Quavondo’s Lighting Techniques Volume 2

I was driving a couple months ago and the thought of writing the second book on my lighting techniques came to mind. The thought stayed with me for about a couple of minutes until Avicii’s Wake Me UP came on, I started rocking out, the thought slipped away. That was the last time I’d thought about it until this morning when I received this email.


I just finished reading your book. It is WONDERFUL! The information is clear and well organized. The text compliments the images and diagrams extremly well. In particular I find that your “voice” is friend, fun and honest. Including the stories about mistakes you made (leaving your slave at home etc) creates you on level with others who have done the same. They will, I think, make it easier for a shooter to look for a work~around instead of freezing up in a panic. Also, having to change a plan and idea on the fly when circumstances change will have the same effect especially for the beginning or novice getting started. Another valuable piece of instruction and information is about the use of on camera flash as is the natural light and clip lamp information. It shows that great photography is possible on a very small budget and the book has no feel of “brand” selling. 

In closing, I can say that if I were to teach again, I would use your book as the book to teach lighting. It would be wonderful to find such books for photoshop etc.

I remain most sincere,”



Thank you Jacqueline for the wonderful email. In a World where you usually only hear from people when they aren’t happy with the product, it’s rewarding to get an email such as this. Perhaps it is time to start on volume 2. 

Quavondo’s Lighting Book is Best Seller on PhotoWhoa


I am truly flattered, PhotoWhoa recently did a review on my lighting book and had good things to say about it. They liked it so much that they are now carrying it. Good news for you if you’ve wanted to get a hold of my lighting book but haven’t gone around to it. It’s currently available in PDF format at PhotoWhoa for $5! I’m also proud to say that it’s one of their best sellers! It’s available until Oct. 25th. Don’t miss out!

Signed paperbacks are also available for purchase through me.



Quavondo’s Photography Lighting Techniques Book with Images and Light Set-ups

There are so many how to books out there on photography lighting, why is mine any different?

When I started photography, I reached out to many photographers in my community for help and guidance, most were standoffish and secretive about their techniques. One said that I could come on set and assist but that I would also have to pay him. To this day, I wish I would have kept that email so I could remember the photographer’s name. There were a few who welcomed me with open arms and let me come on their shoots, but our styles were very different, I ended up going on my own after a shoot or two. I would like to take this time to thank those photographers: Steve Bloch, Joni Kabana, Dan Tyrpak, Pete Springer, and Manny Minjarez who’s style was close to what I wanted. Even though I had just started and had no “style,” I knew in my mind what I wanted to create, I just didn’t know how to execute it. So I resorted to searching for books on fashion photography and lighting. It was a long road to find that golden goose. Most of the book that I came across, the author had a good grasp on the technical side but for some reason it didn’t translate over to their photography, what I found were books with awful sample images and I would think to myself, “Why would I spend $40 to try and replicate how to make these ugly photos?” Just like we all know how a free throw is made in basketball. You have to have the right motion of the arm, the right flick of the wrist, right amount of power and arch in the throw to get the ball into the basket, and we can sit there and explain it to someone over and over, but if you can’t do it yourself why would they listen to you? I never did find that golden goose. I ended up just learning through trial and error. I bought three strobes and locked myself into my spare bedroom and shot with models for 30 days straight. I made sure that the lighting was different for each shoot. In that month, I started to develop my own style.

Through that process, I developed a sense of protection on what I learned and maybe this was the case with the photographers who didn’t want to help me. They too, learned their craft through much blood and sweat. A year after starting photography I landed an interview for an internship in New York City with a high profile photography team. I flew out there, stayed in a hostel, went to the interview, they offered me the internship 15 minutes later. I had 3 pairs of underwear and no place to live, regardless I said YES! I thought this was going to be my big break, a chance of a life time to learn from one of the best. I called my wife of just a year to tell her the news, she cried. She was very happy for me but it meant that we would be on opposite coasts for at least 3 months. We talked and felt like it was the best thing for my photography.

Three months went by. I was nothing more than a personal assistant. We had only two photoshoots. I wasn’t taught a thing. Scratch that, I didn’t learn a thing related to photography, what I did learn during this period in NYC would later change my life for the better (and I also made two awesome friends for life!). After my internship I was offered a position to run their studio, I declined. I didn’t want the shackles, I would have been at their beck and call 24/7. I’m not joking. I had a hard decision to make, should I move back to Portland after three months of not getting anywhere? Or should I stay in New York and see what I could do on my own? After deliberating with the wife, I stayed. It was a long year but I grew as a person.

After moving back to Portland I had a shift in my mentality. I saw what my life could end up like as a high profile celebrity photographer, to be self absorb, selfish, and how depressing my life could be if I lived for myself. I started accepting interns and teaching other photographers what I knew, and making sure that I actually helped them and not use them as personal errand staff. I started creating BTS, how to videos and teaching workshops. This is where I started being selfish, in a good way. Teaching others was very rewarding, the joy and gratitude that they express makes fulfills my soul. This is when it occurred to me that I was in a good spot in my career to write a book on photography lighting. I have a big enough collection of images in different genres to be able to create a book that I’ve been searching for since I first started photography. The golden goose.

At its core, this is an easy-to-use technical handbook with lighting set-ups and simple tips you can implement right now to improve your lighting. Each chapter focuses on a type of lighting (e.g. one-strobe, four-strobes, camera flash, natural light, hot lights). At its heart, this book and its images are meant to inspire you, with a candid look into the background and thought behind each creative concept, and the amusing realities of bringing an idea to life.

There is a wide variety of imagery in this book, 50 to be exact shot both indoors and out, ranging from lifestyle, to beauty, to sports, to fashion, to portraits, to commercial work, so all photographers can benefit from the demonstrated techniques. Anyone looking to make the move from amateur to professional will find this an invaluable resource. Professionals looking to kick-start the creative juices will find inspiration and perhaps new lighting techniques to improve and simplify their process. Novice photographers may wish to familiarize themselves with the glossary terms first, but rest assured, this book minimizes jargon and maximizes utility.

I want to thank Zemotion (Jingna Zhang) and Solstice Retouch (Pratik Naik) for taking the time to review my book and writing a foreword in it. Both of your talents are amazing and to have your respect is truly humbling. Thank you for your support. Here’s what they both had to say about the book (click on the image to get a better resolution).

Zemotion's Foreword

Pratik's Foreword

I also want to thank Corey Michaud for putting together the elements for the lighting diagrams, without those I wouldn’t have any way to share my lighting set-ups. And most of all, thank you Lindsay Michelet for your endless editing of the book and content direction, you make me sound smarter than I really am, and less of a smart ass than I really am.

You can find Quavondo’s Photography Lighting Techniques on Amazon. Here’s a preview of the book:

  • 132 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1466463844
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.3
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

Book CoverInner SpreadTable of ContentsIntroductionZemotion's ForewordPratik's ForewordInner Spread 1Inner Spread 2Inner Spread 3

Here are 25 of the 50 images that are dissected within this book:

Some of the Images From the Book

This book is also available as an eBook for the Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad, etc.

Here’s what it looks like on the iPad:

iPad Book CoveriPad Inner PagesiPad Inner Diagram

For the Kindle Fire:

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.38.26 PMScreen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.41.25 PMScreen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.41.01 PM

For the Kindle:

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.42.40 PMScreen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.43.15 PM

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.47.43 PM

Signed book with a personalized note is available for a limited time. Price is $50. Please send inquiries to q@quavondo.com. Only 25 signed books are available for the Christmas rush. First come first served. I need to know who to make the book out to and also a link to their photography if they are a photographer. I handle and ship all personalized book orders.

If you’re not a photographer, get it for the photographer in your life. Trust me, they will thank you. They will love it. Please remember to rate my book as well. Thank you for your love and support.

Also an oversight on my part, the photo of me in my book is one of my favorites to date and I forgot to give credit to Bryce Lewis for taking the shot. Great job buddy!

Wonderful Machine Spotlight

What a “wonderful” Machine way to start the new year! I was featured on their site and I guess they figured out how to describe me in three sentences or less. HAHAA. They sent out an email promo yesterday to about 4,000 clients across the world. Thank you Wonderful Machine.

I had a great end to my year and took some time to reflect and now I’m SO ready for 2012! I know it’s just another day, but a start to something new is always rejuvenating! There are a lot of things that I want to do this year and am excited to share with you all.

In case you’re wondering, I’m still making minor tweaks to the Photography Lighting book, I want it to be perfect and beneficial for you guys. So I’m triple checking. Expect it around Chinese New Year. (for those who don’t know when that is, it’s the end of January.) =)

Thank you! Happy New Year!


Quavondo’s Photography Lighting Book

Some of you may know, I’ve been working hard on my book the past month and it’s almost done! I’m very excited and can’t wait to share with you. I have no doubt that you’ll love this book. Here’s the cover and the inside title page. I should be done with it by the end of the year and you’ll be able to get a copy in January.

Photography Lighting Book

I’m really excited to announce that I’m writing a photography lighting book! I’ve been keeping this under wraps for a while now and I’ve actually taken a little hiatus from shooting to work on this book. It’s almost done and I anticipate it being available by Christmas.

When I started photography, I searched high and low for a book that would help me get to the next level with no such luck. I would see a cool book cover and get all excited, only to open up the book and see the worse sample imagery ever. What I began to realize is that, just because someone understands the technical side of photography, it doesn’t mean that they can actually apply it. That’s what was going on with these photographers/authors. Like I understand the mechanics of shooting a basketball, but it doesn’t mean that I’ll be drilling three point shots with ease.

So now I’m at a point in my career where I’m able to give back to the photography community by writing the book that I’ve been looking for. If you’re a photographer looking to learn more about lighting, this book will get you there. Even if you’re not a photographer, you will find it interesting because it dives into the backstory of every image before telling you how it was created. I’m looking forward to sharing with you.

Here are some questions that I have, please take a moment to answer. Thank you for your candidness.

How to Light for Headshots

The three most common areas of focus that photographers get into when getting into photography are headshots, senior portraits, and weddings because it’s the easiest route to make money plus you don’t have the pressure of a big budget production that normally goes into fashion/commercial photography. The problem however, is that since it’s an easy way for new photographers to make money, there are an over abundance of photographers offering these services in the marketplace.

So how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd? 

Today I’ll focus on headshots: 
Get to know your client before the shoot. Make sure you know what type of roles your client tend to get. If your actor is a comedian, you certainly wouldn’t want to give him headshots that look all serious and vice versa. 

Make sure the background is not distracting, then really knock the background out by shooting with a smaller F-stop (wider aperture). Next focus on your client’s outfits, avoid patterns or anything too out there. Solid colors are usually the best, but make sure the color complements the skin and the background. 

Even though they are actors, most aren’t comfortable being in front of a still camera. Your job as a photographer is to capture their essence, but if they are stiff and uncomfortable, it will certainly show up in the pictures. Talk to them, make jokes, ease their mind so that they’re no longer thinking about the shoot. 

Avoid shooting in direct sun. If there’s no place to hide and it’s your only option, shoot with the sun at their 3/4 back so that it rims part of their body and head. Use a reflector in front on the opposite side of the sun at 3/4 to your subject as well to create subtle shadows on their face. If you put the reflector right in front of your subject, the light will be flat. 

Most of the time you won’t be shooting headshots in the desert, so you’ll be able to find shade to hide under or wait for an overcast day, the World will then be a large softbox. 

Here’s a shot in natural light. 

Shooting in natural light is the easiest option, but if you want more control over the light, you can pack lightly (no pun intended). You can get away with 1 light, but I prefer 2 lights sometimes 3 so the image is not too one dimensional. 

Here’s a shot with 2 lights so you can compare it with the natural light.

The main light is 3/4, to the left of the actor. The back light is twice the distance away and a usually a stop or two higher than the main light to create the rim effect.

Nowadays, people are starting to break away from the vertical headshot (which I still prefer because actors usually paperclip their resume to their headshots, hence the casting directors don’t have to turn the image to read the resume). If you go horizontal, don’t center your subject in the frame. Avoid cropping too much off the top of the head, casting directors like to know what the hair looks like.


Give your client options. Back out and shoot a few 3/4 body shots so they can use as secondary headshots for those times where they have to show the casting directors their physique. 

I hope this was helpful for those who are looking to do headshots.