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4 fashion photo portraits with Andy Hoang and Profoto B10

Fashion and advertising photographer Andy Hoang had a unique vision when he started a shoot with Profoto equipment and a Phase One camera. As he says, he wanted to present the times of galloping technological progress with the addition of a cyberpunk impression. To bring out and show “that something”, the essence of an era in which people hide with technology.

Tell us more about yourself, who is Andy Hoang?
I am a British-born Vietnamese fashion and advertising photographer based in London. I would say my photography style is inspired by the subversive British culture of the 90’s and its unconventional beauty.

How did you get started with flashes and when did you decide to use them?
I became interested in photography quite late. In my early twenties, I needed a job and was introduced to event photography, which involved taking well-lit photos taken in dark and poorly lit nightclubs. After a period of working late weekend afternoons, I wanted to try photography for fun. So I asked a relative to borrow his photography equipment and flash so that I could shoot my friend. I quickly realized that I couldn’t rely on a TTL system when using flash in combination with natural light. I learned a lot about light positioning, its types (soft/hard) and flash power. It was my first experiment with lighting that ignited my passion for photography.

Do you have any tips for people who want to start using flash in their work? How did you get started?

When I started working with flashes, there was no one to guide me, so I had to learn on my own why the photos were overexposed or underexposed, what fill light and key light were, etc. But it’s not difficult. Only your approach to the topic determines how complicated it is. I was looking through photos in magazines and wondering how the lighting was controlled, whether it was hard or soft light, what tools were used to shape the light, etc. To understand it well, you should, for example, know what hard and soft light is. A clear, cloudless sky and strong sun are hard light. But when it is covered with delicate clouds, it is already soft light. The same applies to artificial lighting. Knowing these details as well as the compensation rules using the “exposure triangle” (aperture, ISO, shutter speed) are a solid foundation on which you will base your work. For example, you can take a look at magazines or advertising photos while shopping and see how professionals deal with lighting. Courses are an equally useful toolonline Profoto Academy . Unfortunately, I didn’t have this opportunity when I started, and I regret it very much.


What’s the best and worst thing about working with a large team in the studio? Tell us a little about what’s going on “behind the scenes” of the session?

The best thing about working with a large team is that you collaborate and create amazing photos with very creative people. You build relationships and solid foundations that will help you improve yourself as a creator in the long run. When I started photography, I was involved in many aspects of work on set. But it turned out that you don’t always have to do everything. You just need to stick to what you are best at. An inventive set designer, amazing hairdressers and make-up artists or a stylist are people who will help you take your work to a higher level.

I think the disadvantage is that not everyone always wants to do their best. There are creative differences in vision, a lack of chemistry or a clash of different, sometimes very strong, egos, which can stop the whole work. Fortunately, I don’t encounter this very often. It’s possible that I used to be more naive, but years of work have taught me to choose people I trust, whom I know and who have a similar vision of the end result.

What equipment did you use and how did it perform?

The equipment we used for this session was a mix of Profoto B10 and B10 Plus  with OCF modifiers, RFi softboxes and umbrellas. The lack of power cables reduced the risk of tripping, which lowered safety risks, and this made the job easier for our large team. Intuitive design and menus ensure ease of use and eliminate wasted time spent figuring out how to navigate the controls. The Phase One XF body worked seamlessly with lights with a built-in Profoto Air remote control.

Setup 1 – breaking the ice
This was our first setup for the day. The first meeting with a model is always an unknown, because most often it is a person you have not worked with before, so it is important to quickly build a positive relationship, which will make the photo session much easier. Fortunately, our models quickly adapted to the photo set. I placed the B10 and B10 Plus lamps with the OCF Octa Softbox on the left, and the Deep Silver XL umbrella with diffuser on the right. They were quite close to the model, which created a stronger shadow in the background. The key light was OCF gel directed towards several broken mirrors to give a diffused light effect on the face and background.

Setup 2 – creative photography at the moment
I saw this shot while my production designer was playing with the background lighting. The models realized that my camera was pointing down and quickly posed.

I used 4 lights in this shot. B10 with the OCF Octa Softbox pointing 45 degrees down on the left, B10 Plus with the OCF gel reflecting off the mirrors just off center, one B10 with the RFi Strip Softbox and one B10 Plus with the Deep Silver XL umbrella and diffuser on the right.

Setup 3 and 4 – use of special functions
Both setups below are very similar to the previous one, but I wanted to give even lighting to highlight the silvery underside of Coco’s foot, so the B10 Plus with the RFi Strip 1×4 Softbox was placed low in the middle. Again, the OCF gel was the key light, producing diffuse red light bouncing off the mirrors just off center.

What are your top 3 tips for aspiring fashion photographers?

1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
One of the main pieces of advice I can give, which applies not only to this question but to photography as a whole, is this: practice and don’t worry about making mistakes. It’s better to make mistakes while you’re practicing than when you’re already dealing with a client. Mistakes teach us and help us grow.

2. Network
Make contacts and work with creative people. Not only will this increase your self-confidence and open up your creativity, but it can also create prospects for future collaborations. For me, part of my job is meeting people at events or contacting them via messages on Instagram. Don’t be afraid of this. At most they will answer “no”, but that’s not a problem, you can deal with it.

3. Work with others
You are not alone. You need to work with others to develop yourself. Find a team that will take care of aspects such as styling and makeup to improve the standard of your work. You are not a one-man army. And the more people you cooperate with, the greater the chances that the effects of your work will be seen by a wider audience.

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