Product Review: 25 Kick Ass Lighting Scenarios DVD

April 15, 2011

By Dan Havlik

Wedding photographer Jason Groupp has deliberately chosen unflattering locations to demonstrate his lighting set-ups in this DVD in an attempt to prove you can do more with less.

First off, in the interest of full disclosure, let me say that the creator of the DVD “25 Kick Ass Lighting Scenarios” is a friend of mine. So anyone reading this right now who might be saying to themselves “Hey, how can this review be unbiased?” has a fair point and they’re invited to immediately turn the page. But before you do that, let me say that I’m pretty sure that even if I didn’t know the man behind this DVD—wedding photographer and occasional PDN product co-tester Jason Groupp—I would still highly recommend it.

Why? It’s chock full of extremely useful lighting tips presented in an entertaining and accessible way. And I’m not just saying that. Small strobe lighting books, DVDs, and videos are all the rage right now and I’ve read or seen many of them. While there are a lot of good ones out there, I like Jason’s casual, on-the-fly approach in “25” because it’s simple, straightforward and you get the impression you’re watching the creative process at work.

Though I haven’t asked him whether his spiels in each of the 25 lighting scenarios in the DVD are scripted or not, they don’t feel that way. And while this loosey-goosey approach should be less intimidating to off-camera neophytes, clearly a lot of thought has gone into presenting fast, client-pleasing, lighting set-ups that you can actually use out in the field.

Almost all the lighting setups shown are done bare bones, with just a couple of flashes and a camera, which is actually pretty hilarious, considering how much elaborate, pricey gear Jason and I have tested for PDN over the years.

To prove that you can do these lighting set-ups anywhere, Jason chooses some of the most unflattering locations I have ever seen in a photography video—a bright parking lot in New Jersey; a cheap, potentially dangerous hotel—but still pulls it off during a live shoot. Each lighting scenario is named after a New York City street, neighborhood or landmark—the Statue of Liberty, Central Park West, Ave A—to make them easy to remember. After completing the shoot, he then walks you through the results in Adobe Bridge, showing you how he got the image from something awful to something eye-catching with just a couple of moves.


Even if I didn’t know the guy who created this DVD, I’d still highly recommend it to anyone looking for fast lighting set-ups they can use right away to make their clients look great. Kick Ass, indeed.

25 Kick Ass Lighting Scenarios
Pros: Fun, loose approach shows the creative process at work while you learn useful lighting techniques.
Cons: A little pricier than other lighting DVDs out there.
Price: $150