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Historic hotel and subway escalator: photo studio for Fabian Wester and his Profoto A1

Fabian Wester, a fashion and lifestyle photographer based in Stockholm, does not have his own studio. However, he has a great ability to improvise, thanks to which he turned the historic Berns Hotel and the metro escalators into a photography studio for himself and his Profoto A1 – the world’s smallest studio lamp.

Photography has always been an adventure for Fabian. He became a full-time photographer in 2013 after a 5400km journey from Stockholm to Mongolia. Before this trip, Fabian photographed club life, taking pictures of artists and audiences, and the results of his work allowed him to create one of the largest nightlife websites in Sweden.

“I love evoking emotions through my photos, spontaneously capturing real life,” he says. “Travelling around the world, during which I can get to know new cities, cultures and nature, and meet inspiring people is a bonus that photography gives.”

100.000 photos with flash
Fabian, an experienced flash user, estimates that he has taken over 100.000 photos using it in clubs and festivals. “Flash is a natural part of my shooting style,” he says. “Flash often saves me a shot in poor lighting and in situations where there are lights with extreme temperatures in the frame. For example, with warm light inside the room and cold light outside the windows, using a flash allows you to get the right skin color in your subjects.”

“At the same time, it’s great fun and allows you to achieve a completely different look. I once photographed a large outdoor event. Using the flash allowed me to get stronger shots, even though the sun allowed me to work freely in natural light.”

During our first conversation, we asked Fabian if he would like to test the new Profoto A1 – the smallest studio lighting in the world – in a session titled “The World is My Studio”. Fabian approached our project with great enthusiasm.

“I have long appreciated the design and quality of Profoto equipment. It’s very important to me that I can trust the tools I use, and that’s always been the case with Profoto products,” he says. “Many of my frames cannot be reproduced in a studio setting. I only have one chance to get a good shot!”

The world is Fabian’s studio
Fabian really liked the idea, which supports the idea of ​​making the world his studio and which he has been implementing every day so far. “I don’t have my own studio, but the world around is full of beautiful places, and we are only limited by our creativity,” he says. “They are all inspiring, from the time-worn concrete wall to the red velvet curtain at the Berns Hotel. Best of all, almost all of these places are completely free to visit. And with the support of Profoto A1, you have the largest photo studio in the world at your disposal!”

As part of the project, Fabian invited model Lisa Tellbe to the historic Berns Hotel in Stockholm, where ornate ceilings and the aforementioned red velvet curtains were used as a magical backdrop for the photo shoot.

“In the first frame, I wanted to show the beauty of the model,” he explains. “I didn’t know much about the ‘golden room’ in the hotel. It turned out they had beautiful red velvet curtains that were perfect for this photo.”

“I used a Protofo A1 installed on camera with a Soft Bounce modifier for a soft bounce and a second Profoto A1 with a dome diffuser aimed at the curtain behind Lisa. This allowed the background color to be better exposed. Both A1s were controlled A1 on camera.”

Ready to work in seconds.
“Thanks to the easy-to-use screen and logical interface, I was able to get the equipment up and running in just a few seconds,” says Fabian. “And connecting accessories with a magnetic attachment gave me more confidence and looked much more professional than Velcro connections, which I could never fully trust.”

Fabian also noticed that the round flash gave a very natural and even light. “The TTL mode worked very well and gave a good exposure, which I could increase or decrease without any problems. And the Soft Bounce modifier produced light close to what you could get in the studio with a softbox!”

In the second frame, Fabian planned to obtain a stronger light and changed the angles of the light. “The zoom ring on the head allows you to change the reflector settings inside the lamp,” he notes. “I chose an enlarged light beam to achieve sharper lighting and create more pronounced shadows.”

Ease of use supports creativity.
The third photo was not planned at all. Fabian took Lisa to the subway and when they both reached the station, he had a sudden epiphany. “I imagined a picture of Lisa sitting on a shiny, long escalator,” he explains. “It was great fun, I’ve never photographed in a place like this before!”

Wanting to add character to the photo, Fabian used one Profoto A1 as a radio trigger on the camera, while the other A1 was used as a light source. “I held the lamp in my hand, which allowed for angled lighting to highlight the shadows and contours of Lisa’s face.”

In taking the last frame, the convenience of using A1 was the key to success – without it, Fabian might not have taken this photo. “A large, clear screen with a simple and logical interface makes using the lamp extremely easy. I didn’t even have to read the owner’s manual!”

“It’s the ease of use that makes you want to try things you’ve never done before,” he says. “If something is complicated, you may not even try to take the photo because it will take too much time or energy to prepare. When equipment is simple and fun to use, you use it more often, testing new techniques and ideas.”

His new machine
Fabian says that Profoto A1 is a tool he will use every day and he can’t wait for his next session with it. “No more fighting with equipment! Moreover, having a complete set with all the necessary accessories is a great solution. I don’t like it when the tool I use limits my creativity. The equipment should be operated without any problems. Thanks to the efficient battery in the A1, I no longer have to juggle AA batteries, which I never trusted, and the lamp itself is ready to work at any time.

“After testing the Profoto A1, I realized that it truly made the whole world my studio. Now I can create photos with studio light wherever I want,” he adds. “Profoto has created a small lamp that is everything I need.”

Further projects with Profoto A1 are already planned
Fabian plans to use the Profoto A1 together with the Profoto B1 light, as well as the A1 alone during festival sessions. He even already has an idea of ​​specific frames.

“The Profoto Air Remote system makes it very easy to connect the lamp to additional A1s and other Profoto lamp models in just a few seconds. My old lamps synchronized using infrared, which meant that the individual elements had to be able to see each other and made it impossible to place an additional light source in a hidden place.”

“Thanks to the 300-meter range, I can now completely freely place one A1 behind a DJ playing in a club and take shots from a distance and still enjoy great light,” he says. “When I photograph at festivals and clubs, both the direction and color of the lighting change very often. Now I can freely control my light source, which is extremely useful in situations like this.”

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