David Guy Maynard on Packing Light

“I use a lot of big gear in the studio,” says David Guy Maynard. “There’s no question about that. Big monoblocks, the works. But when you go out on location, you generally don’t have a power supply.” This is evident in the video promo (above) from his upcoming DVD. Entitled Location Lighting with Speedlites: Smaller Gear, Bigger Results, Maynard is all about great results from less gear.

©David Guy Maynard

“We were out on an island shooting for the DVD. There’s no electricity available there. So then you’re looking at big power packs with huge battery backup systems. I generally have an assistant or two with me, but it’s a lot of gear. I often work on location, and it’s difficult and expensive to take multiple cases. Over the last several years I’ve been trying to minimize what I take, still get the results I want, but have a lot less to carry, set-up and maintain. There are techniques you can use to get the same results to make it look like you shot it in a $50,000 studio, but you do it with a decent size bag and a little imagination.”

©David Guy Maynard

Maynard’s DVD, due in early 2010, runs for one hour, and promises to explore his evolving philosophy of shooting with lighter gear, planning an entire shoot, running from one to three light setups, the choosing and use of modifiers and other gear, off-camera lighting techniques and dealing with difficult sunlight conditions.

©David Guy Maynard

“Most photographers I meet are, by nature, techno junkies and gadget freaks,” says Maynard. “It’s just who we are. When I started in photography as a kid with no money, I got used to using whatever was at my disposal, like my dad’s shoplight and the reflectors from car windows to protect your dashboard. When I went pro, I got spoiled by all the great, large gear. For the past five years I’ve done more and more location work. I travel a lot. Working with less gear is a matter of convenience and necessity. I simply can’t afford to stress my back lugging heavy gear around. Because of this, I constantly try new tricks and pieces of equipment to make my location rig smaller. A lot of stuff gets tossed aside because it doesn’t hold up. In the last three years I’ve really honed what’s in my travel photo bag. It’s now a small fraction of what I used to carry, and I’m actually getting better photos than I used to.”

©David Guy Maynard

Among the smaller gear Maynard is packing these days include the Canon Speedlight 580EX. “It works perfectly with the PocketWizard’s HyperSync technology. A speedlight is a speedlight. It’s how you control them that makes the biggest difference. I carry five speedlights now of different makes and models. It’s rare to see me shooting with just one light.” He also carries the LumiQuest Snoot and assorted lightweight stands, among other goodies in his bag.

Maynard relies on PocketWizard technology to fire all his location lights. A MiniTT1 and three FlexTT5 units enable him to fire up to four lights at a time. “I like to use a lot of odd-ball lighting setups. The TT1 and the TT5 are reliable,” he reports. “They’ll go off every time, and they’ll go off in whatever way I want them to. I like that. I still have Plus IIs and I use those for certain things, but they’re getting less attention now that I’m using the Mini and Flex set-up. They work with the Plus IIs, so if I want to throw a Plus II in for a background light, I can dial that in for less light on Manual setting. This means I can be out in a park and running five lights with no electricity. I can do hair lighting, backlighting, effects lighting under furniture, around walls, or whatever. Any lighting situation that would’ve taken you two hours to set up in the studio, you can do on location with a five minute set-up time. Things have changed, and for the better. I would’ve never dreamt of doing anything remotely close to this ten years ago.”

©David Guy Maynard

Thanks to Maynard’s advocacy of smaller and better gear, the word is spreading. “I’m happy to say I’m part of pushing that trend. I recommend this gear to someone, or I say, ‘here’s how you can get that big studio shot,’ and that makes them happy. They realize it’s a shot they might not have gotten otherwise out on location. It’s becoming more popular. I’ve seen guys who always used to go out with all the big gear, and now they’re using less and lighter equipment, and they’re getting the shots they want.” Although still a self-professed fan of big studio gear, “I love having that flexibility, but the ability on location has changed.”

©David Guy Maynard

Never afraid to experiment, Maynard mixes the two worlds now and then. “Sometimes in the studio I’ll run big lights as primary, and I’ll pull out one or two speedlights and throw them in the background as a hair light. I’ll mix the studio lights and speedlights with no problem.”

©David Guy Maynard

Inspired by his older brother, Maynard has been shooting since he was eleven. He’s shot as a serious hobbiest and twelve years ago started taking paying assignments. Six years ago he went pro full-time. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Shutterbug, Popular Photography, Digital Photo Pro, PDN, Business Traveler, and many more.

©David Guy Maynard

2010 promises to be a big year for Maynard. Along with the DVD’s release, a secret project is in the works. He has been collaborating with a manufacturer to create some innovative new lighting products, of which he will say nothing except that he’s been shooting with the prototypes. “The shots I’ve been getting are unreal,” he reports. We can look forward to seeing Maynard get more with less for some time to come.

David Maynard Photography

Mini/Flex Bikini Beach Shoot, DVD Preview

MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 Introduction Video

13 Responses

  1. Okay, i have been a loyal pocketwizard user for years, and i have a serious question. when did you become a T&A company? a couple years back, there was so much more class associated with your company.
    sure the technical aspect of the feature images *seem* to be correct, but the content???? if i wanted to see these kinds of images unsolicited, i would go out and buy a Maxim magazine.
    put it to yourself, are we talking photography here, or chicks in bikinis?
    have you even looked at this guys website gallery? he has no class, little imagination, and poor taste in his super soft core porn subject matter.

    personally – you have lost my vote pocketwizard. my other photo school girlfriends and i get together every other week to shoot together, and we all agreed one of us should say something. yeah, we are the little guys, or really girls, but we wanted you to hear that we are beyond disappointed, and wont be kept silent.

    from ~ disgruntled young Manhattanite women

  2. Thank you for your comment. David Guy Maynard was a featured photographer in our video-experience in PocketWizard launch at WPPI. He has since had great success with the new PocketWizard units and in the blogged video, he produced one of the better visual explanations of the HyperSync feature of these products. We interviewed David to expand the educational value of the post and give viewers a insight into David’s background and techniques. The photography included is a representation of David’s work which does focus on the female form and beach photography. He is quite successful in this endeavor and has a growing client base. All of this said, if you review this year’s blog posts on PocketWizard.com, you find that we are dedicated to presenting ALL kinds of photography involving remote triggering. We support passionate photographers without judgment.

  3. First to the “disgruntled Manhattanite woman”. I find your comment to be a borderline insult to the intelligence of the reader, and certainly an insult to this talented photographer and the well-known and respected professional models that he works with. As a woman, it is also an insult to me. To suggest that these classy and well-presented images of beautiful professional women somehow equates to “soft core porn” is in itself degrading to my gender. You are welcome to your own likes and dislikes, but hurling silly insults at anyone who doesn’t cater to them seems petty and juvenile to me.

    Thank you PocketWizard for presenting interesting and educational content such as this and the other wonderful posts I have been viewing. There are those of us who do appreciate the value of your efforts to share information with us in the photographic fields. And on that note, the article mentions that the Flex and Mini work with the Plus ll’s, but I have the Multi Max’s. Will I be able to use the new models with these?

  4. Hi Susan,

    I’m Zack from PocketWizard. The Mini and Flex can trigger any receiving PocketWizard, including MultiMAXes. HyperSync will work with them as well.

  5. just watched the video…you have got to be kidding me…two flash pointed in directly at the model..i laughed when he told one to point the flash at her torso and the other guy to point it at her hair…yah right….the spread from the flash will cover all of her…as you can see by the flat lighting on the model in the photo results…
    i do like how the video shows the ease of using your pocket wizards….

  6. Zack, will Mini & Flex work with older MultiMaxes also (those without USB-connector and with firmware v3.27)?
    I understand they will trigger them.
    But with HyperSync?

  7. Bo,

    Yes. The MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 can trigger any receiving PocketWizard, including older MultiMAXes. HyperSync is a function of the transmitting radio only, so it also works with any PocketWizard as a receiver.

    -Zack at PocketWizard

  8. David, I love your photos, and the dramatical look. With a strobist and this manual ettings 1/250 and f 8.0 do you think I could get a good dramatical look? I want to get a dark background.

  9. Sebastian, Thank you for your kind words.

    To your question, it depends on how bright the background is. You can increase your shutter speed if the background is too bright, or decrease it if too dark in order to get the look you want. But that is one of the many cool things about using the PW Flex and Mini, shooting in Hypersync mode you can sync at blazing fast shutter speeds to control even the most harsh sunny/bright backgrounds.

    Also keep in mind that your light placement plays a big part in creating a dramatic look. You can experiment with different lighting placement, modifiers, etc. to find the look you want. Perhaps you can try some of the lighting scenarios we show in the DVD to get started. But experiment with them and adapt them to your taste. In the end, the “right way” of doing it, is the method that gets you the shot you envision.

  10. David,
    It is fascinating to watch you shoot. Do you ever use your Canon flashes off camera without Pocket Wizards?

  11. Ali,
    Thanks.

    “Do you ever use your Canon flashes off camera without Pocket Wizards?”

    Not for years. Before the Mini and Flex came out I was using the Plus ll series with them. But the Mini and Flex are my favorites for speedlites now. I have really grown to count on them.

  12. i have had some pocket wizard plus II’s for some time now and recently been able to test out the flex and mini.
    i had some issues trying them though. it seems it is quite a common issue since the release. things like covers or certain types of the speedlite work best apparently.
    i tried shooting with 1d II, 5d II and 30D with combination of the flex, mini and plus IIs.
    first try was with flex and mini with 580EX. we got it to fire to 1/8000th on 1d II so i raced back home to get the rest of my gear.
    the other tries were a mixture of the 580EX and II. all tests are inside within 1 metre of use. testing different ranges of shutter on all cameras, with flex and mini, flex and plus II, mini and plus II. also after we tried using the flex and mini with different 580( I and II) but using a sync cord to the bottom of the flash from the flex jack. the results were all unreliable and not related at all and worse when using a sync cord. on the tests sometimes after repeating it would not go further than 1/400th then next time max out at 1/160th. repeating again results varied on different cameras.

    im used to black banding from the plus II’s with increasing the shutter above the x-sync working and around it but this time the banding was from the top of the frame on the flex and mini. i guess this was from the hypersync technology or similar but getting a taste of the flash going off at <1/8000th on the 30D makes me want more.

    mind you the version i tested was american and may need updating firmware (although recently brought) and calibrating from RF reading on other websites?

    how have you gone about this with ease or has that been cut out after editing the clip ha?

    it would be interesting to be able to do shoots with ease on the flex and mini not having to worry about the type of speedlite (430'sI & II,550's 580's I & II)and covers etc. as you say id like Smaller Gear, Bigger Results but as some sites say you need covers.. more gear. seems easier on the plus II's. advice?
    also using the US version of mini and flex cant get them to learn/fire some plus II's from a different country( that im unsure where from)

    cheers stefan haworth

  13. Hi Stefan,
    Sounds like you’re using FCC versions in New Zealand. Your government may be unhappy with you for using the 344-354Mhz frequencies. The CE versions which are cleared for New Zealand operate on 433Mhz. This is the reason local PocketWizards can’t converse with the Mini and Flex.
    There are many things to discuss: Firmware upgrade (you should have v5.0), Working in the latest Utility Software (V1.35. This is where you set HyperSync); when using radio devices, having transmitters and receivers close to each other is not always the best course of action. The included instructions encourage more than a meter and up to 2 in separation. I recommend directing your questions to the PW help desk at info@pocketwizard.com This gets you right to the guys who know this stuff.

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