Tips for Run-and-Gun Photography and Working with Natural Light

In this episode of The Slanted Lens, Jay P. Morgan is running around downtown Los Angeles capturing some product photography. He demonstrates how he is able to create interesting compositions and work with natural light to get the most usable shots possible with just a camera and a reflector.

It can be challenging to do a run-and-gun style shoot, but sometimes you’re limited in time and/or budget, so you’ve just got to get out and make some pictures. A good eye for light, creativity, and a bit of luck all play a role in coming away with some good shots.

Morgan points out a couple of key tips along the way, which I’ll summarize a few of here. First, he is quick to use a 70-200mm lens so that he can blur out the background. Street settings can often be busy, and shooting with a long lens he is able to focus attention more onto his subject. Later, we find Morgan using a wider lens, but trying to adjust his angle relative to the subject so that he can isolate it from the background, sometimes by having blue sky behind the subject’s head.

Using a reflector works well when a small pop of extra light is needed on the product, which is hard to capture since it is black. A variety of lighting looks are achieved when Morgan shoots both into the sun (which produces a rim light on his subject) and also in an area of shade (where the light becomes very soft).

I’ve done a fair amount of run-and-gun style shooting myself, and the one thing I’ll point out that is a little overlooked here is having an assistant. Having a small backpack with additional lens choices is helpful, but also keep in mind that an assistant can carry that as well as the reflector. When focusing on taking pictures, it’s easy to get distracted and ignore hazards, like traffic, so definitely consider an assistant if you’re going to be working in an area like this so you can focus on creating successful images as much as possible.

More videos like these can be seen on The Slanted Lens YouTube channel.

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Mike Wilkinson is an award-winning video director with his company Wilkinson Visual, currently based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Mike has been working in production for over 10 years as a shooter, editor, and producer. His passion lies in outdoor adventures, documentary filmmaking, photography, and locally-sourced food and beer.

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1 Comment

I really enjoy all of the slanted lens videos that JP makes. I think that it is great to see how a real pro works and I really like his commentary. These videos really help me figure out what I should be looking for in my own photography to make my images even better.