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Always Something to Bounce Light Off Of

I was in this glitzy hall of mirrors that was the main office of cosmetics maven Georgette Klinger, shooting a business feature for Forbes magazine, and there was a spiral staircase where we couldn’t use a softbox or an umbrella because the mirrors would have picked it up. Luckily, I had a bounce card (a 3x4′ piece of white cardboard) with me and I had my assistant stand just out of the reflection in the mirrors, where he held a small flash and bounced it off the card, which filled her just enough. It ain’t great light, but sometimes “just enough” is plenty.

In tough situations like this, I take inspiration from one of my photo heroes, Jim Stanfield, who tells a story about being on assignment for National Geographic, shooting an ornately dressed bride in a cavern of a church, with only one flash in his bag. He really had nothing to bounce off of (Jim being Jim, he knew that straight-on flash equals no picture). His solution: he called the groom over and had him open his suit jacket, so he could bounce his flash off the groom’s white shirt. He got a terrific frame.

This ain’t rocket science.

Jim, by the way, could outshoot most of us with one eye shut and a bug in the other. If you want to know how to be an all-purpose, can-do-anything assignment photographer, study his work.

  • “Jim being Jim, he knew straight-on flash equals no picture. He called the groom over and had him open his suit jacket.”
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