Horsing around with big lights for an ad campaign. Outside in the real world.

This is Dr. Cunningham, oral surgeon and world class rodeo rider. We did an ad campaign for one of Austin's premier oral surgery practices two years ago and he was one of our twelve individual subjects. The whole idea for the marketing campaign was to give a personal face to the doctors in the practice. Each doctor was photographed in a way that told a short story about his "other" life.

Ben and I loaded up the old Honda Element and drove out to a ranch to make the image above. We used a large, battery powered flash (Profoto) firing into a large soft box. It was a windy day so we anchored the light and modifier with two 30 pound sand bags as well as with the weight of the flash battery/generator. Sand bags are wonderful but often overlooked accessories. It's rare for them to become obsolete....

We used the soft box as close was we could to the subjects so the fall off would be quicker toward the back of the frame in shadow. Our only challenge, beyond anchoring the large soft box, was to position the horse correctly. Once we got everyone in the right place we shot twenty shots or so shots and headed back towards town.


  1. I like the photo. Nice smile and it has a good depth of field--the horse is mostly sharp but starts to blur out at the rear. Does the toning seem a little strong to you? That's my first impression.

    It would be a fun photo to take into Nik Analog Effects and use one of their scratchy wet plate filters on.

  2. Were you worried about scaring the horse with the lights Kirk?
    NB: I don't mind the horse's ass being soft, if that isn't too strange a thing to say. Indeed, I hadn't noticed until JK mentioned it.

  3. Patrick, I did have concerns coming into the job and I did discuss it with the doctor but he was very confident about his partner (the horse) as long as he was situated correctly. I' m pretty careful to discuss issues like this in pre-production.

    Good point to bring up!

  4. Great portrait. The sepia tone is a little too much for my tastes but the lighting is just right and the poses are perfect. Seems like a great friendship those two have.

  5. How did you get the horse to look at the camera?

  6. A portrait which as creates a connection between the viewer and the subject. I like to look at your porraits Kirk, always something to learn!

  7. I like it a lot. Great light, great subject and great composition!

  8. Unlike others, I rather like the sepia tone to this photograph.

    So you wrote that you used a battery-powered Profoto flash unit, a softbox, and 30-lb sandbags to stabilize the lighting system. And you worked out ahead of time with the client what you wanted the photo to look like. Only an experienced professional photographer would know stuff like that. It would seem that the services of experienced professional photographers like you will be needed for quite some time to come.

    Great photo!


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