“Trust my instincts and creative voice, and keep it simple, positive and joyful.”
When asked about the start of his career, Peter Dawson states:
“I was the designated family road trip photographer starting at around grade 4. My father handed me his manual Ricoh and showed me how to focus and read the internal light meter and I took it from there. We road tripped all over the West, and that is how I first learned to see natural light, and appreciate form and composition. It also served to plant seeds of some of the more thematic aspects of my images: mystery, beauty, and wonder.
Fast forwarding to my college years, I was originally a pre-med student in Seattle but always maintained photography as a hobby. I was an avid hiker and snowboarder, so was constantly toting my camera to the mountains to photograph the landscape and outdoor lifestyle. After two years of studying science, I was burned out and decided to enroll at Brooks Institute of Photography for a change and to explore the more creative side of my make-up. I finished my degree in photography at Brooks and immediately pursued assisting opportunities in Los Angeles. Before graduating I also Interned at an Ad Agency in LA with an Art Buyer, which was so valuable to see how photography is viewed from the buyer’s side, and the inner workings of an agency.
I was a horrible photo assistant! There were a few photographers who kept me on as a third assistant, but I just wasn’t handy enough with rigging, and all the different types of equipment that I hadn’t been exposed to yet. I learned what I needed to about the industry (how an advertising shoot works, how the photographer interacts with everyone on set, etc.) and then started pursuing my own assignments.
I slowly gained a few editorial clients and music industry clients, then began showing my work at ad agencies. Many Art Buyers loved my landscape photography and encouraged me to shoot cars as a natural fit for my aesthetic in the advertising world. I followed their advice and developed a car and landscape portfolio, gained some editorial clients, and then moved into advertising. I now have a diverse group of clients in advertising and editorial, shooting cars, people, and location-based conceptual work, and have representation with Anderson Hopkins in NYC.
For me, I honestly can’t point to one moment. It has been a steady climb of very hard work, risk, generous help and interest from others, artistic development, and business skill development. It’s truly a marathon, and each press of the shutter or hand-shake is another step. I still have much to learn and am excited to keep going!
I learned much of the technical side of photography in school to where it is now second nature. The greatest way I have found to learn technique is to simply look at a lot of photography. Find aspects of an image that I am drawn to, dissect how it was made, and apply it to my own vision.
My photo heroes actually aren’t photographers, but people in different disciplines who see the world in a unique way, and in a way that I connect with. Examples would be Terrence Malick, Sergio Leone, CS Lewis, Albert Bierstadt, Lewis and Clark, Henryck Gorecki, and many others.”
Like any career, the job has it’s ups and downs. Dawson discusses his favorite, and least favorite part of being a photographer.
“I was only half joking with a friend the other day when I said that being a photographer now means 14-hour days in front of a computer!
The freedom, exploration, and creative thought-life. And of course, the people I get to meet and interact with,” says Peter on his favorite aspect of photography.
When asked why he chooses to shoot with a Hasselblad, Peter states:
“The file size and quality….Especially when shooting for my car clients, they frequently need to do extreme cropping to accommodate very different media layouts from a single page vertical to a billboard horizontal. The file quality and sharpness needs to hold through some pretty adventurous cropping!
I love the H-series lenses. The 3.5 50mm is my go-to. Many wide-angle lenses claim to be sharp edge-to-edge, but this is the best one I’ve found.
Long exposure capabilities: I’m frequently shooting long exposures for all kinds of reasons…low lighting, night images, motion blur for cars, rig shots of cars, light streaks, water blur in my landscapes, etc. The image quality at long exposures is way better then any 35mm dslr, and this may seem small but i love it: easy mirror lock up, and the mirror stays up for sequences of exposures until you press for it to come down again.
The viewfinder is mind-blowing…somehow it looks better than real…it’s difficult to explain but for some reason it’s easier for me to pre-visualize the final image when looking through compared to other cameras.”
See more of Peter Dawson’s work at www.peterdawson.net
LA based photographer, Catherine Asanov, started dabbling in the darkroom when she was just 16. “I fell in love with the magic of the darkroom, in developing film and bringing an image to life on paper with light. Being trapped in a darkroom with one red light was such a magical and personal experience,” states Catherine Asanov in a recent interview with broncolor.
After studying at the Savannah College of Art & Design in France and Atlanta, Catherine moved to LA to begin to develop a client base. She is currently based between Los Angeles and New York City and is represented by LVA Represents.
Catherine’s strong work ethic, along with her creativity, creates a strong foundation for the seminars she currently hosts throughout the country; teaching a new generation of photographers how to turn their dream of photography into a successful business. “I really do believe that the more work you put into your passion, the more your dream begins to develop,” a message that she not only teaches at her seminars, but practices on a daily basis.
Not limited to just seminars, Catherine also works as a Fine Art and Fashion photographer. Her creativity is fueled by experimentation and a willingness to take chances. “I learned a lot of my techniques by just playing around. I love to experiment. There were of course classes I took in college on lighting and photography fundamentals, which got me off on the right foot. I still experiment with lighting techniques every shoot and find some new trick every day,” says Catherine of her lighting practices.
As a young photographer entering the field, Asanov was limited by her equipment. “I’ve always had minimal tools at my disposal after being thrown into the real world. I learned how to be a one light or two light wonder and being able to do something beautiful with little tools.” However, as her career grows, so does her equipment. Working closely with broncolor, Asanov now uses the Mobil A2l kit, along with multiple heads, beauty dishes, and whatever else she can get her hands on. The lightweight heads allow Catherine to travel with lighter-weight light stands, and the eco setting allows for longer battery life on shoots. “It’s the quality of light, the durability, and I know the product won’t fail me like other products have in the past,” that keeps Asanov coming back to broncolor. “The light that the broncolor lighting system produces is like no other. The modifiers are not like any other as well. It’s the whole package that made me seal the deal.”
Catherine Asanov continues to work closely with broncolor, producing work and hosting seminars for a new generation of photographer. Visit our events page to find out when and where you can catch her next.
Urs Recher is the head photographer and consultant at broncolor Switzerland. His experience working with broncolor lights is world renowned. At least three months a year, he travels around the globe giving seminars and workshops, assisting shoots and supporting students, amateurs and professionals in their daily work and questions with light. He published his book “Light Architecture” which explains characteristics of light from a photographic point of view, showcasing 50 lighting set-ups with end results and describing the uniqueness of each broncolor light modifier. Below, Urs deconstructs a recent ad campaign and explains how to achieve certain results using broncolor light shapers.
“I recently shot a broncolor Scoro campaign and poster. The agency’s briefing requested a dynamic perspective and dramatic lighting. Two Scoro power packs, a 3200S and a 1600E were going to be combined in one shot – however, I decided to illuminate and shoot them one by one and mount the two photos in Photoshop.
My medium format camera with a 35mm lens created the powerful perspective. Surprisingly, I did not have to work with different focus layers – the 35 – 90mm lens at f22 was precise enough to make it all in one exposure.
In the following, I will describe my lighting one-by-one:
From seeing early shots of the Scoro power packs, I noticed that the carbon surface requires a hard main light to show the structure nicely. Softer lights would only show a boring grey side panel. I got the effect that I was looking for with the P70 normal reflector and narrow honeycomb grids.
The second light was a Striplite 60 illuminating only the left rubber protector. This light was placed vertically and was equipped with honeycomb grids to make sure that the nice structure I got on the carbon was being displayed accurately.
To finish the light on the front, I added a Picolite with grids in the right low corner to guarantee a good separation of the back rubber on the black velvet-covered table.
On the right side of the pack I was also facing the problem that the black material did not properly separate from the black background. A general fill-in light would have been a bad choice, as it would have destroyed the high contrast lighting and also the nice appearance of the carbon. To avoid this, I worked with an accent light from the back: a Litestick, simply lying on the table behind the problematic area.
To illuminate the front panel I chose a Pulsoflex EM 30 x 110 cm from the back. It was very difficult to find the right position for this light.
Too far: The shadows of the handle become too hard.
Too close: The light falls off too quickly.
To high: All the displays reflect the softbox and become “blind”.
Too low: No light on the front panel.
This is where it ended up:
The left side was still almost completely black. I put a Boxlite 40 next to the Scoro and got a very even light. So I directed the Boxlite upwards to create a gradation. The angle defined the height of the fall off and the distance to the pack, the contrast.
Now my shot looks like this:
Finally I wanted the Scoro to be “on.” So I tuned all my flashes off, but my “model” on. 3 sec at f22 was the correct exposure.
To shoot the smaller Scoro 1600E I simply mirrored the set up and illuminated everything more or less the same way. I only had to make some minor adjustments with the main light from the P70 as the carbon of the Scoro E is darker and shinier.
I spent about 5 hours in the studio (including a coffe break) to shoot the basic raw material (2 packs and 2 illuminated front panels). Another 3 hours (and 2 more coffees) later, the final result was on my screen:
Join Urs Recher for his Lighting Seminars tour of the West Coast!
Urs will focus on defining the photographer’s toolbox – the characteristics of several broncolor light shapers, the quality of the light they produce, and how to mold and adapt to different subjects and environments. He will show several applications with examples of broncolor lighting modifiers for both still life and beauty sets, using the new broncolor Move 1200L and Scoro power packs, the fastest mobile and studio power pack, respectively.
This seminar leaves room for exploration and creativity while enhancing your photography skillset.
Friday, April 12th, 10am-4pm,
196 Mississippi Street San Francisco, CA 94107
Tuesday, April 16th, 10am-4pm
Tuesday, April 9th, 7-10 PM
Edge Studio – 1388 S Longwood Ave, Los Angeles, CA