Blog of Alexis Cuarezma » Blog of Alexis Cuarezma Photographer/Director - San Francisco/Los Angeles

Masthead header

Lighting for Visual Impact Workshop

Limited to only 12 people, sign up now or reserve your spot and keep early registration pricing ONLY 5 spot left:


I’m thrilled to be teaming up with some of the best companies in the industry and putting together my first workshop about something I love greatly. LIGHT!!! When I first started shooting, I loved light but I didn’t understand it, therefore I was one of those “natural light photographers”. But early on in my career, I got a call for a last minute shoot that would take place indoors at night, with a well-known musician in the Bay Area. So it needed to be lit. I remember thinking, “I don’t own or even know how to use any lights. How can I even call myself a photographer???” I ended up calling my college friend Brandon Smith who had lights and knew how to use them, and he saved my ass. After that happened, I told myself that “I would NEVER again,” rely on someone else to be able to execute something I want to do. At that moment, it was apparent to me that if I wanted to be a good photographer and increase my chances of succeeding that I had to learn how to light.

Shortly after, I invested in 4 strobes. I started practicing and learning as much as I could about light to the point where I could consistently produce an image as I envisioned regardless if it was indoors, outdoors, day or night. Over the years, I started noticing patterns in the images I loved making. I noticed I followed a certain set of rules to give my images a certain look that I like calling “lighting for visual impact.” I’ve been able to execute this under the highest pressure situations with some of the best athletes in the world for clients such as HBO, Sports Illustrated & NIKE. In some of those cases, I had 60 seconds or less with my subject. Over 2 days, I’ll break down my complete approach & philosophy of photography/lighting.

Here’s the breakdown of everything:

DAY 1 Feb. 8th, 2017 – Start time 11:00am

1st part – Lecture + Q&A (2hrs)

  • Lighting & visual impact: analyzed & explained
  • No intimidation zone: large lighting setups explained
  • Lighting diagrams explained: when, how and why
  • Location analysis, scouting
    and lighting breakdown

2nd part – Hands on Shooting with Professional Model (2hrs)

  • Flooding with light – 3 light setup
  • Lighting for darkness – 3 & 2 light setup

3rd part – Hands on Shooting with Athlete (2hrs)

  • 2 & 4 light setup
  • Black & white setup
  • 5 light setup
  • Breakdown, & wrap up day one at gym

Day 1 is broken down into 3 sections at 2hrs each. In a perfect world, that’s a 6 hour day. But from my experience, what you can always count on is that your day will never go as planned. I certainly want to leave room for questions throughout the day which may takes us into different directions. So expect day one to be more like 8hrs or maybe even more when factoring setting up & breaking down lights, switching location from the hotel to the gym, plus lunch. This will be an exciting day packed full of learning.

Day 2 Feb. 9th, 2017 – Start time 11:00am

  • Overview and review of everything we did on day 1
  • Questions about anything we did the previous day
  • Image selection & my workflow demonstration
  • Image toning & coloring
  • Carving out features with dodging & burning
  • Class images review
  • Q&A about retouching, shooting, and/or lighting
  • Wrap up, party!

How many times have you attended a workshop or lecture only to come up with a ton of questions the following day? Day 2 will be all about post production and Q&A. I’ll show you my process and step by step how I retouch my images. Bring your laptop & tablet. However, having a tablet is not 100% required as I don’t dodge & burn all my images, and will show what I do when I have a tight deadline.

(The lectures & photographing of the model will be done inside a hotel suite in Las Vegas. Hotel TBA)

Since this is a lighting/photography workshop and we’re all visual people, below is a visual representation and more detailed versions of what we’ll be shooting/doing.

I follow a certain set of rules/theories whenever I create images. I will break down my visual approach to making images and explain what & the way I do it. I’ll go over my lighting & photography theories. This will give you a better understanding on how to light an image and why light is your best friend regardless where it comes from.For some reason, I’ve never been intimidated by huge lighting setups even when I first started. However, I know a lot photographers aren’t like that. Many have a misunderstanding about lighting. Some think they need to use a lot of lights just because. Some take the opposite approach because they don’t want to deal with everything that involves lighting, and some have a little bit of knowledge which as they say, is a “dangerous thing” and their idea/approach is flawed. For example, on the image above on the right-hand side with 11 power packs, I had a photographer ask me why I needed so much power? I was taken aback by the question and that way of thinking. Each of those power packs are roughly only 1,000w/s each. And it’s not like they are all daisy-chained together and pointed at the same thing at full blast. They each were used individually with their own modifier, and every light had its own purpose. I’ll explain large light setups and how I deal with those shoots. I’ll show how I planned a 22 light shoot and break everything down. So when you see a large setup, you won’t be lost or intimidated.

Drawing lighting diagrams helps me greatly at times. I’ll go over when I do them, why and why sometimes I don’t.Lighting on location is different than lighting in a studio or indoors. There’s always a number of factors to consider. That’s why it’s a good idea and a huge benefit if you can scout your location. I’ll go over my process when I shoot on-location, indoors and outdoors. I’ll break down how I transform a scene like the group portrait above and the entire process from beginning to end.There’s many different ways to light. How you light is directly dependent on your creativity and needs. When I need to light more “naturally” or “brighter,” I do what I like calling “flooding with light.” This is a 3 light setup I enjoy doing and we’ll actually be shooting this exact setup/look with a professional model. I’ll explain my thought process and lighting setup for this look and how I adjust it as the shoot progresses.One of the things I love about 100% lighting your images with strobes is that you can quickly transform the look of a room or your photo in minutes. I’ve actually done it instantly. We’ll stay in the same room and switch from “flooding with light” to one of my favorite looks which I like calling “lighting for darkness.” This gives you a much different look, mood and feel than the first set of images. This look can be done with 3 lights or only 2. The bright & dark images shown above were shot in the same exact room. All I did was make a few adjustments to the lighting to change the look.Once we’re done shooting the images with the model, we’ll move on location to a gym and photograph an athlete. I’ll start by explaining and showing my 2 light setup, then move up to a 4 light setup. This will give you an understanding on how & why I add lights when making an portrait.  I LOVE black & white images. For black & white images, I like my blacks to be black & my whites to be white. I’ll go over my go to lighting setup and approach when I shoot with black & white in mind.

And lastly, I’ll go over a 5 light setup and my approach to color photography/portraiture. This will be the final look we’ll shoot. In all, we’ll shoot 6 different lighting setups/looks which is the amount of different looks I do in a single session when given creative control & sufficient time.

All the companies that I use are awesome, and there are some giveaways for everyone. Here’s the breakdown:

  • The first 4 people who sign up will get a 128GB SanDisk CF Card (so don’t wait, sign up ASAP!)
  • The following 4 people who sign up will get a 64GB SanDisk CF Card
  • EVERYONE will get a THINKTANK memory wallet plus a $60 Gift Certificate to Triple Scoop Music
  • EVERYONE who signs up gets a 30min pre-workshop 1 on 1 Skype/Facetime session with me so we can get to know each other & I can make sure I cover what you need.

SIGN UP NOW, this workshop is limited to only 12 people. Discounted price of $595 is good through all of December. Price goes up to $695 afterward. Since I know it’s the holiday season and everyone is spending a lot this month on gifts, you can reserve your spot for only $200. That will save your spot and keep the discounted price. The balance of $395 is due Jan 25th, 2017.



Am I planning another workshop anywhere else or at another time?

– NO, this is the only one planned.

Will this workshop be recorded/streamed and will I be able to buy/download later?

-NO, this is a hands-on workshop structured to teach and explain what I do, but more importantly WHY. And also answer your questions about lighting in detail.

I don’t have $100,000 to spend on lighting like I see you use in your shoots. I don’t even have $10,000 to spend on lights!! I would love to learn lighting but why take a class if I can’t afford all the gear you’re going to use?

-Gear is something you should never be hung up on. If you look at my body of work, some of it is created with 100k+ worth of lighting, and others with a 10year old speed lite and/or $5 insulation boards used as reflectors. What I do is follow certain visual rules over and over again which you can see repeated in my body of work which gives it visual impact or “cool lighting.” That’s what I’ll break down, explain and teach you over 2 days. Rule #1 as a photographer, LIGHT is your best friend regardless if it comes 93million miles away from a giant gas ball, or 5ft away from a fancy strobe or $2 light bulb. I will teach you my theories & laws about lighting. I started with nothing & as a “natural light” photographer.

Have any questions?? Shoot me an e-mail.

patricia thornham - December 24, 2016 - 10:43 am

I’d love to come to your workshop – unfortunately I can’t make it in Feb. I’ve been following your work for a while and I see creativity with light, gels, and atmosphere that no one else is doing. I hope your workshop is very successful and if in the future you do put together a dvd or workbook I would be highly interested in purchasing it. please add me to your mailing list.

John rossi - December 27, 2016 - 12:32 pm

What hotel is this being held? Where in LV is this?

Alexis - December 28, 2016 - 8:52 am

Hi Patricia,
thank you so much for the kind words. I’ll certainly make an announcement if I ever produce something like that. In the meantime, please just keep on eye on my social media & this blog. Hope to connect sometime.

Alexis - December 28, 2016 - 8:54 am

Hi John,
it’s not 100% finalized yet, but it will most likely be at the SLS hotel since I’m also doing a short talk during WPPI. E-mail me with any questions.

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *