[BTS Video] Free Falling With Joao Carlos

Hasselblad Master, Joao Carlos, was featured on the Profoto Blog last week for his free falling studio images. That's right, studio images. Not underwater images. I met Joao in NYC last fall at PDN PhotoPlus and fell in love with his portfolio right away. He always lights his subjects with a minimalist approach and his workflow is powerful and consistent.

Profoto: How did you set the lights in the studio?

Joao: “Well, since I wanted to recreate the sun at midday on a cloudy day, I put the Softbox 3x4’ RF directly above Katy and plugged it into the Pro- 7a. I had two black boards to flag off the light. I also had two Westcott reflectors on the floor – one 5-in-one, utilizing the silver side, and a larger Scrim Jim silver.”

Profoto: How did this help your make it look as if you shot underwater?

Joao: “When you actually shoot with strobes underwater, it looks fake. I tried to do the opposite: make it look real by faking it. So I removed the diffusor from the Softbox 3x4’ RF, which created a light that was still soft, but with an extra bit of depth and contrast. The size of the softbox was perfect to just cover her body, and the black boards flagged off any excess spillage and helped me keep my image sharp. Finally, the silver reflectors below gave me a nice, speckled feeling. They also lightened up the shadows enough to make the viewer believe I was really shooting underwater.”

Profoto: As mentioned before, we fell for it. In addition, we were quite surprised to hear that Joao had kept postproduction to a minimum.

Joao: “There is actually no major editing done,” says Joao. “Just a simple image tone. I think the big trick here was Katy’s baggy clothing, which flowed just perfectly. The storm gray backdrop, which had some humidity issues, also helped. Finally, the soft, reflected light really helped me bring out the same sense of levity that you normally only get from shooting underwater.”

Profoto: What about the bubbles?

Joao: “That is actually powder. Our original plan was to use colored paint powder, but after being suspicious of the toxicity of the paint, we decided to go with an edible powder product instead. Well, Katy actually insisted on using the colored paint powder right up until she got a ton of it in her eye and swallowed some…”

via the Profoto Blog

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Kinda confused by the black boards, seems to me like the side facing the subject are not black.

Sean Shimmel's picture

Impeccable, original visional and craftsmanship... with a wee bit of confusion with the lighting diagram (which way/how/where is that light facing?) 

That's awesome, it's me in the video. Throwing the flour.. Lol.
Great work as always joao , I was glad to be apart of this.

This is cool!
I happened to have done some jumping self-portraits last night with sb-600s and a Nikon D5100.

Am I the only one that didn't think this was supposed to mimic underwater photography (from reading the headline and looking at the image)? I also didn't realize the powder was supposed to be bubbles until I read the copy ... 

TBH, I don't think this looks even remotely close to underwater photography. It looks ... vaguely similar? 

Gregory's picture

Anyone know who did that version of Free Falling?

Gregory's picture

Thanks Eric!

Pretty incredible. :)