Shoot Inspiration: Light and Wire

Shoot Inspiration: Light and Wire

Where do photographic ideas and concepts come from?

Well, THIS one came from the loading dock in our Baltimore Studio Space...literally.

I walked past a pile of materials that someone was kind enough to leave behind, and I came across two unopened packages of wire fencing.

I should rewind a bit <<< if you are asking yourself the question, "Where do photographic ideas and concepts come from?" then you are already wasting time!

Ideas are everywhere, and they do not cost a thing. You need to challenge yourself to be looking for inspiration in the world around you, always.

For THIS idea, I barely unrolled the wire fencing before I clipped it (so it would hold its shape) and hung it from a CStand. Yep, thats all I did.


Now, this accomplishes a few things:

-1) I now have a lighting modifier that throws very moldable patterns of shadow. Slight adjustments to distance, focal plane, and the focusing of the beams (using a fresnel light) can change up a look dramatically, with very tiny tweaks.

-2) I have a lens modifier that I can shoot through. Like the beam of light that hits it, you can make similar adjustments with your focus, distance and angle that you hold your camera in relation to the wire. All of those changes are subtle but result in far different looks.

Above you see the 'cross section' view of the modifier setup. That is an ARRI 300w fresnel flooded completely out, and at a distance of 5 feet.


Remember, photography is about light, how it travels, and where it lands. Sometimes it ends up in pretty places, sometimes not. Sometimes its much prettier from 2 feet back, or 9 inches to the left.

It really is about the TINY TINY (ironic that it in all caps right?) adjustments. Anyone that has taken a workshop that I have taught has heard this before: I look for the tiny adjustments that can take a good photo and turn it into a great one.


This particular shoot was ALL about the tiny adjustments indeed. You can see the differences in the images above and below. The ONLY things that changed were my position and focus.

Our model, Brittany, did not have to move at all. Changing the camera's perspective (of shooting through the wire) was all that was required to create a different effect.


In the photo above, you can see how dramatically different the achieved effect is. Adjusting your angle to the wire can help you catch reflections, even creating a look that resembles something in between a flare and a light-leak!

Heck, you dont even need to shoot through the wire! Switching gears now, here is an image of me in a similar setup. Photo credit Brittany Herbinko.


In this image, the modifier (a steel grate with round holes) is ONLY a lighting modifier and doesnt affect the lens directly at all. This allows for a much better 'projection' of the pattern onto our subject.

The same rules of 'tiny adjustments' apply here; though, it is no longer the movement of the lens that changes the look and pattern. The subject is the adjustment piece in this scenario. Moving around in relation to the modifier quickly changes the size, sharpness, and intensity of the pattern.

Thats it!

Wanna shoot this exact setup? I'll put it together for you at your next booking.

This is not something you should overthink. In fact, dont even think, grab the first thing that can throw a pattern, light it, and create something different. This is a GREAT idea for self portraiture!

Have fun with this excersize and do not allow yourself to get stuck in a pattern (forgive the pun). The possibilities are endless. Go!

Book time in the studio and try this out today!

Atomic Joshua image
Post by Atomic Joshua

Photographer + Filmmaker turned studio owner.