Each month we highlight a certain item in Profoto’s rich assortment of Light Shaping Tools (if you want to browse through previous articles, click here). This month we talk to Craig Fraser at Frasershot Studios about his favorite bit of kit: the ProBox.
Northampton-based Frasershot Studios is a small team of photographers and videographers; each specialized in a certain niche of photography. Together they are capable of handling almost any assignment – editorial spreads, corporate portraits, architectural studies, etc.
Craig Fraser, the man who founded and gave name to the studio, manages food and product photography. But Craig does not shoot just any food. He has found himself a niche within a niche, shooting spectacular dishes prepared by celebrity chefs at Michelin starred restaurants.
“It’s lovely to work with such talented people,” says Craig. “The only downside is that you can hardly ever move anything on the plate. That would be like telling the chef to change his presentation. It’s a respect thing, really. They rightly consider their dishes to be pieces of art, so you just have to use lighting to the best of your knowledge and work around that.”
How do you do that?
“I think that regardless of what product you’re shooting, you have to take a closer look at what’s unique about it. What are its unique selling points, so to speak? Whatever that is, that’s what you should focus on. For instance, I recently used the ProBox to shoot a pair of shoes for a company called Crockett & Jones. These shoes cost approximately £500.00, and there are more than 200 different process involved in making just one of them. So the quality of the leather is key, and that’s what you want to show.”
How does the ProBox help you do that?
“You can’t just throw light all over the place. You have to be subtle and in absolute control of the highlights, and the ProBox is great for that. Unlike a softbox, where you have a large light source with a gradual fall-off and soft edges, the ProBox gives you a smaller, perfectly even edge-to-edge light with really sharp edges. I also like the fact that it’s so easy to work with. With the modeling light turned on, you can physically see the highlights change shape and intensity as you reposition and set your lights. It makes my job so much easier.”
How would you describe the light that the ProBox produces?
“What the Beauty Dish does for fashion, the ProBox does for product photography: it makes things looks nicer than they actually are,” laughs Craig. “Seriously, it’s a very flattering light. But the ProBox can also give you a really harsh light and be used to create dark, moody shadows, if that’s what you want. It all depends on where you put it and what settings you’re working with. It’s an incredibly versatile tool in that regard.”
So, apart from food and shoes, what else have you shot with it?
“Well, it’s fairly small, which is useful when lighting smaller products. I recently shot some light bulbs and the ProBox was a great help in bringing out the shape of the bulbs. Also, I often use it to create long, beautiful highlights in wine bottles. I honestly don’t think you can do that with a softbox. Not with the same results. You’d get these wishy-washy edges that you’d have to spend a lot of time sharpening in Photoshop.”
You can stack several ProBoxes together to create larger light sources. Is this something you do?
“No, I don’t. I do have two ProBoxes, but I usually put one on each side.”
Finally, do you have any word of advice to those who have never used the ProBox before?
“Yes. Use the modeling light! This might seem obvious to some, but I’ve met so many photographers who for some reason don’t use their modeling lights. As I said before, with the ProBox you can see the highlights change when you reposition your lights. In fact, since the ProBox is so small, you can just hold it in your hand and play around with it until you see exactly the highlights you need in front of you. That’s my tip of the day.”
Below is a video from one of Craig’s shoots with the ProBox plus a couple of other images shot with it.
If you want to see even more videos and images, check out Frasershot’s neat website.
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