Interview with orbis® Ring flash photographer Glynn Lavender

Photo caption: Using his regular speedlight teamed with his orbis ring flash off-axis (to one side of the camera),
pro photographer Glynn Lavender got this great photo with soft shadows and flattering light.

Australia-based photographer Glynn Lavender is well known both in Australia and the USA for his 30-year involvement in the photo industry and brings his passion to every event he attends. He’s shot everything from Weddings to Landscapes and loves the challenge of being able to produce fantastic images in any location.

He’s also is the owner of Creative Photo Workshops, one of Australia’s most dynamic photographer training companies which runs events in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  We caught up with him over Christmas and talked to him about his photo career – and his orbis® Ringflash.

Q: How long have you been a photographer?

I have been in the photography industry since 1980. I got my first camera in 1969 when I was 5.

Q: Are you a professional or amateur photographer? What was your breakthrough, either when you knew you were in love with photography or when you became pro?

I am a full time professional, but my role these days is as a teacher of photography rather than as a pro shooter, running my training company Creative Photo Workshops.

My breakthrough didn’t come, it more realistically grew over a long period of time. From the early 80’s, when I worked behind the counter in Australia’s (then) largest camera store, I had dreams of shooting. I had a rather a stop/start beginning to my professional photography career where I stumbled along! It took a few years running other photo businesses to build up my skills as a businessperson rather than as a photographer.

I took the plunge into shooting once I felt I had what it takes to run a business, not just to be a photographer. Some of the best professional photographers go bankrupt because of lack of business skills, whereas a competent shooter with good business understanding can often make it successfully.

 

Q: Tell us a bit about the setup for your photoshoot(s) – lighting, speedlights, equipment, post-processing.

The images included here show the use of the orbis Ringflash in both its traditional position (lens pointing through it) and hand-held off-axis. I like to mix it up.

The settings are whatever the settings need to be to get the shot in the particular circumstances and environmental conditions. No two scenarios are the same. There are no magic numbers in photography.

I used my Canon 5D Mk II with the new Tamron 90mm f2.8 VC USD Macro Lens. My Canon 580EXII speedlight (with my orbis Ringflash of course!) was triggered with Pocket Wizard Plus III’s. All shots were post processed using Nik Software’s Silver FX Pro2 and Color FX4.

 

Q: How did your orbis® Ringflash help?

The orbis Ringflash has many strong points. Firstly it’s lightweight, so it’s always in the bag ‘just in case’. Secondly the look achieved by shooting through the ring flash adapter it gives not only gorgeous light but also an ethereal quality that is not easy to create on location and requires far too much time in post to produce. Getting it straight out of the camera is always my preference.

Using the orbis hand-held, off-axis, allows you to make minute adjustments quickly to get the light ‘just right’, something that is much more cumbersome to do using traditional soft boxes anchored to a stand.

 

Portrail taken with the orbis Ringflash and a Canon speedlight. Used off-axis the orbis can give a dynmic lighting effect.

The orbis Ringflash can be used around the lens for a shadowless effect, or off-axis as a soft box to provide more dynamic lighting effects quickly and easily.

 

Q: The orbis® Ringflash is designed to give photographers an edge. It’s very challenging to make a living as a professional photographer, what are your tips for staying competitive in the photography industry?

1: Assume you’ve got the job when interviewing.

2: Never show your images until they ask (they must like your work or they wouldn’t have called you in).

3: Most people book the photographer not the photos – be upbeat and positive and make them want to work with you.

4: Charge like you mean it! Every photography job you undersell is one less meal for your kids, one more bill you can’t pay and one nice holiday you won’t have.

5: You are not competing with anyone else. There is only one you. How can they buy that cheaper down the street?

 

Q: Your photos have a particular quality to them, how would you describe your personal style?

‘In your face’ would have to be the best description of my style. I like impact in my pics, I want that which is most important to be strong in the picture.

 

Q: Are you a self-taught photographer, did you go to college or university to study photography, or did you have a mentor?

I am a self-taught photographer, however I HIGHLY recommend (as does my bank manager) that people attend photography workshops to learn :-)

 

Q: Is there something you always ask to yourself/think just before you press the shutter button?

Am I telling the story as simply as possible? What is in the picture that would be better left out? If it doesn’t add to the story, get rid of it.

Portrait taken with the orbis Ringflash showing catchlights and shadowless ring light results.

Taken with the orbis Ringflash in traditional ring flash position (with the lens through the middle), this striking portrait shows off the great shadowless light and attractive catchlights you can get with the orbis.

 

Q: What is one last impression you want to leave in your photos?

My watermark….. :-) I want people to connect. To be drawn to the face. To look into the eyes and think about the subject, not the photography. The photography is merely a means to an end. The end should be ‘look at me, I exist’

 

Q: Do you have any tips for those looking for advice from recognized, successful professional photographers?

The only way to succeed is to do it. Get out there and practice. Think about your shots. Spend 5 minutes setting up a photo and 1 minute shooting it, not the other way around. Remember your camera only has ‘x’ amount of shots in it before the shutter gives up the ghost so why fire off frames hoping to get good pics?

If you want to work as a professional photographer then take a good hard look at yourself. What is it about YOU, not your photos, that would make someone book you? Build on that!

 

Q: Where can we hear more from you or see more of your work?

My website is www.creativephotoworkshops.com.au

I run photography workshops in the USA and Australia  and hope to make it to England soon.

I post regularly on my Facebook page (Creative Photo Workshops) all things interesting in photography I find on the net as well as my own images from photo workshops.


 

To learn more about lighting with the orbis, start with the first video in our orbis series on our YouTube Channel.

Curious about using your flash off-axis? Check out this great “Strobe on a Rope” post from the Strobist blog site for some great explanations and tips.

And here’s another great tutorial from our friends at Digital Photography School; 7 Creative Ways to Use a Ring Flash – including off-axis!

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