All About the Joker

By Romy Ashby

Adrien Broom lights her whimsical series “The Color Project” with the Joker Bug 800, taking viewers on an exploration of imaginative worlds, each based on a color.

K5600’s Peter Bradshaw says he finds talking about products boring. He much prefers discussing the people who use them. And while the Joker has been a mainstay in TV and film since its inception in 1992, Bradshaw notes that over the last three years, certain photographers have only recently been discovering them. “We call them ‘filming photographers,’” he says. “And the reason they’ve discovered us is that clients are saying, ‘While you’re at it, can you give us a little motion for the Web?’ So photographers often have to shoot both at the same time, on the same set, with the same lights, getting it all done at once—and they can do it. Especially since our little lights look and behave just like flash heads, which they’ve been using forever.”

Joker Bug 800
Among the people Bradshaw suggested we meet is New York–based food photographer Ben Fink, who, after years of photographing still life, had a sudden inspiration during an Eggo Waffle shoot. “I turned to my client and said, ‘You know, I’d like to buy a RED camera and shoot motion.’” His client later invited him to direct the new campaign, and that’s where it started. Favoring the 800 and 1600, Fink bought his own Jokers after one rental, finding both the lights and accessories exemplary. The willingness of K5600 to hear suggestions is another plus for him. “I feel like I have their ear bent,” he says. “It’s just a great collaboration.”

Miami-based Brian Smith describes the Joker, which he first used while appearing on The X Factor, as “beautifully designed yet built like a tank.” Using a Joker Bug 800 and Crossover Adapter, he shot with the same Profoto modifiers he uses with strobe, while the TV crew filmed motion simultaneously in the same light. “K5600 really hit a home run with the Joker Bug 1600,” Smith says. “It kicks out more light than a 5K Tungsten lamp, yet can still run off a 15 amp 110 volt line.” 

That low-wattage detail is one of the reasons Craig Samuel invested in his K5600 HMIs three years ago. “They produce the most powerful and most natural light there is,” he says. “And they plug into a standard wall plug.” As the owner of the busiest full-service still and motion studio in Toronto, in addition to being a photographer himself, Samuel wanted lights that could take some abuse in the rental department and still continue to work. Thanks to the Joker’s tank-like construction, he’s not been disappointed.

© Adrien Broom
Broom’s young protagonist captures fireflies in the light-filled yellow world.

Then there’s the magician-like Adrien Broom, Brooklyn-based and working out of an old Erector Set factory in Connecticut. For her work-in-progress, The Color Project, she’s creating a series of elaborate sets—eight in all and taking a year to complete—to tell the story of a young girl traveling through worlds in which everything is a single color. Shooting both still and motion—while staging at least six different parts of a story within each set—she needed lighting capable of defining and flattering every aspect. For an underwater scene requiring a sunlight mimic, Broom used the 800 with a Frosted Fresnel lens and simple barn doors. “It worked perfectly for both the film and the stills,” she says. “K5600 lights have made this whole process easy and beautiful.”



PDN August 2016: The Fine-Art Photography Issue



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