“I always call him ‘the genius of light.’ He puts all of the lighting scenes together. He thinks differently than everyone else I know. He just responds to light. It’s remarkable.”
—Gregory Crewdson on Rick Sands

In a five-day workshop at Aperture Foundation, twelve participants worked with and learned from director of photography Rick Sands, whose masterful lighting illuminates scenes and narratives in photography, film, and television. “I don’t see natural light,” Sands quipped as he spoke to students, explaining that when he scouts locations he envisions them as dark; the only light he sees is the light that he adds to a scene.

Sands’s early background in theater and stage lighting taught him to look at scenes and settings holistically in order to create elaborately conceptualized lighting scenarios. On the first day of the workshop, Sands explained his take on the five properties of light—quantity, quality, color, direction, and shape—guiding workshop participants in the hands-on learning that they took part in throughout the session. With the help of Sands, students worked in groups to re-create the lighting found in images they had selected from fashion magazines, film stills, and fine-art photographers such as Cindy Sherman and Alessandra Sanguinetti. The images were eclectic, giving students the opportunity to re-create a diverse array of lighting scenarios. The workshop also consisted of informal lectures and slide viewings, lighting demonstrations, and question-and-answer periods. By the end of the workshop, students were not only confident in emulating the lighting found in the images of other photographers, but also in creating lighting to match their own personal photographic visions.

Students say…

“Rick is incredibly knowledgeable about lighting gear and I feel very confident working with lights after the workshop.”

“Rick is the ultimate king of lighting, period. It was so generous of him to have shared his invaluable experience and knowledge with all of us, with tremendous patience and great efforts. It was a life-changing workshop!”

“He’s a very good teacher. He gave everyone enough flexibility to explore how they might do something, he wasn’t dogmatic about an approach, but he also knew when to help us get back on track.”

Richard Sands is a director of photography whose roots are in cinema production. He has accomplished the lighting on 35 theatrical motion pictures with directors such as Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Sam Raimi; 47 television movies; over 100 one-hour television episodes; and numerous advertisements. He was responsible for many award-winning projects, including three commercials he shot that have won ADDY Awards. For nearly twelve years, Sands has created the elaborate lighting for the fine-art narrative photographs of artist Gregory Crewdson. Through this unique collaboration, Sands’s lighting has been featured in four books and several international photographic exhibition tours.


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