Love Thy Studio

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A studio portrait by Allen Cooley

I remember the first time I stepped into a studio. It was last year in McMaster, the school of visual arts and design here at USC (also my second home away from home). I was taking a film photography class for my minor. I was completely amazed. I didn’t expect it to look the way it did. A seamless green screen wall was built, there were a few director’s chairs, and all shoes were piled next to the door since they were strictly not allowed on the green. We were in groups of three or four and we were equipped with 35mm cameras and a single roll of film. The assignment: art direct your model as you both pretend that you’ve never seen a camera.

Fast forward to last semester and I’m in the Journalism School’s studio for the first time. It’s smaller than the one in McMaster, but there’s more equipment to work with – at least to my knowledge. For my advanced photography class, our first assignment was to use the product table. A later assignment was fashion photography, which is when I realized how much I liked working in the studio.

An upcoming assignment in my lighting class is to take studio portraits based off of a publication of our choosing. For the fashion assignment, I based my work off of Allen Cooley’s. I love the general feel of his work and I love the colors he uses in the studio. This time around, I’m thinking about basing my shoot on Forbes or GQ magazine covers. The covers are very powerful and very different from Cooley’s work. His work is what I tend to go for when photographing others, and I want to be able to do different things behind the camera.

I’m really excited to be back in the studio with more knowledge of how lighting set ups work and with more confidence. I still have a little trouble with lighting, but the main reason I took this class is because I struggled with it previously (and because I saw the description of the course two years ago and was dying to take it). I’m hoping to produce excellent content with this assignment. I’m a little nervous about using three light sources and trying a new style of photography, but I believe those nerves will push me to become a better photographer.

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