Video Review: Thorsten Ott CHEAP Instructional Photography Video

When it comes to fundamentals, I, The Prince of Cheap, am always looking to sharpen my skills. This week I got a chance to check out an awesome photography video tutorial by Thorsten Ott. Read on to get the full skinny whether or not the video is for you or not …

Thorsten Ott
Thorsten Ott

Mr. Ott has been photographing for almost 30. Of him, his first college photography instructor said, “He taught him all he knew.” He entered Brooks Institute as an advanced placement student and left Brooks with a BA in Advertising Photography in 1989. His first lesson (like mine) was that lighting modifiers are not always from the camera store. Sound familiar? This dude is CHEAP! My and your kind of guy already huh! He spends his TIME building photography equipment – before spending his money on it! Hey, that is enough for me! You know already that I feel obligated to tell you about great cheap photography related stuff, so I just have got to tell you about this guy Thorsten Ott’s video – its a virus … GET IT!

Thorsten says, “Teaching and speaking with other photographers has always been a rewarding experience for me. Perhaps now I can pass along just a little bit of information and spark the imagination in all of us.”

Photo by: Thorsten Ott
Photo by: Thorsten Ott

Now, I have two things I can say about this: 1) I believe in this wholeheartedly – which is why I do what I do, and 2) this is our kind of guy here at! He’s another dude that doesn’t want to be stingy with knowledge! Ott’s credits include: images for Apple, Bosch, Electrolux, HomeDepot, Krups, Macy’s, Nike, Vendaria Media, and many-many others.

About the video

The video comes in at a lean cost of $90 that you can pay and download at his website. The download is a whopping 760 MB but don’t worry, with a standard DSL connection, barring any outside issues, you should get it in about 45 minutes to an hour! I’ve seen the video and after watching it, I see why he’s picking up good steam over at Paul C. Buff forums! His work is absolutely textbook perfect from capture to edit! Thorsten has taken the time to create a video that is deep and ultra informative.

The man knows just how to exhaust a topic! But don’t worry, you wont fall asleep! He totally rewards your patience with short video clips of him in the act of shooting … did I forget to mention that he uses no more than 2 light sources for his work in the video! All the images that were created have a commercial look and feel that a novice wouldn’t be able to complete without either a few years schooling or a few moments of watching his techniques in action. Bottom line, you will know how he did everything to get what he got.

Thorsten Ott
Thorsten Ott


The video itself is not only an 8.0 in visual quality but gets a 9.5 in content coverage! Ott’s video has something absolutely beautiful about it. I feel like I have a personal photography teacher that I can pop open on my computer whenever I want. He goes full bore into the detail of his style without so much of his own personal theory that he dry rots the video. He is very methodical in his explanation of the tools that he uses and even shows you in great clarity how exactly HE uses those tools. This actually makes you able to take in what he explains more effectively!

Here’s a more detailed outlook of what you can expect in his video:

  • 1 hour and 31 minutes
  • 720 x 404 16:9 widescreen
  • Stereo 44.100 Khz
  • 30 frames per second (fps)
  • 1120 kbits/sec
  • 760 MB download
  • Includes 18 lighting diagrams as large printable files for reference (actually suggest downloading and printing them for use)

No DVD Version of the video is available.

The video will play the best on your computer with VLC Media Player or Divx Player. Otts’ site suggests the free VLC Media Player from as it works great on any operating system platform. Divx Player is also free at

Photo by: Thorsten Ott
Photo by: Thorsten Ott

This first video examines fashion and glamor lighting using just 1 or 2 light sources. He examines each of the 12 lighting modifiers as well as how and when to use them. He discusses the 18 lighting diagrams and the 19 images created. Thorsten provides commentary on the lighting diagrams and features a behind-the-scenes video of the 4 models photographed. The video spans what Ott has learned over the last 20 years about shooting and modifying light of his studio flash units “to a give a 3-dimensional and cinematic light quality”.

In the video he covers the octabox, the beauty dish, v-flats, panels, diy stuff galore and TONS MORE!


Who is this video for? If you are an established pro, the video has some great inspirational images that will make you want to get back into your fashion roots. For the new guy out there with one or two lights, its my current pick! This video seriously caters to people like me who try to get by with as few lights as possible as often as possible. Otts examples shock you when you see how really simple they are from a technical standpoint. The man is a true Monster of Light when it comes to high impact with a low budget! Combine all this with the time he takes to tell you when and how each type of lighting modifier should or could be used, and you have a really knowledge-loaded video you should invest in.

So if you are new and already have a camera (and have read all the free stuff here on :) I really suggest that you get this tutorial so you’ll get on the fast track to a solid lighting education. Its a steal at $90. Mr. Ott has left us poor folk no more excuses – SO GET TA SHOOTIN!

P.S. I have gotta give an extra set of Kudos to Thorsten for this great video for not going Profoto or Hensel crazy! Nothing against those fine companies but they’re prices are simply too steep for the average user. I’m glad Ott chose to show us how to do all this with a basic set of Paul C. Buff White Lightinings. I guess he’s also showing us that you can get great light at a fair price!

Here’s a link to the 10 minute video preview:

Beware, this dude is dripping with so much knowledge, that even the very preview will teach you stuff!

Check out his site for an in-depth look:

Published by David Griffin

The Prince of Cheap I am a "Jesus Freak" and a DIY photography junkie! I'm also the *second* cheapest man alive... but only 'cause my Dad is the first!