I fully admit it, I want to be a photographer. I’m an engineer, a scientist even, but I figure it’s all the same thing anyways. Writing, mountaineering, smart materials, I don’t see much difference between these different facets of my life. My latest boredom deflecting strategy has been teaching myself portrait lighting. When you don’t live with any beautiful women there’s really only one good way to learn lighting: photographing yourself.
Even if beautiful women did live in my apartment, I still would have to tell them how to pose, how to smile, etc. When it’s just me, I know more or less what I’m looking for, so I just do it without delay or discussion. The beautiful women can factor in later, if necessary.
A cheap 15 year old digital camera (relative cheapness) with IKEA soft boxes can do a lot. You have to keep the shutter speed low for proper exposure, but that just means the poses have to be static. Trip the shutter release with a climbing axe, strike a pose and wait for the 2 second shutter delay to fire. Recompose, repeat, and repeat until something looks good.
Once you perfect the technique on yourself, you have photos to show beautiful women to get them to stand in front of your camera. To be honest, I’d also shoot ugly men as well; it’s the lighting, not the subject that really counts. Lighting can make beautiful women look ugly and mean and it can make grumpy old men look happy and aloof. I don’t subscribe to the notion that lighting is good or bad, it just is. It’s simply the combination of light reflecting off of and being absorbed by different surfaces.
Having a poor subject (like me) is probably better to start out with anyways. This way no one can throw things in my direction if they don’t agree with the results of the photo session.