2013 Scholarship participants, working during a weekly crit.

2013 Scholarship participants, working during a weekly crit.




Following the success of our inaugural 2013 Scholarship, we are proud to announce the 2014 Kingsize Studios Scholarship Class. Commencing Tuesday 8th April, this twelve week program is held Tuesday evenings at Kingsize Studios in Grey Lynn, Auckland.

The Kingsize Scholarship programme is completely free. Photographers are selected on the potential of their portfolios.

The aim is to give 10 – 12 emerging photographers a solid platform to build, learn and self-manage the development of their ongoing practice. The focus is to simultaneously develop technical expertise, your visual language and business knowledge: the art, science, and commerce to help empower you to earn.

The program includes group critique with focused discussion regularly accompanied by industry experts and guest speakers. Each week students are given a specific brief or assignment with the aim of developing skills and building portfolios. Students will have free access to studio space and equipment, and the full support of the Kingsize Studios team and infrastructure.

Scholarship students are also offered free places on other paid Kingsize technical workshops such as the Assistant Bootcamp, Film-making for Photographers, Intro to Fashion Photography and a range of studio lighting workshops.

Applicants can be from any background and any age. The perfect group will contain image-makers with a variety of experiences and interests who are interested in learning from one another. Please consider if geography or other work/study commitments will affect your ability to commit to the Scholarship.

Additional criteria, include the need for applicants to be at a stage where their careers are developing: these maybe recent graduates, emerging photographers, and anyone who is embarking on their new career in photography.


  1. Email a PDF portfolio with cover letter to
  2. Save the PDF with your name in the file. Please keep your cover letter brief:
    -we want to know about you and your interests.
    -what are your career strengths and weaknesses
    -what is your 10 year plan?
    -do you love fashion, fine art, portraiture, film-making, or …..?
    -why do you think this scholarship will benefit you?
  3. No more than 20 images
  4. PDF to be sized no larger than 6MB
  5. Must be received by 10am Monday 31st March 2014


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Personal Development Shoots



Purchase a PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT VOUCHER and use it to book

+ ANY studio

+ ANY equipment

+ ANY day

from Jan 6th – 31st for a personal shoot.

Half Day – 08:00-13:00 – 5hrs // Full Day – 13:00 – 18:00 – 10hrs

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT vouchers can be used for any test, portfolio, fine art or personal development shoots. Strictly not for commercial shoots.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT vouchers must be purchased in advance, a studio can then be booked via email or phone. Equipment can be requested in advance but can only be confirmed on the day of the shoot.


But wait- there’s more! The creator best single image (as judged by a panel of people with impeccable taste) shot as part of a PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT shoot will win back the $400 or $200 fee in Kingsize dollars.


Subject to availability

Terms + conditions apply

Summer Rentals – 15 Free Days

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 3.22.00 PM

The Summer break is a great time to try out specialist items such as tilt-shift lensesring flashesvideo tripods. You could also take a simple lighting kit and master the one light portrait.

We expect popular items such as lenses and video equipment will be the first items to get booked out so you’ll need to get in quickly with bookings.

Collect any time on Friday Dec 20th and return by 12 noon on Monday 6th Jan.

We can also arrange to have items couriered anywhere in the country, just be sure to include all relevant details when you email to book. // 09 378 1027




Natural Light


If you’ve never used flash lighting, it can seem a little intimidating but, once you know the basics it is really quite logical. The wonderful thing about photography today is that you can immediately see the results of any lighting alterations you make.

A phrase often heard from natural light photographers is: “I don’t like the look of flash lighting.”

The key concept to understand when approaching studio lighting is that artificial light looks strange to the human eye. Our eyes have grown accustomed to the light from the sun, which they have experienced for millennia. This is a reason why photographs taken with on-camera flash usually look so terrible — the rabbit-in-the-headlights look. It’s very unusual to view a scene with the light source being two inches above the eyes of the viewer (unless you spend a lot of time wearing a head torch!).

Almost all studio lighting you see in commercial and editorial photography (not to mention virtually every movie you have ever seen) is trying to replicate natural light. That could be the hard, directional light of a sunny day; the diffused, soft light of an overcast day; or the warm, soft light of dusk.

If we are simply recreating light from the natural world, you might ask, Why bother with artificial light at all? The reason studio lighting is superior to daylight for making photographs is that artificial light is malleable, repeatable, precise, accurate and predictable.

Here we will demonstrate how to create three very different images using just one light to replicate different real-world lighting situations.


Winter sunlight

The sun is a very small and extremely powerful light source and it is directional, meaning it casts hard, crisp shadows.



Here we replace the sun with a flash head placed high up and relatively far from the subject with the light shaped by a snoot. This classic modifier restricts light fall-off but does not affect the power of the bare flash tube.

Note the hard shadows, the ‘hotspots’ and the vibrant, punchy colours.


Overcast day

On an overcast day the light of the sun is diffused through a thick layer of cloud. The light is refracted innumerable times as it passes through the cloud, creating an omnidirectional light. By the time it hits the subject, the location of the light source is not obvious and shadows are eliminated almost entirely.



This flattering, even light is the purpose of a softbox. The light from the flash head travels through the internal baffle (sheet of fabric), then the front diffusion screen of the softbox.

Here we replicate the look of a cloudy day using a medium softbox. I added a third layer of diffusion with a one-stop diffusion fabric on a frame. Having the diffusion screen as close as possible to the subject creates a very large light source resulting in this soft, even light.

Note the shadowless, even light with balanced colour tones.


Dusk light

The so-called ‘golden hours’ of dawn and dusk light have historically been very appealing. The Sun is low in the sky and less harsh, causing softer shadows and a gentle graduation between light and shadow. This type of light results in especially pleasing portraits and is often referred to as ‘Rembrandt lighting’.




In our set-up, a flash head with a shoot-through umbrella stands in for the sun. It is located nearer the ‘horizon’ and the hardness is taken out of the flash by the umbrella. This type of light is typically ‘warm’. For easier comparison, these photographs have not been processed but I would usually adjust the white balance in post to make the image warmer.

Note the directional, graduated light with soft, unobtrusive shadows. Also the rich colour tones and representation of different textures.

While we have been discussing flash lighting, of course the principles can be used with constant lighting or even daylight (if you carefully choose the time of day and are lucky with weather) — you can learn a lot from nature.

Studio Manager Luke White originally wrote this article for his regular ‘In The Studio’ feature for D-Photo Magazine.

I’m a Photographer- Why should I care about video?


Photography is the second most popular hobby in the World. After fishing.

That’s why the prefix ‘professional’ is often required before the word ‘photographer’. If your job is doing something that millions of other people choose to do for fun then the prefix is necessary (see ‘professional skateboarder and ‘professional chocolate taster’). Yes- you got into photography for the love of creating images, but the reason you can keep doing is is because you get paid. A point which many non-creatives miss is that being a freelance photographer is a job, just like being a civil engineer or a barber. Most of the work a photographer finds themselves doing doesn’t have them doing backflips with excitement, but they are what pay the bills and they sure beat working for the IRD or as a checkout operator. In this column we’re going to discuss what is probably the easiest way to start making more money immediately- shooting video.

Many photographers have taken up video as a new method of creative expression. Many more are adding ‘videographer’ or ‘DoP’ to their LinkedIn profiles in order to maximise profits from the clients they already have. This is no minor point- freelance photographers expend a lot of valuable time, effort and money on wooing new clients. The ability to offer a new service to existing clients is extremely efficient.

If you’ve had a look at the internet recently, you will have noticed that it is full of videos. The majority of these are not short films requiring large crews, lots of camera movements, a truck full of equipment and an expert editing team. They are ‘talking head’ interviews, catwalk videos, virtual tours etc. Basically moving photographs. Have a think about your clients and the content they may require. Whether they are in the business of selling houses or dresses, it’s likely they are already thinking about introducing video content.

If you’re an established photographer, you can easily book assistants who are experienced DSLR video camera operators who will take care of the technical aspects of your shoot. If you’re just starting out as a stills assistant, discuss the idea of shooting cool behind-the-scenes short videos with the photographers you are working with. They will make you look great, the photographer look great and the brand look great. Take a look at the behind the scenes videos on the Max Fashions website for examples.

There is a huge demand for video interviews against a clean, white background. These look great and, for a professional photographer with experience dealing with cameras, lighting and people they are a piece of cake to shoot and edit. If you have a studio lighting kit, you can simply use them as constant lights with the modelling bulbs to light your video. This means you have all of the light shaping tools such as beauty dishes, softboxes, reflectors etc at your disposal.

You will already have the camera, lenses and tripod needed to shoot an interview, the only thing missing is a microphone. Yes, your camera has built-in mics but they are awful. You’ll need to get hold of an external mic and fortunately, there are lots of simple and affordable options available to buy or hire such as the almost ubiquitous Zoom H4N Recorder or the Rode Shotgun mics. And that’s it. Spend two minutes watching the video tutorial we made on DSLR video settings and you’ll be set. With almost zero expenditure on equipment or time you can be offering (and billing) your clients a new and proven way of selling their product and promoting their brand.

Another growing market for video content is fashion retail. New Zealand is steadily catching up with Europe and the States with more people buying clothes online. More and more online stores feature not just look book / mannequin photographs on their websites but videos of a model walking a catwalk in the garment. This has become the standard on many online shops such as with customers being far more likely to purchase an item they have seen in motion. The hard statistics prove that the inclusion of video content increases customer engagement and drives sales. Video is a very easy sell to your clients- they just need to see the statistics for increased revenue for companies who are using still and video content across multiple platforms. The Google Think study at the end of this article is a good place to start.

While researching this article I came across the phenomenon of ‘haul’ videos. These are 10 to 15 minute videos made with a webcam where a teenager talks to his or her computer screen about a shopping trip. They talk about the shops they visited and show the clothes they bought. That is it. I made it through almost 2 minutes of a haul video by a 17 year old Californian called Beth (MacBarbie07) before skipping to the end searching for a point to the video. I know, you’re thinking the same as me – so far, so narcissistic and irrelevant. That’s until you look at the amount of YouTube followers Beth has – 3,260,637. Imagine a small country filled with girls, credit card in hand, hanging on every word Beth has to say about a cute pair of shorts she found in H&M. A Google study indicates that 4 out of 10 people who watch a haul video will physically visit a store talked about in the video.

So, how is a teenager talking about shopping relevant to your photography business? I personally know a large percentage of commercial photographers working in New Zealand so am certainly not suggesting you all start making webcam videos of yourselves in your bedrooms gushing about a sweater vest you bought for $14 from K-Mart as a way to generate more income. That would be horrible. If fashion retail makes up any part of your business, you should spend some time on which is a ‘video shopping destination’. Sort of a hybrid between a shop, a chat show, a magazine and an infomercial, Joyus is a window into the future of shopping. Scratch the glossy surface of the two-dimensional shopping BFF that is Joyus and you will find some very sound business sense. Unlike traditional advertising and marketing, the metrics for video content are completely quantifiable- Joyus statistics show that every 1,000 video views generates $470 to $930 in direct sales revenue for the products featured. The data shows that video is proven to convert visitors at 5.15 times the rate of those who only browse product listings. “Joyus video viewers also buy 4.9 times more than those who don’t watch the product videos.”.

The figures speak for themselves. Perhaps it’s time to consider adding ‘video production’ to your business card.

Google Think Report

Wall Street Journal article

Video Tutorials from Kingsize Studios

Film-Making for Photographers Workshop

Luke White wrote this article for Issue 197 of The Photographer’s Mail


KINGSIZE 15 Year Anniversary 1998-2013

kingsize 1998 price list


Fifteen years: it’s really been that long !!

I’m often asked, why the studio is called “Kingsize”, and the answer is pretty simple: first, it was a big building, offering a huge studio space, and secondly, I wanted a name that was vaguely Kiwi, so I thought of the iconicCadbury Kingsize Bar of Chocolate. Hence “Kingsize”.

The second most frequently asked questions is: what was the building originally built for: perhaps this is urban myth, but the story goes that it was built for the Naval Reserve: originally Cox’s Creek ran beside the studio (as it still does, underground) and the masted yachts were stored and launched from here. Apparently also at some time, the building was used as a bomb store for the New Zealand Navy.

I was inspired to create Kingsize, based on my observations of L.A. facilities while studying photography at Brooks Institute in California in 1993/94. Realising that such studios and gear hire should be a vital part of the New Zealand industry, and identifying a virtual absence of such services Kingsize was proposed as the answer.

We began with just the main studio space, and at first we had resident photographers sharing the space, while also renting out to client photographers. Myself, Neil Gussey, Mat Blamires, Sally Shapcott, and Ken George were the establishing photographers, and over the years, we have been home to many more: more recently, Aaron K, and Toaki Okano.

As a commercial photographer with nearly ten years experience, I wanted to create a very functional facility, which was community based, and specifically centring around the shared passion of photography (which in recent years has come to include motion picture)

Taking my local experience as a photographer, combined with what I had learnt from the American system of production, (which is comparatively much more complex and extravagant), Kingsize has grown to be many things, but always at it’s core: is a true love of the arts. Today, we offer studio rental, equipment hire, gear sales, consultation, education, and more.

Reflecting on this time, I am most proud of the fact that we have mentored and assisted so many young and emerging photographers and image makers. We have always run intern programs, and placed a huge emphasis on teaching, even though we are a business. To watch the careers of various people grow and flourish is what I hope is our lasting legacy. It is also wonderful that these same people return to Kingsize over the years, and maintain the connection from as far away as Europe, Scandinavia, South America, China, North America, and more.

I am particularly proud of the formal education program we launched this year. Headed by Luke White, these evening classes and weekend workshops formalise what we have been doing in a more casual way over the years. We now run the Assistant Bootcamp several times a year, offer basic and advanced classes in stills and video production, and much more:

Also over the last three months, we have run for the first time, the “Kingsize Scholarship Program“, taking twelve students through an intensive course designed to help launch their imminent careers. The work these students have produced is truly astounding.


Over the last fifteen years, we have seen a lot. The early 2000’s heralded the film to digital transition. Later came the stills to video movement. We have seen economic peaks and troughs which continue to offer challenges: The Millennium, 9/11, and the GFC. We have seen the explosion of social media and the iPhone effect. Photographers, magazines, ad agencies, and facilities have come and gone. Change upon change.

As I look to the next fifteen years, I hope that Kingsize will continue to be a magnet for creativity, experimentation, learning, and business. To the countless clients, crew, supporters, and friends who have made Kingsize possible: thank you. I could not have done this without you.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about a party….soon.

Adam Custins
Founder & owner.


Above photo: our first logo, and our first price list in 1998. Designed by Rachel Doughty of One Design.


The Photographer’s Mail


The Photographers Mail was started in 1991 as a free magazine for professional photographers. After a hiatus of a few years, it is fantastic to see the bi-monthly publication back in print.

If you are a member of the AIPA or NZIPP, you will have already received the first couple of issues. If you are a professional photographer and would like to receive each new TPM in the post for free, simply send an email to Or you can pick one up from Kingsize next time you are in.

Each issue Luke writes an article on film making. If you’ve missed the first couple, you can read them at the images below.





Kingsize Studios is offering 2x scholarships to aspiring professional, or art photographers and talented tertiary students. Scholarship recipients will receive will receive free attendance to a number of 2013 Kingsize technical and theoretical short courses; a one to one mentoring session; and a generous discount on a studio and gear hire package.

You will receive tailored, individual instruction from our expert technical educator, Luke White, along with a grounding in photography history and theory; and portfolio development with artist and educator, Emil McAvoy, and a professional development session with Kingsize founder and photographer, Adam Custins.

Kingsize is interested to support talented emerging photographers, and tertiary students whose financial, or other circumstances might otherwise prevent them from attending our courses. We are looking for highly motivated individuals who will make the most of this opportunity, who we will be confident introducing to our industry networks, and whose progress we can follow and support as you agin leverage in your specific field.

The Scholarship

  1. One place on “Critical Thinking for Photographers”, 4 week workshop.
  2. One place on “Portfolio Development for Photographers”, 3 week workshop.
  3. Your choice of two technical workshops from our 2013 education program.
  4. One mentoring session
  5. 50% discount on a customised studio rental and gear hire package* (some conditions apply)

Please see for further details on our current course offerings.

How To Apply

Send 6-10 photographs, and a maximum of 1x A4 page of text outlining your experience and aspirations, and how you would utilise this opportunity. Applications will be accepted by email only to and myst be received no later than Sunday 30th June. The two successful applicants will be notified via email on Tuesday 2nd July.

We are accepting applications from New Zealand based photographers only. By submitting your photographs, you are agreeing for Kingsize to utilise them in our promotion of your scholarship if you are successful, and in promoting future scholarships within our educational program, only.

We look forward to your applications.



Light Table

12″ x 18″ MEDALight light table

One Roll – Oliver Rose


The current One Roll exhibition was photographed by Oliver Rose and collaged by Johanna Bear.

One Roll is a weekly exhibition where we give a photographer an old camera with a roll of film and ask them to return it to us 7 days later.

It will be on display at Kingsize for one week.


One Roll is in association with the fantastic film lab at Photo Warehouse who develop, print and scan black & white and colour negative as well as transparency film.