Catherine Hall on Modifiers, Flash, and Metering

If you showed up at a photo shoot and all of your modifiers were missing, except for one, which would you hope it would be?

My 4×6′ California Sunbounce. The large size and rigid frame give me consistently incredible soft light. Whether it’s a windy beach at sunset, a bright sunny day, or in a room with a window, it can give me a rim, key, or fill light anywhere. I even use it as a bounce for my strobes. The frame is extremely light and packs up small. I have even modified it for suitcase travel. And, why exactly, are all my other modifiers missing? 


Which do you prefer to work with on location: off-camera flashes or strobes with battery packs?

I always prefer my Profoto heads. The quality, intensity, and versatility of the light output gives me ultimate control in any difficult lighting environment. Of course, this also depends on the shoot. Sometimes discreet and fast shot setups are required, such as at a wedding. When moving quickly, strobes on light stands may not be the best solution.

Burning Man 2008

When you shoot off-camera flash, do you use Manual mode or TTL?

Manual mode—I meter with a Sekonic.

Is there a particular lighting accessory that you use a lot these days? 

Manfrotto light stands. I am always on the run so my stands must be easy to transport and use. Somehow these stands hold up under my constant onslaught of sandbags, strobe heads, and Sunbounces. Since they fold up flat and clip together, I take them everywhere.


If you could go back to the beginning of your career and tell yourself something about lighting, what would it be?

Don’t be scared. Lighting is fun and will open up a world of possibilities. During the beginning of my career, I was intimidated by artificial light mainly because I didn’t know how to use it. For a long time, I hid behind the mantra, “I’m a natural light shooter.” 

What’s the average number of flashes (or strobes) you use for a location portrait shoot?

Two. Different shoots have different needs. Sometimes I can be found with just my Sunbounce—or a generator with four strobes. And anything in between. 

Looking for Catherine’s favorite tool? You can find the Sunbounce here at B&H. Like what you just read? Be sure to follow Catherine on Twitter.