Welcome Back, George Larson

George LarsonWhile attending  the WPPI convention last week I had the chance to talk with George Larson, the inventor of the softbox. I started using George’s reflectors in the late 197o’s after attending a week-long class on “Subtractive Lighting” with the late Leon Kennamer at PPA’s Winona School. In fact, I still have one of the translucent reflectors. When Mary and I opened our studio in the early 1980’s the first lighting gear we purchased was one of George’s kit that included an umbrella and a reflector.  George was—and still is—an innovator in the world of photographic lighting, which is why he’s often called “Mr. Light.”

For those not be familiar with George and his work, in 1963 he put his own unique stamp and patent on photographic reflectors and brought them to market in ’64. People toss around the word soft box like it was a generic term, but George Larson was the guy who invented the Soft Box and his product designs shaped the way lighting products have been designed ever since and over time he developed 57 major photographic lighting products. In 2009 he was awarded the American Society of Photographer’s International Award, whose past recipients have included major corporations and educational institutions.

Rectangular Soft Box RFEGeorge retired in 1999 but in the past several years received many requests and phone calls asking him to return to the photographic industry. He decided to un-retire and started a new photographic lighting company, called Legacy Photo Lighting by George Larson. I had a chance to take a hard look at some of these new products at the WPPI trade show and saw that the Legacy lighting products are extremely well put together and are made right here in the good ole USA. George designed all of the extrusion dies for these products, built the prototypes and oversaw all phases of manufacturing including marketing.

I’ll be testing some of the Legacy lightbanks for Shutterbug magazine in the near future and may show a few in-progress shots here as well on my Picture-a-Day website as I shoot images and work on the review.

Author: Joe Farace

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