Models & Popsicles by Gareth Pon

After spending the last couple of years focusing on traveling and being limited by natural light, I was really excited to get back into studio again. With a new refreshed curiosity about how I could control light, to paint and craft what I was looking for, I was excited to re-invent what I’d capture through the lens.

After moving to Chicago, I was excited and inspired to have found broncolor. They were interested in my narrative and before I knew it I was in studio, experimenting, trying and making all the mistakes as I best know how. This led me to find a reason to capture images in a new way.

I like to keep things simple in studio, by taking one idea I can blow out in different ways. I decided to start a series called “Models and Popsicles” where I take photos of, you guessed it – models eating popsicles. There’s a beautiful Paletas shop in my neighborhood called La Michoacana Premium, they make the most amazing paletas from natural ingredients. It gives me a good excuse to visit this store often as I try find the perfect “prop” for my models. Besides, who doesn’t love a popsicle?

My studio is my playground. With four Siros 800 L monolights in my arsenal, I began placing them where I felt they’d give me what I was hoping to capture. One of these lights was paired with a Para 133. This would be my main key light for my model. Second, I placed two gelled lights behind my model – one on either side. Lastly, I placed one gelled light in the rear for my backdrop. I paired this with a large reflector to even out the gradient a bit on the background, then quickly synced all my lights up to bronControl on my iPad and set the dials to what I felt would be appropriate. This would be my first set up, I usually go into a shoot with the intention of doing 2-3 light set ups.

Once I had placed my lights, I consulted with my model, Karlie Thornton. I love to include my models in the creative process and embrace a collaborative approach to how I shoot. I let her know that I was planning on shooting with gels and I asked what the best colors are for darker skin tones. She simply replied, ”In the moonlight, black skin turns blue.” and then continued to suggest how reds and purples work really well on darker skin.

I continued to switch up my gels and setup two additional times. My usual process involves having all my lights set up for my first scene and then I switch things up by removing lights until I have only one light on my subject. As I removed lights, I was left with one light paired with my Para 133. I flagged off half the Para so I could control how the light fell on Karlie’s face and hair. The result was great, I had nice even lighting across her face and as an added effect I threw in some atmosphere to bring a bit of drama to the scene. This time around Karlie’s expressions were more reserved, the scene felt golden.

After playing around in studio I always feel liberated, I like to compare it to that feeling you get when you finish a Lego construction for the very first time. There’s a sense of fulfillment but you’re also really excited to move to the next one. In the future, I’ll be doing a lot more research on how certain colors work better with different skin tones. I think finding the perfect pairing is really what made me love the results of this shoot.

Chicago-based photographer Gareth Pon is a cross-cultural world traveler. He has worked with numerous brands, agencies and pioneers the use of Digital Content as a medium for creative expression in branding, marketing and documentation. He dreams of one day fulfilling his ultimate dream of going to space to capture a photo of the Earth’s curvature in zero gravity. Follow him at @garethpon