Sparklers! Camera! Action!
Jun2013 20

Sparklers aren't just fun on 4th of July, there are plenty of occasions where these little sticks of light can come in quite handy and add that perfect, illuminated touch.  Take a wedding for example, a great excuse to bust out some sparklers to create some AMAZE-BALLS photos!  A photographer is basically someone that is obsessed with light, so if you are getting married soon and you really want to try out some creative lighting techniques in photos, your photographer will most likely be more than happy to oblige you on this request (and maybe even burst with their head).  We tried out a sparkler photo last weekend that we have been itching to try and lucky for us, our awesome couple Lauren and Derek, were more than happy to be our models :)  Check out this incredible shot we captured!:

Want to know how to do this?  Of course you do.  Things you will need:
Speedlite and/or a video light
A bride and a groom
An assistant or willing participant
A can-do attitude

The photo above was shot at ISO 125, F/14 and a 15 second exposure.  This was achieved by placing the camera on a tripod to minimize blurring and we shined a video light (off camera) onto Lauren and Derek so the camera was able to focus on the subject.  The video light also served somewhat as a substitute for a flash and "froze" our subject.  We were relying mainly on ambient light and the light produced by the sparklers to illuminate the photo.  Have your assistant run around the couple several times with sparklers in both hands and then wave their hands up and down to create the swirled effect around them.  Another way this could be captured is with a speedlite on or off camera.  The speedlite will fire at the beginning of the exposure "freezing" your subject so that they will be sharp and in focus.  A smaller aperture, like the one we used, will produce thinner more precise sparkler lines where as a bigger aperture will produce a thicker more "blown-out" sparkler effect.  This is all just a matter of preference and the overall look you are going for.

Below are two photos of the classic sparkler send-off shot of the bride and groom.  These photos are shot using two different methods; the one on top is shot using only available light and the one on the bottom is shot using a balance between available light and speedlite.  This is achieved by using the speedlite to freeze your subject and then shooting at a slightly longer exposure (approx 20 sec).

And if your couple is extra cool and they bring light sabers to their wedding, you can get some super fun dancing photos like this (*note* light sabers are not required to create this shot):

This is achieved by using a technique called "dragging the shutter".  You need a zoom lens and a speedlite to create this shot.  The speedlite again is serving the purpose of freezing your subject.  This was shot at ISO 400, F/3.5 and a 5 second exposure with an 18-200 lens.  Start with the lens fully zoomed out and as soon as you push the shutter button, zoom the lens in all the way very quickly.  This will give you the "dragged" or "pulled" light effect.  Fun huh?!  Now go out and give it a try and have a blast!


There's No Place Like a Studio to Call Home
May2013 22

Urban Light Studios has been described as "Candy Land for Photographers".  I happen to agree.  You can stroll along the paths, through the rooms and find endless backdrops, nooks and crannies to shoot with.  In addition to this incredibly vast and unique setting, all of our lighting and grip equipment is included in every rental.  For a limited time only (June, July & August 2013), we are offering a free trade up on our monthly affiliate program.  What does that mean you ask?  Well, it means that for the price of 10 monthly hours, you get 16 and for the price of 16 monthly hours, you get 24!  Read up about our monthly affiliate levels here.  For some inspiration on how various photographers have used this amazing space, check out our Shot at ULS gallery here.  Because let's be honest, who didn't at one point in their lives, want to call Candy Land home?


Huge news! Introducing AXIS PIONEER SQUARE
May2013 2

After MONTHS and MONTHS of work, we finally get to pull back the curtain for you on our new adventure, - this time in the heart of Pioneer Square. We are preserving the former Elliott Bay Book Co. and turning the 122-year-old, 6000-square-foot space into an axis point for history, art, culture, photography and events…  Introducing AXIS Pioneer Square.

Check back for construction updates here and at and be sure to join our email list and like us on Facebook for invitations to the grand opening in July!  

Sitting on 1st avenue between Main and Jackson, just imagine the ridiculous history…




Before it was built in 1891, the trees on it were cut and turned into lumber by Henry Yesler's Skid Road mill, the wood that built the new Seattle. Once cleared, it was the site of the city's first hospital, run by the legendary David "Doc" Maynard. It was also the place where our namesake Chief Seattle sat for his portrait. How much deeper can Seattle roots go?


Built as a commercial building after the great fire it has housed a saloon, a hotel (The Globe), a drug company, a gold mining company, a 1920s bootlegging operation (that once blew up) and a quilt factory. The terms "seamstress" used to be euphemism for Pioneer Square prostitute, but the quilting company really did employ people who sewed, and Jones says the upper floods are reinforced because of the heavy machines they used.


The architect, by the way, was a descendant of Daniel Boone. So the Globe (originally called the Marshall-Walker Building) is a survivor, as the Square's historic building have had to be, and an adaptable one.


Check back for construction updates and be sure to join our email list and like us on Facebook for invitations to the grand opening in July!


Photo Shoot Spotlight:
Mar2013 18

In late February we had the crew of DList Magazine back at ULS for a photo shoot geared towards finding their next cover girl.  There was a bevy of beauties in every room, gettin their hair and make-up did and multiple sets going on all at the same time.  What could appear as quite the frenzy, was a very impressively organized photo shoot.  Our hats off to DList for making our space look so damn good!  Here are a couple behind the scenes photos as well as a behind the scenes video courtesy of DList Magazine and the issue featuring the images captured that day.


Photo Shoot Spotlight:
Feb2013 27

If any of you have been to Horseshoe in Ballard, than you already know it is filled with to-die-for, must-have fashion!  Jill, the owner, likes to think of her store as an opportunity for a lady to express her rugged individualism while never denying her charming femininity.  We recently had the pleasure of having the lovely ladies of Horseshoe here at the studio for a photo shoot to capture their new Spring Nautical line.  They utilized the brick wall and red barn door in the downstairs studio to stay true to that rugged and feminine combo while using an old, rusted anchor and wooden paddles as props to create that nautical feel.  Check out what they captured that day here on their blogspot.  Horseshoe also has a great Lookbook site that you can drool over, check it out here.  Everything in the store is also available on the web store and there is always free shipping!


Photo Shoot Spotlight:
Feb2013 11

We recently had the pleasure of hosting Samantha Fosse for her photo shoot featuring her unique and beautiful bridal headpieces.  Sam's background is in apparel design.  She designed for well-known companies such as Nordstrom, Tommy Bahama and Eddie Bauer.  Sam's design approach begins with feathers, flowers, leaves or wings.  She then marries that foundation with relics of the past like brooches, beads, Victorian laces and vintage ribbons while deriving inspiration from the Marchesa Casati, Mother Nature, Nancy Cunard and the embellishment of Alexander McQueen.  She likes to think of it as "upcycling".  Head to the downtown Seattle CICADA to try on Sam's headpieces!  Here are some behind the scenes shots of the photo shoot...


Take a Virtual Tour!
Jan2013 4

There is a consistent piece of feedback that we get from people, it goes like this, "we love your website, there are so many great pictures, but it is really hard to tell how these awesome rooms are connected...".  So, we decided to do something about this and give you the experience of a virtual, 360 degree tour through our incredible and unique space!  Sit back, relax, maybe even drink some wine, and take a tour.  Enjoy :)


Welcoming the Welcome Wall (and chandelier)!
Nov2012 20

We are thrilled to unveil the latest additions to our space, the Welcome Wall AND our recently completed vintage-modern chandelier.  Both custom designed and built for ULS, together they create an even more striking impact as you first walk in and offer new ways to customize the space.

Constructed of salvaged barnwood, custom steelwork and mirrors, the wall also integrates a chalkboard for custom greetings.

And your event becomes a part of the Welcome Wall.  ULS will create a laser engraved board for each event to seamlessly integrate into the wall (and you get to keep it afterward!)

Be sure to tell your florist… Four custom steel budvases line the left side of the wall with infinity mirrors behind to multiply the flowers.

The waterfall shelf (perfect for guest books or favors) is one-of-a-kind specially fabricated for ULS out of blackened steel.

And we absolutely love the new chandelier, designed by the ULS team.  It has 30 vintage Edison light bulbs which add a cozy warm light to the space.

A big thank you to Jim Graham of Graham Baba Architects for the design assistance, Jimmy Saxson for the custom craftsmanship and Duffy from Electric Coffin for building the chandalier.


Behind the Scenes: D List fashion shoot
Aug2012 27

Check out this great behind the scenes video of the recent D List magazine fashion shoot at ULS.  We can't wait to see the final shots - the issue comes out Sept. 15, so be sure to check out the D List website.



Shot at ULS:
Jan2012 26

Last year's string of photo shoots ended on a high note when the Seattle cult band BRAD, including Seattle legend Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, came to ULS to be photographed by the amazing Daniel Zetterstrom.  Check out his work here. Below is a behind the scenes shot of the photo shoot by David Eader, check out his work here.

BRAD has released a total of 4 albums between 1993 and 2005.  Their 5th album is due to be released in early 2012, this should be very exciting news to those hard core followers out there since you have been waiting 7 years!
The band is comprised of Shawn Smith (vocalist), Keith Lowe (bassist), Regan Hagar (drummer) and last but certainly not least, Stone Gossard (guitarist).  These guys are seriously the nicest group of guys and incredibly cool.  As they moved through the rooms at ULS in front of Daniel's camera, they listened to the likes of Hendrix, Floyd and Zeppelin and expressed their love for these bands and chatted about music pretty much the whole time.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of their new album and support not only a local legend, but a solid, music-loving group of dudes:)


Shot at ULS: 'Now I Lay Me'
Sep2011 21

You've got to check out this awesome music video for Seattle hip hop group Juga Hill.  Directed by Angel Colmenares of Unaluz Films, they shot really creatively all over the studio - even we had to watch twice to figure out some of the settings.  Our fav is the confessional usage of the China Room doors.  Super pro crew and great artists to work with - well done all around.


Fleet Foxes at ULS
Mar2011 16

We had the pleasure of welcoming Seattle super band Fleet Foxes on Monday for a photo shoot for two upcoming issues of Q magazine (including a cover!), Britain’s largest music publication.

The shoot was masterfully conducted by renowned Danish photographer Soren Starbird with the assistance of ULS staff – he was truly a pleasure to work with.  Soren flew in from Copenhagen for the day and has photographed the likes of U2, Led Zepplin, Oasis and The Killers – check out his work at .

While we can’t give away spoilers (or share photos), we can say that ULS regulars will definitely recognize many settings in the photos.   Big thanks to the entire band for being so cool to work with, as well as their manager Aja and Darion from Q.  And be sure to pick up the new Fleet Foxes album coming out May 3.


Shoot Spotlight:  A Matter of The Heart
Mar2011 2

Did you know that Heart Disease is the number one killer of women? We recently had the pleasure of hosting a photo shoot for the American Heart Association’s  “Go Red For Women” campaign.  The models were a combination of survivors and awareness advocates.  To boot, the one and only Jean Enerson of King-5 News was featured in the shoot!   These lovely ladies were all gussied up in their finest RED to promote awareness for the campaign.  You can read more about your local Go Red For Women campaign here:


Shoot Spotlight: K-9 Models at ULS
Feb2011 3

Kelly Engel and Matthys Van Leeuwen of Dutch Dog Design joined us last week for a photo shoot featuring 7 well behaved pooches and the coolest dog beds you'll ever see.  Dutch Dog Design ( has put a modern twist on the dog bed and the models seemed to love them!  The doggies and their beds were photographed by Tyler Macleod of Mac Arts Design (  They utilized the main level of the studio and lots of our modern furniture to create their ideal setting to compliment their modern dog beds.  Big thanks to Kelly and Matthys for thinking of us, we enjoyed having you! [..]

SPPA Holiday Party - Dec 7
Dec2010 2

ULS is proud to host the Seattle Professional Photographers Association holiday party coming up on Dec 7.  Dozens of local photographers will be joining us for a shoot around in our different studios along with refreshments and industry networking.   For tickets and more information visit


Still vs. Video: Blurring the line
Oct2010 25

We've had the privilege of hosting video shoots for 4 of Seattle's most famous companies (we're under gag order) in recent weeks and their productions had one thing in common: no video camera.  

Video crews are increasingly choosing to use new generation DSLRs (still cameras) like the Canon 5D Mark II instead of traditional film/video cameras.   These mini high tech marvels offer gorgeous quality HD video and the ability to use all of the high quality lenses used for still photography, while being no larger than Uncle Wally's Olympus film SLR from back in the 70s.  

This offers the exciting potential of high powered HD in every photographer's bag with cameras that cost only a couple thousand, instead of 10s or 100s of thousands.  Major Hollywood movies are even using them as "disposable" cameras for stunt cars and explosions - the quality is that good.  And for event applications, this offers the ability to have one photographer shooting both stills and video with the same camera, sure to open lots of possibilities. [..]

ULS Welcomes David Tejada
Aug2010 26

We welcomed Colcorado based photographer David Tejada as our featured speaker for the first ULS Photographer Networking Evening last week.  There was a great turnout of Seattle photographers (and some from Canada) who had a chance to talk shop with colleagues, as well as learn from David.  His presentation focused on his extensive use of off camera speedlights for location photography.  David shared all sorts of tricks and techniques with the crowd, and then hosted a following day workshop where 10 photographers were able to work 1 on 1 with him.  We're pleased to have David as a friend of ULS and look forward to welcoming him back in the future.

We had a great response to our Photographer Networking Evening and will look to get another one scheduled soon, so stay tuned.  Feel free to email us if you would like to be included on our invite list. [..]

Photographer Networking Social with   David Tejada - Aug 18
Aug2010 3

We are pleased to welcome David Tejada as the featured speaker in the first in a series of Photographer Networking Socials at ULS, Aug 18 at 7p.  David is a highly regarded Denver based commercial photographer well known within the national photographic community for his "Small Strobes, Big Results" website and workshop series.  He will give a slide show presentation of his work and discuss his transition to using small strobes for all assignment work.  Stick around afterward for refreshments and a chance to network with other photographers and explore our studio.

This event is free, tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis.  Please email for tickets.   Some spaces may also be available in David's day workshop at our studio on Aug 19, see for details. [..]

50's Flashback
May2010 3

We enjoyed a great 50s flashback photo shoot here today, thanks to the creativity of Nicole Laye and Heather Lynn.  Nicole has created a line of amazing one of a kind airbrush painted kitchen mixers, reminiscent of finely detailed automotive art.   Working with photographer Heather, they perfectly utilized our retro-modern studio kitchen to create a surreally stunnning look - we all felt like we were walking around in "Leave it to Beaver" all day.  Check out Nicole's mixer artwork at and Heather's photography at [..]

Library Hours
Apr2010 5

Our newest theme room - "The Library"- has opened.  Designed as a modern take on Grandpa's study, it serves as a cool retro-modern space in the heart of our upstairs.  We carefully selected a variety of rad lounge furniture pieces that look great in The Library, but are also versatile for creating a custom lounge anywhere in the studio for photo shoots or events.   The crowning piece is a light-up globe - a replica of one from our studio owner's Great-Grandma's house.  Be sure to "check out" (ha, witty) The Library on your next visit to ULS.

Jan Klier : Contemporary Fashion
Mar2010 13

We've been pleased to get to know and enjoy the work of Jan Klier during several recent shoots at Urban Light Studios.  He specailizes in fashion work and has captured some great images in our studio.  Jan is meticulous about his lighting and his backgrounds, always varying the many different textures in our studio to create striking images. 

We look forward to working more with Jan on future shoots at ULS.  You can check out his blog at . [..]

Creative fashion shoot
Feb2010 1

Excited to see the images we just received from a really cool phoot shoot at our studio a couple weeks ago.  We had the pleasure of hosting Aniela Sidorska of Elan Digital in San Fran working with Seattle photographer Nicole Raine
( and their great team of models and hair/mu/stylists. 

They really utiilized the versatility of our studios, shooting in just about every inch of each studio and had some amazing wardrobe and hair/ mu looks that came out great.   It was a lot of fun having them shooting here, lots of creative positive energy everywhere.  Retouching is being handled by Elan Digital and we will post the final images in a couple months. [..]

Dispatches from the log cabin
Jan2010 21

Our fabulous log cabin green room is almost complete.  We started with the walls (from the set of Northern Exposure), and have been searching high and low for the perfect complmentary cabin decor.  A couple sets of antlers for the wall, a wooden mallard, and some great timber furniture to go with our yellow velvet loungers have done the job nicely.  The latest arrival, our overhead elkhorn chandalier, has taken its place as one of the finishing touches.  It's a cool environment for getting ready for photo shoots or weddings or as a nice little escape during evening events. [..]