Nothing Beats the Classics

Last week at Photoshop World I was sitting in the keynote watching all of the fun stuff going on and having a really good time.  But it’s not all fun and games.  There is some serious stuff that happens in the keynote as well including the Guru Awards, The Vincent Versace Award for Photographic Excellence, and the presentation of the Dean Collins Scholarship Award, which is presented to an outstanding Educator.  This award was created to honor the memory of the late, great Dean Collins.  If you aren’t sure who Dean Collins is, that means you probably weren’t into studio lighting in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  Dean was the guru of lighting but beyond that, he was a fantastic educator.

He was also a pioneer in digital imaging and education, aligning with companies like Adobe in the 90’s to help merge the art of photography and lighting with the newly emerging digital image processing market.  Viewed in this video from a 1998 video magazine, Dean discusses the future of digital and its impact on photography and the market.  It’s actually pretty scary how intuitive he was in predicting the current climate of digital imaging, wedding photography, and stock photography.

The other reason I bring up Dean Collins is that yesterday I had an opportunity to revisit a couple of his training videos from the series called “The Best of Dean Collins on Lighting”.  Even though it was readily apparent that the video was made in the late 80’s, the lighting techniques that he was demonstrating were still viable even in today’s world of digital cameras and speed lights.  Dean was a master at simplifying his lighting setups to achieve beautiful images with the bare minimum of equipment.  One shoot involved a location portrait of a female TV newscaster and her horse.  He shot the whole thing with natural light using big diffusion panels. It was very reminiscent of techniques that you might catch Joe McNally teaching at one of his present day seminars.  I think it just goes to show that a knowledge of photography and lighting is something that is timeless and if you have an understanding of these principles, it doesn’t matter so much what gear you are using because the techniques themselves are still pretty much the same.  If you want to see more from Dean Collins you can find a few videos on YouTube (just do a search on his name and you’ll find a bunch of content).  You can also still purchase his Best of series, re-mastered on DVD from Software Cinema (the company he helped create).


  1. thanks for recogizing Dean. In the late 80’s I worked for Fullers and we did a couple of shows with Dean. I still use the principles he taught. Please think about a photo walk at the Folklife Festival

  2. hey guys, thank for the excellent information.


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