the most condensed and complete lighting primer available and it's timeless, the presentation itself is a marvel.

Interesting to see these clips never made it to the DVD, which raises the question, why aren't these available commercially?

June 02, 2009 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Chicago photographer said...

Great stuff. I was ready to find those vids a bit dated, but the philosophy behind building up one's light is as relevant now as it was when he made that.

June 02, 2009 12:13 PM  
Blogger Bill Giles said...

I think that I have all of the VHS videos that Dean Collins made, but my favorite has always been the "Live at Brooks Institute" video. I have the "best of" DVD, but all of the rest are VHS. I might try to transfer them to DVD before I run out of working VCRs.

June 02, 2009 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

luckily nowadays its much easier to do these shots. Thanks to digital and photoshop.Nope, not really. Sure, there aren't Polaroids in the equation anymore, and if you screw up mildly you MIGHT be able to fix it in Photoshop.

It still takes time to get these shots right.

June 02, 2009 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Miserere said...


I don't think I've ever laughed so much during an instructional video of any kind, let alone photography; although *you* are quite funny on your DVDs ;-)

I had never heard of Dean, so thank you for introducing him to me. There's a lot to learn here, and I will be taking notes.

June 02, 2009 3:20 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

Thanks alot for pulling these together. I think you have a similar style of communicating, you make things very easy to understand. Cheers again!

June 02, 2009 5:39 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Thanks for this Dave, great lecture.

June 02, 2009 5:54 PM  
Blogger © 2008 howard linton said...

Yeah, Dean was the DEAN to be sure. These videos took me back 20 years to one of his lectures at CCP in Tucson. Not only was he on top of his game but he was approachable as well. I ran into him again in NYC during a photo conference two years later and he joked with me about how the weather in the AZ desert was "high contrast" weather. Even in a subject that was unrelated to photography he could find a photographic connection.
I remember using his term "chromogenic" on a client one time to explain how we could vary the amount of light on the background to get the exact tone of color that she wanted. She was quite impressed.
Sad day when he passed.

June 02, 2009 7:11 PM  
Blogger Zac said...

WOW! Wow, does that take me back to what now seems forever ago! I saw Dean speak and had my own Dean Collins red notebook chocked full of information. He had 12 Hasseblad slide projectors just shooting out images as he would talk non-stop!

Shooting PN55 and Sinar P2's! Thems were the days! It's amazing how much and how little photography has changed, For 30-40 years it stayed basically the same, then in the last 10 years, BAM! all hell broke loose. Thanks for your contributions to learning in the new age and thanks for the flashback!

June 02, 2009 11:16 PM  
Blogger J.R. Farrar said...

I love some of his side jokes that it seems the audience was too wrapped up in trying to understand what he was saying to even catch them. 3 nights in the bar... :-)

June 05, 2009 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a name as big as Dean Collins, I was surprised to find that he has no Wikipedia entry!
I have a video series of his and some tutorial books of his on commercial photography from the 80s, where he looks like he must be 40 tops - so, uh, what happened?

June 05, 2009 3:10 PM  
Blogger Steve Thurow said...

I learned so much at one of his lectures in Denver. He really helped my lighting and B&W printing. His handouts were awesome.

June 06, 2009 8:35 AM  
Blogger soniak said...

Dave- I'm having trouble accessing the vid. Have refreshed browser many times. Could it be a prob on your end? thx

June 08, 2009 4:15 PM  

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