Tony Corbell Workshop

Tony Corbell (Corbell Productions) is truly a genius. He’s photographed Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail the historic 2000 millennium gathering of 125 world leaders at the UN (which became legendary because of an impostor that snuck himself into the photo). Tony also has commercial clients like Crate & Barrel and Disney. 

This weekend I got to spend a whole day learning from Tony. You can imagine my rapt attention to his every word since he’s figured out how to blend travel, politics, art, and commercial into his photography business. I want to be like Tony when I grow up. 

Here’s Tony teaching:

Here are a few of his pearls, starting with my favorite:

  • “You can’t buff a turd.”  Get perfect photos on-location; reject the “I’ll fix it later” attitude.
  • If you want to do something new and different you have to be content looking stupid.
  • Eyes see twice as much contrast (dynamic range) as a camera. A camera captures twice as much contrast as photo paper. So, while your eyes have about a 20-stop dynamic range, photo paper will hold roughly 4-stops worth of detail, like this:
  • Master highlight control: 
    • As light source size increases, highlight size increases but highlight brightness decreases.
    • As the light source distance from the subject increases, the size of the highlight decreases, but highlight brightness increases. 

While Tony set up a makeshift studio and went over lighting techniques, I snagged these images of the model with my D700/70-200mm from my position crouched on the floor using my knees as a tripod. 🙂


I am starting to get over my fear of studio lighting! Knowledge breeds confidence. What is your essential lighting gear? What do you think of studio light versus natural light?  

– HBA

P.S. Thanks, Tony. I am happy to add you to my growing list of mentors. 

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About Holly Baumann Photography

I am Holly Baumann Ambuehl, a commercial and portrait photographer based in Central Illinois. My blog posts feature client work, but I just love to write, so I also write about owning a business, food and drink, travel, and my personal life! I am always honored when clients trust me to capture their vision, and equally so when my readers converse with me about what I've photographed or expressed here. I hope we'll have an opportunity to collaborate professionally and/or become friends. I'd love to hear what you think! - Holly
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