There isn’t much that acclaimed photographer hasn’t shot in his stellar 30-year career, but as he explains in the first of his monthly columns, the human body is hard to beat...
Profoto air remote system. I experimented, bouncing between manual and TTL controls, rarely having to leave the camera, and dictating light levels and ratios to the flashes on the set wirelessly.
I was thrilled with the two-way communication with the Nikon system, even then, and now that the B1 TTL units are in full-blown production status, the news is even better. When more power is called for, and you absolutely need a larger flash that can cross over easily from the studio to the field, operate on battery, and give you a wallop of light, the B1 is basically the go-to unit.
Likewise the D810 is the go-to picture machine for this type of job. Why would you address these magnificent examples of human architecture with any less resolution? The D810’s phenomenal sharpness plus Nikon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens is a beautiful combination for shooting beautiful humans.
Smoke. It’s a wonder and a vexation. Kind of like herding cats, it meanders. But if you fill a background with vapour occasionally, it can add texture and depth to your lighting. For most of the day, I worked with a combination of sidelights, an overhead strip and a small strip, positioned low. I played with the values of these lights via the air remote, and sometimes shut them down altogether, depending on the attitude and positioning of my subject.
Black and white was a natural way, to me, to approach this. Colour, I feel, would have interfered with the directness and intensity of the athletes as they presented themselves to the camera. They were stripped down, essentially, using nothing but their physicality, so I kept it equally basic in camera, shifting into monochrome mode on the LCD, so I could see and feel in black and white.
It was a good day in the studio. The technology of cameras now allows the photographer’s imagination of to run free, and fast. • To see more of Joe’s amazing images, visit his website at