When I completed Strobist as a project in 2021, I promised to check back in when I had something worth sharing. Today, I’m announcing my new book, The Traveling Photographer’s Manifesto, which seeks to do for traveling photographers what Strobist always tried to do for lighting photographers.

Thanks for giving it a look—and for your comments and feedback.

BC3 Assignment #1: Profile

Welcome to the first assignment of Boot Camp 3. While this is of course a lighting boot camp, the light itself will be secondary to the photos. And the photos will be secondary to the purpose.

The purpose for BC3 will be to force you out into you community in search of well-crafted photos that actually have something to say about your community.

The First Assignment

Assignment number one is both simple and difficult. Simple in that its physical subject matter is a person. Specifically, the assignment is for a tight portrait. One that could be used as a cover image or perhaps a full-page inside lede.

But difficult in that you actually need to find and reach out to someone relevant to your community and photograph them. Someone who makes the community more interesting, or might have a story to tell. Someone who merits the thought that goes into a quality photo.

You'll have to work fast, because the deadline is 12 days from now. Which means that you should ID someone (and a fallback, probably) pretty darn ASAP. You'll need to secure permission to shoot them, find a location, photograph them and turn in the photo before deadline. (More details below.)

Put some thought into your subject. It might be a community leader. (But don't aim too high -- they might be harder to schedule). Or a performing artist. Or a worker who sends most of their income to support their family in another country. Or someone at a local startup. Or a local craftsperson.

Figuring out who to shoot will be difficult, if only because the clock is running. Maybe harder yet will be approaching them with what is basically a cold call or email. If you are totally clueless about the latter, here is an example:
"Hi. My name is [scared-to-death photographer]. I am participating in a world-wide photo project this summer. This month's assignment is to photograph someone interesting and relevant to my community, and I thought of you. [Maybe tell them why, too.]

I'd very grateful if you could help me by sitting for a photo, and [optional, if you want] I'd be happy to let you have a copy of the final image for your personal use. My deadline is [maybe fudge this forward a day or two for safety] so time is of the essence. I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you very much,


Some Visual Tips

Less is more. Think simple. Think clean, relevant background. With regard to excess content, if it is not helping your photo it is hurting your photo. As for lighting: yes, this is about lighting, but that needs to happen in the back of your mind so you can concentrate on what is important. Think composition, pose, interaction, gesture, rapport, etc. -- create a moment.

Speaking of lighting, you are required to use a minimum of one strobe and a maximum of two. You can use speedlights or, if you use big lights they should be on low enough power so the photo could have been accomplished with speedlights. I.e., Don't do something that requires sun-nuking power. This limitation will give you lots of possibilities, yet keep things technically pretty simple.

Two speedlights is a powerful kit for close portraiture. All of the following are examples of tight portraits which were done with one or two speedlights (or big lights on low power). Posts open in a new window or tab:

Blind Snoot Portrait
Women's Lacrosse Cover
Author Manil Suri (Top picture)
Soprano Erin Holmes
Blogger Sian Meades
Conference Room Quickie

Just some examples, if you are thinking two small lights is very limiting. But remember, the lighting is just a tool. This is not a "hey, look at my lighting" boot camp. The lighting serves the photo and the photo serves the purpose. Which is to inform about a facet of your community.

How To Submit

The deadline is Saturday, July 9th, 1700 hours GMT. (That's noon Eastern in the US.)

Very important: When you shoot your photo session, also shoot one frame of your subject touching their nose with their forefinger. Hold onto this "code" shot but do not turn it in. If you win, you may be asked to produce this image to show that your shot was not made prior to today.

To submit your photo, you will need to be on Flickr and in the Strobist Group. Tag your photo with the tag "BC31" (do not use the quotes). Submit your photo into the Strobist group. Caption the picture (Who are they, why did you choose them) and (very important) also include lighting information in the caption. Enter only one photo. Please do not tag any other photos BC31 or include that word in the caption or title, so extra photos will not show up in the search.

You can see your submissions and those of others here.

If you have trouble with submitting, tagging, your photo not showing up, please reread the BC3 Introduction Post for help.

Want to discuss it? Trade ideas? Get peer feedback? The BC31 discussion thread is here. And to not split the discussion into two locations, I am closing comments on this post.

Remember, the winner for this assignment gets his or her choice of Lighting in Layers Boxed DVD Set or a LumoPro LP160 speedlight.

Good luck!


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