utah salt flats

Salt Flats Photo Shoots – Teaching Lighting to Photographers (part 1)

This last weekend I taught a 2-day lighting class to on the Utah Salt Flats to photographers from Idaho. It was my Adaptive Lighting class and it’s the perfect place because the area is so unpredictable. And this time was no different because when we got there the entire area was covered in smoke from the California wildfires.

Instead of wishing we didn’t have smoke, my challenge to everyone was to adapt, problem solve, and create smokey images so amazing, that everyone from now on will want photographs in the smoke. And as you can see from my first example, the smoke could be very beautiful. With some adaptive lighting and gear, my first demo was deepen the sky for a warm, surreal, and golden landscape.

We had an awesome turn out, as you can see in this video, and photographers and models alike were all having a great time. Definitely watch this short video. It’s in 4K, so try full screen if you have the internet bandwidth. It’ll be worth it.

No matter where you are, lighting always needs to be controlled for portraits – and that’s particularly true on the flats because there’s never shade. Many photographers rely on shade to make their portraits work, but learning to nail everything in the harsh environments of the Utah Salt Flats with studio lights and technical know-how means being able to create beautiful portrait anywhere. Out on the Salt Flats, the sunlight changes constantly from morning, to noon, afternoon, sunset, twilight, and even after dark. Being able to rock studio lights at this location is essential.

I am excited by the images I created there, and will post them soon. But first I wanted to share some behind the scenes from the event.

Here’s our entire group in the afternoon on Saturday. I captured this image with my drone, fired with my lower hand. And a special thanks to my friend Cory Waite for coming along as my friend and assistant, and for getting lots of great behind-the-scenes footage.

It was fun seeing all the lighting setups along the flats, and all the photographers and models having a great time.

Here are a few early favorites that I created during various demos.

Here’s a great image of Phil White working. He’s the photographer who put the event on and asked me to come speak for the Professional Photographers of Idaho. If you’re a photographer in Idaho, you should belong to this group.

On Saturday afternoon, we got special permission for our group to photograph at the historic Enola Gay Hangar, nearby in Wendover, Utah. I’m grateful to those who made that happen, and I’m excited to see what everyone creates in this unique spot. With all of our pretty models, lighting gear, and access to this great location, there were lots of ways to solve creative problems and create beautiful images. Here’s some of my early favorites from that location

At one point, photographer Katrina Hoffman was changing her camera settings while photographing a model who was Salsa dancing. I took advantage of the moment to cross through her shot – but Salsa danced through the space. Katrina was quick enough to get this photo of me carrying my lights, and Salsa dancing past her Salsa dancing model. HAHA!

Stay tuned for more great images from this event. And if you’re a photographer looking for training, check out my training website with online courses and schedule for upcoming events. It’s all at BryCoxWORKSHOPS.com.

And if you’re a client and would like to create some amazing portraits, now’s a great time to book a fun new shoot. Give me a call at 801-728-3317.

And until next time, America.

Salt Flats Evening Shoot with Pamela, the Bubble Trailer, and the Chop Stick Guys (part 1)

This week my photographer friend from California, Suzette Allen kicked off her big nationwide tour in her Bubble Trailer. She’s a photographic trainer and we’ve known each other for years because we often speak at the events. She’s taking the next few months to tour the country in her trailer, visiting some of her favorite camera shops and photographer friends. Her first big stop was here in Utah. I drove out to meet her on the Salt Flats, along with the Chop Stick Guys, and I brought my beautiful friend Pamela to be our model.

While everyone was gearing up, I did a quick light-painting of Suzette’s beautiful Bubble Trailer.

The Salt Flats is a wide open area with no shade. The sun moves quickly and the light shifts dramatically. Sadly many photographers go there and rely on haphazard or natural light while using auto camera settings there. It’s all they know. They just end up with muddy faces and often washing out the background too. Instead, to really rock the location and the lighting there, all the details need to be controlled. These are the details that I teach and share with photographers in my training courses.

When you control the lighting and the technical details, you capture the deep tones of the background while sculpting the model with light, making her shine. From there you can be fully creative and let go, especially if you have a great location and model. And Pamela was a terrific model! She absolutely killed it! We had a lot of fun and have so many beautiful images to choose from. Here are some of my early favorites.

This outfit offered a pop of color on the cool tones of the background. The sun was setting, but the heavy clouds and distant storms were blocking a lot of the sky. So with some custom lighting, we get these deep colors in the sky and Pam and her outfit just pop.

She has a lot of personality and it really shows in these photographs. I really love all the images we created.

As the sun got lower, the wind really began to pick up. We used the wind to our advantage, and I love the movement that it created in her hair and outfit.

As it got darker, we did a change of outfits for more variety, and our model wore this flowy red dress. It was perfect for the wind and looked great with the trailer later. Her and I shot a lot of movement in this dress which I may post later, but here’s some of my favorite stand-out images in this dress.

Suzette is building a series of images of her trailer in different locations, and prepared a bunch of balloons for our model. Because she was switching back and forth between shooting video and photos, she was using continuous lighting. I saw some of her previews on her camera and I loved what I saw. Here are some behind the scene images of her working.

I really love the rain clouds as our backdrop to these photographs, and Pam really did a great job.

This is just Part 1. I’ll post more later because I continued to shoot Pam into the night with a couple more changes of clothes, even after sunset when it was pitch black. Plus the next morning we all got up extra early to shoot one more time on the Salt Flats at sunrise. I brought a different model for sunrise, and have lots of great images to share from that too. From both shoots, all the portraits are amazing, and I’m exited to share them with you.

If you’d like a cool photo shoot at an exotic location like the Salt Flats, give me a call at 801-728-3317. With the right lighting, it can work well for families, kids, even high school seniors.

And if you’re a photographer looking to up your game and get more training, check out my online and in-person courses at BryCoxWORKSHOPS.com.

And until next time, America.