Why I HATE Ummm…brella Lighting

Why I HATE Ummm…brella Lighting…

If you want to get me to fall asleep, just show me some images shot with umbrella lighting. Now I am not talking Richard Avedon, because Richard Avedon did a lot more than capture images with a single  umbrella, he captured a moment that is so his signature, that anyone else attempting to copy would be dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of what Avedon accomplished.

Umbrella lighting is the ‘WalMart’ or the ‘Ford Pinto’ of lighting for me. It is the horrible gig at the Holiday Inn, where some dried up ex alcoholic is attempting to make a come back singing “I Will Survive” to a bunch of totally miserable accountants congregating for their annual convention.

Umbrella light is that really bad hair do or dress that can only be seen in some totally kitsch boutique in Boise, Idaho.  It is that Wedding photo that we have all grown to, ah, hmmm, Love?

It smacks of hey, I am now a photographer because I now own a couple of studio lights and have to have this because if I don’t I won’t be considered credible and it will impress anyone who doesn’t know any better and the bigger the better types…

Ah, give me that umbrella to be very, very safe and to not upset the REAL serious photographers out there that believe that you have to have a reflector to kick in some light in to “THAT” shadow area, otherwise it is NOT a technically good image.

What is even worse is that those who MUST HAVE an umbrella, will almost certainly have a…”Da Da Da Da  Soft-box!!!”  Now THAT is really impressive.  Every time I see a set up with a soft-box and the “UMBRELLA” I pop the proverbial CHUBBY and have to sit down, as to not expose by excitement.

Now, if somebody were to say to me, “Hey check out what I did with this umbrella!”  that would totally blow me away, I would be so F’ing pleased. But at this point in time, I have seen nothing but flat, boring, pedestrian, predictable, unassuming, dull and flat out knock me out with a VALIUM the size of a HOCKEY PUCK images.

Hey, but who knows.  Given that surprises do happen, I’m open to the possibilities.

Surprise me.

About Benjamin Kanarek

Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…

  • Igor Dro

    I love umbrella lighting when it rains!

  • ha ha ha ha ha…you got me…when I started out, I had to have an umbrella too in my arse-nal. no, no. the shoddy stuff from India wouldnt do. so I had them arranged to be gotten from the land of the free & whatever else – Amreeka.

    four years down the line, I still carry them. sealed. recently felt bad that I hadnt used em…the silver lining had stuck the whole thing shut for good. cldnt open it. phew.

    but I still carry em…the two silver umbrellas. one big. one small. pity, they are no good when it rains.

  • Benjamin Kanarek


    It is not the tool, but how you use it and to which result that is important. I am not against umbrella’s, but the manner in which people assume that they must purchase one because everyone else does. You choose a tool to perform a task. If you don’t know the how and why to use it the results can be often petty lame.

  • ∑velina

    i have seen mert and marcus do lighting set-ups with umbrella lighting,
    and they are quite hot in the industry right now…

  • @:

    That really woke me up 😉

  • Yeah, all those Strobists are sooo totally out to lunch; I tried some white umbrellas and the shots look like they were taken by an epileptic, myopic monkey (oh wait… that’s me…. ). Totally useless technique; it has no place, especially for the location or traveling photographer. All images should be made with only natural light or in total darkness.


    Still awake? 😉

  • 🙂 This makes my ‘think of’ list shorter.. thank you for sharing!

  • T O P !!!!!