Posts – Trayvon Martin’s Legacy Lives On

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©, Kawai-Matthews 2013

Over the past couple of months, you may have noticed a trend all over the Internet—images of people wearing a white t-shirt with a picture of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. After one of the biggest trials of this decade so far, the verdict only added fuel to the fire of debate and opinion. Kawai Matthews, who was in favor of convicting George Zimmerman, is the photographer for the One Million People United for Change Campaign, dedicated to raising awareness to all kinds of racial, ethnic and gender inequalities. Resource caught up with Matthews to learn more about how the tragic event shaped her, her experience in the campaign and how she gets the most out of her Broncolor equipment.

©, Kawai-Matthews 2013


Tell us a little bit about your history—what made you want to get into photography?

My first introduction into photography came in high school. My 11th grade year I decided to take a B&W photography class and join the yearbook. I learned about the art of photography—how to roll film, develop it and make prints. I fell in love with it. I could create and tell a visual story all on my own. I enjoyed the solitude and the focus it took to get from point A to Z.

©, Kawai-Matthews 2013

How did you get involved in

My friend Jason Lee reached out to me the day the Zimmerman verdict was delivered. A lot of people were outraged and Jason felt like he needed to do something positive to shine a light on something he felt was unjust. I was just walking out of the movie “Fruitvale Station” when he called me. That movie sort of parallels Trayvon’s story: it’s about an unarmed young man who was shot and killed. I still had tears in my eyes when Jason called me. He rambled off a couple of words about Trayvon Martin’s family and the Zimmerman verdict, then asked me if I’d be the official photographer for a campaign he was starting up. Before he could finish, I said yes. He was planning to design a themed t-shirt and wanted me to create a signature look and lighting style for a portrait series that would feature celebrities, music artists and other influencers in the entertainment industry. They would wear the t-shirt in support of the campaign’s cause. Both Jason and I have strong connections and relationships in Hollywood, so the angle was to invite out notable musicians, actors, models and executives to be part of the campaign. The response was amazing. The shirts were a hit. The social media impact was huge.

©, Kawai-Matthews 2013

How does it feel to have your work be shown in the context of one of the most controversial events in recent years?

Controversy isn’t what I would normally want to be associated with, but for me this movement isn’t about controversy. It is about oneness. It is about humanity. It is about using my energy, my creativity and my resources to communicate a positive message—to make a powerful impact. Whether you agree with the verdict or not, this campaign demonstrates how art and community can intertwine for a greater cause.

©, Kawai-Matthews 2013

I understand that you pretty much shoot using exclusively Broncolor products. What kind of Broncolor gear do you use?

I love all of Broncolor’s gear. For this campaign, I used the A2 Senso Strobe Packs 1,200 W/s with 3 litos lampheads. It was a simple 3-light setup with a white wall as our background. For my key light, I used a silver octobank, my second head had a standard zoom reflector, while my third head had an umbrella with a white interior. The A2 Senso Strobe Pack comes with a pretty cool, travel-friendly carrying case, so it made my trip to photograph the family in Florida a lot easier. I didn’t have to check my Broncolor gear, which calmed my nerves about anything being mishandled, stolen or broken. I carried it right onto the plane and it fit in the overhead bin with no hassle—I still slept with one eye open though!

©, Kawai-Matthews 2013

Why Broncolor?

The quality of light is top-notch and the product design is so incredibly cool. My A2 Senso Packs are very easy to use, compact and stress-free when it comes to transport and durability. Broncolor is quality-focused and they’ve got to be the most innovative lighting equipment company out there, continually improving their products and creating fabulous new ones that no one else can duplicate. They’re in a class of their own, making it hard to go with anyone else.

©, Kawai-Matthews 2013

How do you get the most out of your gear?

By taking care of it! No really, I get the most out of my gear by learning and understanding it—which means reading my manual first. Most importantly, I’ve got to experiment. Push the gear and push myself. I have to TRUST my gear first; then I can see what kind of creativity sprouts from my artistic inspirations. I like to try new, fresh lighting ideas. The more I shoot with, play around and test my gear, the better my relationship with it. I’ll still have technical issues, but it’s nothing a little troubleshooting and prayer can’t fix.

©, Kawai Matthews 2013

Andre Rowe’s Take on: Broncolor P-Soft vs. Broncolor Beauty Dish

Andre Rowe, a professional photographer based out of Miami, Florida, and an avid broncolor user describes the difference between the broncolor P-Soft and the broncolor Beauty Dish:

“So, you’re about to purchase a white Beauty Dish and you pause a moment in debate as to whether to get it or a silver P-Soft. You’ve seen the broncolor P-Soft in the catalogs, and you’ve heard that some people use it; however, most people prefer a Beauty Dish. As a result, you are convinced that the Beauty Dish is the way to go. But is it really?

‘What is the difference between them, and why would I want to get the silver P-Soft instead of a more widely popular white Beauty Dish?’

Well my friend, the answer is simple…get both, and here’s why:

When you think about a modifier that creates a really nice and evenly spread soft light, you tend to be drawn more readily to softboxes and beauty dishes for that purpose. A beauty dish, with or without a front diffuser, will certainly satisfy your needs in the soft light department, of which there is no argument. Beauty dishes are friendly to handle, are easily portable, and can be used in most lighting set-ups with little conflict to the overall lighting concept. Beauty Dishes also live up to their names by producing the most flattering light on people bringing them closer to a state of ‘beauty.’

Photo courtesy of Andre Rowe

So, where does the broncolor P-Soft fit into the picture?

If I may start out this way, I’d enlighten you to the fact that the silver P-Soft is a sort of hybrid silver reflector (like the P70, P65, P45, etc.) crossed with a Beauty Dish. The P-Soft carries the EXACT same benefits as listed above especially when used with the optional diffuser. What makes the P-SOFT so special is that well above it’s similar traits to a Beauty Dish, the P-Soft can actually do more. Just as mentioned, it carries with it some of the traits of a silver reflector offering more textural detail on your subjects, crispness that fails to be harsh, a noticeable distinction in the character of light, and a natural ability to blend with sunlight. Now, the last point is worth discussing a little. I have used my share of Beauty Dishes on location, multiple Beauty Dishes in fact, and I have always come to the same conclusions:

1.) I positively LOVE the light and it’s soft edge and overall appearance on the skin of my subjects , however its look is not terribly “natural” looking in open sunlight.

2.) I have to use, what I believe to be, “far too much” power to get the working shutter speed/ f-stop combinations that I need.

3.) My “working distance” is somewhat compromised in most situations. Working distance is the relationship between the lampheads and the subject along with their placement in the scene. Ideally, one would prefer a wide separation of lights and subject so as to permit wider-angle shots to be possible.

4.) The further away that I place by Beauty Dish, the less effective it remains as a soft light source (in the outdoors).

With the broncolor P-Soft, I am able to address the above issues with greater confidence. The P-Soft has a more defined edge to the light that better mimics sunlight as it falls onto my subject (although not quite 100%). As a result, the transition of light between lamphead and sunlight seem noticeably more “natural.” With the P-Soft, I can use the lamphead further away from my subject, compared to a Beauty Dish, and achieve similar shutter speed/ f-stop combinations utilizing less power. Lastly, The P-Soft offers a wonderful sense of “realism” to a subject that isn’t readily achievable by a way of a Beauty Dish.”


Photo courtesy of Andre Rowe


More About Andre Rowe:

Andre is a local commercial photographer with over twenty years of experience that he wishes to share with and inspire novice, student and amateur photographers. Appleseed is the creation of Andre Rowe. The goal of Appleseed is to provide a work-ready space for photographers and videographers alike by presenting an environment for education, networking and the cultivation of new ideas and inspiration for other artists in the industry.

Andre is a workshop educator, and frequently gives seminars on photography, including broncolor lighting. For more information about Andre’s broncolor speaking engagements, contact

Andre Rowe Photography

An Interview with Miami Photographer Andre Rowe

How did you become a photographer? Describe your career development?

My father was a photographer, a commercial photographer in fact. He did weddings as long as I can remember, but it was his portraits that interested me most. I sort of “tripped” into photography with all the photographic gear that surrounded me. What started as an ongoing hobby, turned very serious in high school when I was brought on to the Correspondent Staff of the Sun Sentinel, a major newspaper in the South Florida area. It was there that I saw my future, and paid keen attention to my desire to create images.

2. More specifically, was there one or more life changing moments that helped you move to the next level and become the photographer that you are now? Perhaps a big break, a perfect mentor, a movie, a mystical moment?

I had two muses from high school who from their abundance of images came an abundant flow of requests from people in their network. A network that grow to over hundred individual “models” durning my five year wedding spree. And “that” is where my creativity grew.

3. How do you learn your techniques?

The answer to that question both plain and still PRICELESS. I’ve learned virtually EVERY technique from actually making mistakes. Real mistakes that ended with me posing the questions: “Why did that happen?” and “What should I do instead?”. The latter question leads me to trial and error. Trial as in “intentionally” re-creating the mistakes (and any variance on them), and taking the time to identify the circumstances. Error as in directly avoiding the mistakes by doing perhaps the opposite when the circumstances arise once more.

In essence, my techniques come readily, easily, and successfully from a wealth of understanding “what not to do”.

4. Who are your photo heroes? Or who has inspired your career?

Easy – Patrick Demarchelier. His work is uncomplicated and beautiful. His images are achieved seemingly without effort. He seems to quickly establish a rapport with his subjects and is blessed with their best moods at the time of shooting. The end results are as minimalistic (in terms of editing) as the original state to begin with.

5. What is the worst part about doing what you do?

Editing. Yes, I could share my workflow with a retoucher, but that often means that the last hand to touch the work is not that of the original photographer. I have always questioned the merits of that. None the less, I do edit my own work, and because I dislike it so, I have developed several methods for streamlining my work flow so that I take equal to if not less time at the computer than during the actual shoot itself.

6. What is the best part?

The best part is either my actually “seeing” the image in the seconds before touching the camera, or “seeing” the reaction that the subject(s) have afterwards when showing them why I was so happy in the first place.

1. What are we going to shoot today?

Four poster images over two days for SR Perrott, Inc. who is the distributor of Miller Lite and Coors Light beers in the Daytona Beach, Florida area. The posters are promotional pieces for the 2010 Daytona 500 NASCAR event of which SR Perrott is also a sponsor.

2. How did you learn how to do what you are about to show us?

The simple answer is that I learned through years of experience. The more creative answer is that I learned through patience and the basic premise of focusing the lighting and camera on only what is important to the client, and leave the rest to the viewers imagination.

3.What tools are you using to make this image?

*Nikon D3 with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
*Verso A4 (x1)
*Topas A2 (x2)
*Pulso G2 lampbase (x2)
*Ringflash C
*Beauty Dish with diffuser (x2)
*Para 220 Soft with Ringflash P
*RFS Transmitter
*Sekonic L-758dr lightmeter
*Gitzo Systematic tripod
*Really Right Stuff Ballhead with bracket & various plates

4. Why did you choose these tools?

Because I don’t yet own any Scoro packs! The Ringflash C was essential to give me even light coverage across the surface of the image, with emphasis on the areas that the models encompass. Also, in order to remain softly lit throughout the image area, I had to use the beauty dishes in relation to the PARA 220 Soft. The reason that I chose the PARA 220 Soft is because despite the nature of the poster, the main subjects are the models of which are on a large canvas (the NASCAR). Otherwise, I would have used a greater number of heads with P65 reflectors to compliment a single Ringflash C as my my main light.

5. What features of the equipment that you use make it easier to do your job?

The PARA 220 Soft has a distinctly wide spread of light that works favorably with wide-angle lenses. The Ringflash C is just one of my favorites as an all-in-one light source. I love the robust nature of the Verso A4 and if only by appearance & audible sounds, lends itself to establish the feel of an intense photoshoot.

6. Did you use competing products in the past? What made you change?

This could lead to short novel. Yes, I started with Norman (over a decade of use and familiarity), then moved over to the Pro-7 line of Profoto (six solid years of use), before switching vigorously to Broncolor. I really would need a great deal of time to explain the decisions and nuances as to why I switched, but to sum it up – drawing from my years of experience and knowledge, Broncolor offered a superior product, and NOT by a marginal amount.

Andre Rowe

Andre divides his time between NYC and Miami. Andre kicks off a traveling seminar series starting in the North East this month. For more information please email us at

Tye Studios Shooting broncolor on the Beach

Andre Rowe at TYE Studios in Fort Lauderdale has been making a series of awesome videos about how TYE uses broncolor in the studio and on location for serious professional strobe lighting. TYE is a full service studio with a good supply of broncolor on hand.

In this video, Andre demonstrates setting up a large Para FB focusable light shaper in high winds on the beach. Dave McRitchie of Sinar Bron steps in for an excellent anchorman cameo.

Broncolor and TYE Workshop Weekend – Para on the Beach