Lumunaut Story #63: director of photography Boris Popovic
As a child, I wanted to be a fireman, astronaut and medical doctor. Today, I am a lighting designer.
I shot my first roll of 6x9 cm photographic film at the age of 11, during a school trip, using one very, very old Voightlander camera. It was in 1966. My uncle gave me some basic instructions about composition and exposure. If it is sunny, use 125 and f 8 (or something like that). For the next ten years, I used two more cameras: Russian 6x6 cm Ljubitelj and East German Practica (Leica format). These cameras did not have any built-in light meters, so I exposed by eye and was quite succesful in that, even with reversal color slide films.
After high school, I studied and graduated cinematography at Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb. During the second year of studies, I bought my first light meter, Seconic Studio DeLuxe, and I used the same model for the next 40 years. Then, a few months ago, I switched to Lumu Power.
So, I started as a photographer, I am a photographer, and I make photographs. But photography is not my profession. My profession is lighting design. When I am not designing the light for TV shows, I try to do something creative, but different. I take photographs.
YOUR PERSONAL STORY WITH PHOTOGRAPHY IN 12 WORDS
Why are you so photography-centric? Light measurement is not only for photographers. Cinematographers and lighting directors / designers, also use light meters. In fact, I think that light meters are used more in these professions than in photography.
During my studies, I discovered the importance of light and lighting for all kinds of image making. After graduation, I got a job as a lighting director at the Croatian national television. I sayed there for fifteen years, working as lighting director, cinematographer and director of photography. Today, I am teaching lighting design at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, the same school I graduated from, and at the same time I am working as a lighting designer for TV shows and corporate events.
Measuring light is very important for me. Usually I set the lighting for a TV shows long before any camera arrives at the set. I need to set correct lighting levels to achieve targeted f-stop on the camera. I have to set proper lighting ratios between light sources, and I need to be sure that overall lighting intensities do not vary too much. A good light meter makes me feel safe.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
In lighting design, I am trying to produce an image that will be in accord with the needs and type of production. In news productions, I try to make people look good. In entertainment shows, I try to make the set and performers glamorous, and I try to produce as many different and attractive lighting looks as possible.
In photography, I am looking for opportunities to make interesting compositions of the ordinary things I see in my surroundings: reflections in a window, objects on the table. I try not to move anything, I am looking for the right camera angle instead. I do a lot of self-portraits (I do not consider them selfies), but I rarely photograph other people.
THE CRAZIEST THING YOU HAVE EVER DONE AS A PHOTOGRAPHER? HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN YOURSELF IN TROUBLE?
In a big, live broadcast TV show I had to light an alternative rock band, known for provocative texts in their songs. It was their first time on national television, they were forced to play on playback, and they were uncomfortable with that. They were afraid the audience will notice they are not playing live. So we agreed I will light them only from the back, and leave their faces in the dark. Next day in the newspaper a critic said that TV was trying to censor the band by not lighting them.
WHAT'S IN YOUR CAMERA BAG?
Ansel Adams once said that the best camera is the one you have with you. It is true not only for cameras, but for all kind of equipment. Today we all have our phones always with us, so the best equipment is the one you have on your phone. For me, the best light meter is the one I can always have with me: Lumu Power.
I have a professional bag, but it is not exactly a camera bag:
- I design my lighting using 3D visualisation software, and I need to make a 3D model of every location and set I need to light. That is why my Leica laser meter is always in my bag.
- In the bag is also a Tiffen color-contrast viewing glass. I use it to protect my eyes when looking into the lights during focusing.
- I also have my iPad Air 2 in the bag, to read my lighting plots.
- Lumu Power is also in the bag, of course.
And one item to link them all is not in the bag, but in the pocket: the iPhone, loaded with useful apps.
IF YOU COULD CARRY ONLY 4 PIECES OF EQUIPMENT TO A PARALLEL UNIVERSE (NO PHOTO EQUIPMENT ON THE OTHER SIDE) FOR A YEAR, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Always try to feel if there is anything in your work that does not feel right? If you find something, try to correct it.
ANSEL ADAMS OR ANNIE LEIBOVITZ OR MARTIN PARR OR ALEC SOTH?
Annie Leibowitz, but also Seichi Furuya, Jean Loup Sief and André Kertész.
LINKS OR ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE
Nothing right now.