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ARRI Orbiter shines the light on still photography

Photographer Thomas Kierok chooses ARRI Orbiter and SkyPanels to illuminate his timely project “Corona Art Kids” which highlights the impact of the corona pandemic on children.

The coronavirus disease COVID-19 and the worldwide pandemic that has ensued worldwide because of it, have been ever-present topics for most of 2020. Our lives and the lives of our children have been greatly affected. Many people are wondering how the younger members of our society are coping with this very unique moment in history. What are their feelings, experiences, and insights surrounding the coronavirus?
 

For one of his most recent projects, professional portrait and business photographer Thomas Kierok sought to answer some of these questions in turning his lens to children. “Corona Art Kids” is a still photography project that highlights the recent experiences of kids and teenagers, ages 4 to 17. Due to the rapid spread of the virus, face masks have become a part of everyday life, even for children. Kierok asked his protagonists to design their own “face masks” with text and images (sometimes they even ended up painting their faces in the process). In doing so, Kierok was able to capture an intimate collection of feelings, words, pictures, and colors all revealing these children’s current struggles. These images are very personal reflections of the human experience during this trying time.

Creative, simple to use, colorful, and bright: that is lighting with ARRI Orbiter.

Thomas Kierok, photographer


With the help of ARRI Lighting in his Prenzlauer Berg studio in Berlin, Thomas Kierok was able to capture this very unique and powerful collection of images. ARRI’s latest LED fixture Orbiter was created to professionally execute a wide variety of tasks for a wide variety of applications. For still photography, Orbiter is able to fill the need for continuous lighting while providing a range of desired outputs, from hard shadows to soft light. Orbiter also offers countless color possibilities and is easy to adjust quickly. ARRI sat down with photographer Thomas Kierok to ask him about his experiences working with Orbiter and about this special project.

Could you please explain your idea behind the project?

The idea came to me when the corona COVID-19 pandemic started. Inspired by my own children, I asked myself about their feelings and experiences during this unusual time. With this project I also wanted to give the children a voice. At the same time I was curious about their creativity and uniqueness and possible similarities between the children and the age groups.

Tell us about the environment and the general lighting requirements?

The shooting took place in my darkened studio in Berlin. I was able to use the Orbiter as my main light source. I was photographing directly behind the Orbiter, which was almost on the floor. The light was coming directly from center and a bit below the faces of the kids. As backlights, I used two ARRI SkyPanels and their neutral white light. At the sides, I had two colored Fresnel spots.
 

Did the work with kids present special challenges in terms of lighting?

Yes, sometimes younger kids have shorter attention spans, so the shooting had to be faster. Most of them were also a little shy at the beginning. However, in terms of lighting, I illuminated the children the same way I am accustomed to with adults.

Which features of the Orbiter were important to you during the shoot and why?

I like the reflection the Orbiter created in the eyes of the kids. The Orbiter gives out a light that is soft and direct at the same time and, let me tell you, it can get so bright! The versatility of this lighting fixture is immense; the different color modes make it easy to change colors; hues that are clear and perfect.

What surprised you?

I was really surprised by the color light and brightness and just how simple it was to achieve. When using a flash as a photographer, it takes a lot of work to create colored light with different colored foils. With the Orbiter, it only took one button and one turn. I was also impressed by the intensity of the colors.
 

Did you learn anything new?

I certainly learned that it is easy and fun to work with the Orbiter. By simply changing the colors, I could try many different variations of the same shot. The colors provided different atmospheres. It is a huge advantage to work fast and still be able to allow for some creativity with the kids on set. Everything worked so seamlessly that I could even allow the kids to choose their own colors.

What’s the main advantage of the Orbiter for the photo market from your point of view?

The combination of continuous light with easy color changes and the special reflection. I am able to gauge the results when using the Orbiter as opposed to using flash photography and, with the Orbiter, the fine tuning is just much easier.

Was there anything you couldn’t have done without the Orbiter?

This special combination of light and color really stood out and helped to make this project enjoyable and effective.
 

What’s the next step for the project? Are you planning to exhibit the work?

We are currently looking for a location to present the project.

Finally, how important is lighting in your work?

Photography in Greek means painting with light. For me, the light is the soul of photography.


Thomas Kierok is based out of Berlin. He photographs for magazines, advertising agencies, and other businesses and gives lectures on photography. His work has also been the subject of several books. For more information, please visit his website: https://www.kierok.de
 

Watch the making of video for the “Corona Art Kids” project


All images: © Thomas Kierok