"We created an entire backyard summer party scene for a two-day shoot," he says. "Making 'daylight' that looked convincing while at the same time making the food and models look good was a challenge. To add to the fun, the first day of the shoot happened to be the same day we got a blizzard in New York and we got about 20 inches of snow. How ironic is it that we were shooting summer pictures in the middle of a blizzard? For different shots, I adjusted the light to vary between bright midday sun and evening dusk-type light to go with the desserts. I have this kind of shoot lots of times, and I feel every time my lighting gets better and better."
Believability is most often accomplished in-camera for Giralt, which is surely part of the reason he's so diligent about lighting. The surprise here is that prior to thriving as a photographer, Giralt was a talented digital artist.
"The funny thing about my path," he says, "is even though I worked so much as a digital tech and retoucher, I do very little retouching to my own images. I felt like it made me a better photographer because I would rather do it in-camera than have to retouch it later. I always got angry with the photographers I worked for when they would have me retouch the image rather than fix it in-camera. I pride myself in shooting things right in-camera and not needing to do much retouching. I have even been hired for some jobs specifically because of this."
"Being a commercial photographer is all about making decisions and being in control of your process."
—Steve Giralt, from his blog
Giralt is able to accomplish so much in-camera and with his lighting specifically because he has been so well trained. As a high-school student, an RIT photo student and a young assistant in New York, all along the way Giralt benefited from the generosity and expertise of more experienced photographers. Not only did it make him a better photographer, but it shaped the way he thinks about giving back to the young photographers he meets today.
"I have received tons of emails from students over the years," he says, "asking me questions about how to get started in photography, and I felt it was my duty to help those students if I could. When I first moved to New York and started assisting photographers, I got lots of feedback and support from most of the photographers I worked with, and I felt that helped me become the photographer I am today. This is what inspired me to start writing about photography. I strongly believe that it helps the entire industry when young photographers are better educated on what they should and shouldn't do. At the very least, I feel that they should be aware that the decisions they make early in their career can have a long-lasting impact."
Giralt made his own mistakes as an up-and-comer. Not staying in touch with early clients was a big one.