Originally from the beaches of Treasure Island FL, Valind always had a camera growing up. “It’s paradise. Photography was always in my life. My mother was very artistic and a talented amateur photographer. And my grandfather ran his own successful commercial photography studio in Green Bay WI. It’s second nature that I’m a photographer.”

Growing up skimboarding and surfing with friends, it was only natural he carried a camera to document their adventures. Returning from trips, Valind learned the impact photographic storytelling had on people who couldn’t make the trip. After an early career of shooting weddings and products, he quickly realized if he weren’t shooting what he loved, he would never be happy.

"Active lifestyle outdoor photography” is where Valind wants to be. “I photograph what I love, and that keeps me engaged,” he says.

Moving to New York changed Valind’s subject matter. He began shooting indoor portraits of athletes, which sharpened his artificial lighting skills.

 

 

“Indoor portrait work has a lot in common with what I shoot on beaches. You have to have a mastery of lighting, whether natural or artificial, but you want to capture the perfect candid moments,” Valind explains. “When you have artificial lighting, once you dial in your values, there’s a lot less time spent tinkering and more on photography. You can spend time putting your subject at ease to get the great shots.”

“We need to set a stage and lighting for our subject. If I’m shooting someone who is not a professional model, I want to give them some freedom of movement so they don’t feel nailed down, or only looking in one direction. I’ll go broader with my light, using natural window light, more fill light so even if I have directional shadows, they’re filled in and not as contrasty. Once I get the lighting right, the stage is set. No matter where they move, they’re going to look good.”

 

 

The stage and how his subjects move or don’t move on it is a critical component of how Valind shoots indoors. “If I’m indoors and using a window light, I’ll bring in strobe or reflector so they have freedom to move. I do the same thing outdoors. I try to find an area where I can let the sun do the work lighting the scene, and then I’ll bring in a strobe or a big reflector. I position them so when the athlete or model is hitting their spot or in their stride, they will be in the properly lit area. That’s my first process. I always figure out if they’re going to need more freedom of movement and range. If not, and they’re pro models, I can go more focused and contrasty, adding more character to the light, because I know they can take more direction and still give me a great expression.”

 

 

When traveling to location shoots or other studios, Valind relies on two bags. Tenba 48" Rolling Tripod/Grip Case. “Having the wheels is a lifesaver because this grip bag gets heavy,” he says. “I can pack a lot in there. Two or three strobes, a 6x6 diffusion and 6x6 silver white big bounce. I can have smaller reflectors in there, a big octabank, a small octabank, a couple of P40s, like smaller, harder reflectors.”  His other bag is a Tenba Transport Air Wheeled Case Attache 2520W. “It fits two or three Broncolor strobes and the weight and mobility is still good for travel,” Valind states. “These give me a pretty versatile natural light kit and strobe light kit that fits in those two Tenba bags. They come everywhere with me.” In this way, Valind brings an efficient strobe kit and natural light kit to jobs using these Tenba rollers to travel through airports alone, his backpack full of bodies and lenses, meeting local assistants on location.

 

 

“I’m totally self-sufficient traveling with my gear this way,” he adds. “I used to have the stress of overthinking and overpacking; the fear of forgetting something. The worry about finding the bags to get my gear to the shoot efficiently. I’m at a good place now because I don’t have to worry about those things any longer.”

 

Erik Valind

ERIK VALIND

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