Small Strobes, Big Results

By Derek PooreDavid X. Tejada's specialty, in his words, is "guys in ties." The internationally-known corporate location photographer shoots plenty of control rooms, boardrooms and oil rigs.

But Tejada said the digital conversion in photography during the past decade has breathed new life into his photography.

Tejada conducted his Small Strobes, Big Results workshop in March in Indianapolis, Ind.

I was one of a dozen students who broke out softboxes, umbrellas, speedlights and Pocket Wizards to photographed in Indy's historic Stutz Building.

As you might guess from the workshop title, Tejada — who along with me will be teaching at the Maine Media Workshops this summer — is big on small strobes. He said he has exclusively used Speedlights on location for about five years.

He travels with portable, but effective softboxes, umbrellas, grids, snoots and other light shapers that allow him to produce beautiful light using small strobes.

Tejada also loves bouncing light. He’ll bounce into and back out of umbrellas and panels. He will use gelled Speedlights to throw light at a wall and create a massive softbox to project light back onto his subject.

Positioning light, whether hard or soft, narrow or wide, and understanding how it will wrap around the subject is more important than what power the strobe is at, Tejada said, and that if it looks good, go with it.

“My power is adequate,” he joked on more than one occasion when a participant would ask how much power his strobe was pushing.

David Tejada photographs a model during his workshop (with an assist by Indy photographer Chris Bucher) in March 2010 in Indianapolis, Ind. - By Derek Poore

While his work takes Tejada to exotic locations throughout the year, he said at the workshop he loves the change of pace the instruction work gives him.

He has held workshops in his home state of Colorado and as far away as Saudi Arabia. He is also teaches his class regularly at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.

The workshop was a tremendous learning experience for me. The backdrop of the industrial, grungy Stutz Building — with its museum of cars and vacant spaces — was a pleasure to work in. You can’t help but see light differently after listening to Tejada’s instruction and watching him set up a shoot in person.


David Tejada