Erich Caparas was born in the Philippines but grew up in Northern Virginia /Washington DC area. He has a degree in Economics and Engineering. Professionally, he worked as a graphics designer/photographer in Washington DC and New York. Having started photography in 1977 way before digital, back in the film days. He did all his film processing and darkroom work.
Erich is quick to admit being lucky to be on the forefront of the digital age. He beta tested Photoshop and consulted with them when they introduced layers in 1993-94. Being on the cutting edge of technology gave him an opportunity to work with some of the best clients in the industry. Notable ones: National Geographic, Mobil, Smithsonian Institution, Discovery Channel, Victoria Secret, Ringling Brothers / Barnum and Bailey, Siegfried and Roy, and the White House. Erich has kept his techniques and skills up to date and shares his 40+ years of experience in photography on workshops. He says: “I travel around the world teaching both amateur and professional photographers take their photography to the next level.”
Lighting and Creativity
It’s not a secret that the secret to great photographs is lighting. Whether ambient or artificial the lighting can make or break a photograph.
I practically grew up in a studio and had been fortunate enough to have had great mentors in lighting. I remember taking days to get the lighting just the way we wanted. In the film days, you didn’t get to see your images until the film was processed so we never moved anything until the perfect shot was taken.
In some ways, I still have the same habits today. The first thing I do is I decide whether the shot is going to be a light or a dark image then I set up my lights accordingly. I don’t position my lights then shoot everything with that same setup. My lighting is adjusted per pose, per outfit, and per subject (model). Then I modify the lighting depending on the mood and the drama I am after. It is very important to have reliable lighting equipment. It is also important that the lights work with each other. By that I mean, color temperature, wattage, and functionality. I always modify my lights therefore the ease of changing accessories is also very important.
I don’t light for the sake of getting an image lit. Each and every light I use must have a purpose. Some of my images may look basic but upon close inspection may reveal usage of up to 6 lights. I use light to paint the subject, outline its perimeter, and ‘pop’ it to get that almost 3 dimensional look. My signature look comes from using lighting to make it part of the concept and the art. This type of blending is what I call chemistry. The interaction of light and color to matter is what gives it form; the concept, story, and emotion is the bridge to the art form. With so many lights you really need to have chemistry because without it, you will have chaos.
I am still a student of lighting. I’m constantly experimenting to come up with creative ways on breaking the rules of lighting for the purpose of discovering a unique new signature look. I still have a long journey ahead of me, and I do not know what lies ahead, but this I know for sure: my path will be well lit.