Veteran Photo Assistant Grants a Look Behind the Scenes With Some of the World's Best Photographers

Have you ever wondered what sort of lighting setup is used for a huge editorial photoshoot? Professional photo assistant Melanie Mann has put together a blog showing the behind the scenes goodness.



Photography assistant Melanie Mann has put together an incredible blog called Confessions of a Mad Photo Assistant, in which she reconstructs the lighting setups of some of the more famous photographers on today's editorial market. Like, for example, Annie Leibovitz' famous Disney photoshoots from last year. This huge rig below was used for the Queen Latifah/Ursula shot, which ended up becoming this incredible photo. Here's the rundown of what was used on set:

To camera right, a large octobank shooting through a large diffusion panel toward the Queen. Two large strip banks on either side of the camera, low, illuminating the underside of the tentacles. Two large octobanks, one above and slightly behind the Queen camera left, and the other handheld by an assistant at 45 degree angle to Queen also camera left. Another large octobank is boomed overhead, an umbrella illuminates the background, and a reflector held by an assistant camera right. Quite an impressive set up! Understandably as there are several moving parts and awkwardly twisting tentacles. Overall beautifully soft soft illumination.

Mann doesn't stop there, she also sleuths the lighting setups of Patrick Ecclesine, Jill Greenberg, Dave Hill, and Martin Schoeller. It's an incredibly well researched blog post that shows how some of the most distinctive current photographers achieve their famous styles. It's great if you're looking to riff on a specific look, or if you're looking for inspiration on how to craft your own style.

Just keep in mind, some of these require some pretty serious equipment to achieve. Others are done with just a couple of handheld strobes. You don't need a huge set of lights to achieve an amazing photo, but if you're looking for a specific feel you may have to.