Light Talk Blog 2020 – Ep1 / Vlog Ep19

By Martin Klaasen
(written content taken from the Light Talk Vlog recorded 16August 2020 & published on YouTube; edited and adapted for Medium by Ingmar Klaasen)


Welcome to the Light Talk Platform.  My name is Martin Klaasen and welcome to another edition of the Light Talk Vlog in written form.  Let me give you a bit of background about myself.  I have been a professional lighting designer for over 40 years and during that time have received multiple awards.  Back in 2009 I blogged about my experiences on a daily basis for a full year.  This compilation of blogs became my first book titled ‘Light Talk, A Year in the Life of Light’.  My second book, ‘Light Talk 2, 16 Years in the Life of Light’, offers an incredible insight on how the lighting industry has evolved; a compilation of 16 years of writing for Lighting Today Magazine. 

In 2020 I made the transition from the written blog to recording this on video, which is now the Light Talk Vlog, where I continue to share my experiences throughout the year in the life of a professional lighting designer; the challenges, opportunities, the business and future of the lighting design industry.  We have now also extended this to the audio form, the Light Talk Podcast, in order to capture a wider listening audience.  In this vein, I am also making a return to the written blog, which now will be an edited transcription of the vlog; for those of you who like to read.  

I hope you all thoroughly enjoy the journey.  This first blog post in Aug 2020 is also podcast episode 1, is actually a continuation of the vlog which started at the beginning of the year.  The vlog is now in episode 19 and runs concurrently.  We will hopefully find you in whichever way, shape or form suits you in following our Light Talk platform.  Here we go. 


A Social Media Lighting Challenge

This week I’m also picking up a challenge.  Some of you may have noticed that there’s a lighting challenge going on on social media where people are being challenged to post something about lighting: one picture about lighting every day for seven days.  I was nominated several times… by Sakina by Pierre-Yves Panis and a few others.  Thank you very much for nominating me.  It puts me under a little bit of pressure, which generally I don’t really like.  Since I like to do my own thing I thought of combining it with my Light Talk Vlog.  Hence, I have projected an image of the moon, as you can see behind me, to illustrate the natural effects that we see in our daily lives.  The moon is an amazing thing, it doesn’t have light by itself, rather it reflects light from the sun.  By itself that is already an amazing type of illumination.  You can walk around at night under moonlight, it gives you enough light.  It’s an amazing source of illumination. 

Simultaneously I’ve used an uplight for added dramatic effect on my face.  I did this to also illustrate that by playing with the direction of light you can create different moods and effects.  So that is my part on picking up this challenge.  I may do more in the coming days but I may not do it every day.  Without being pressured into posting something every day I will definitely pick up the challenge and post other things that relate to lighting; this is the first one (call it ‘day one’).   

New Phenomenon in our Workplace: Virtual Project Reviews

Currently I am in Perth, Western Australia, as many of you will know, and enjoying the freedom.  Here there’s still not that much going on in terms of Coronavirus restrictions.  There have not been any community cases since April I believe, so you can walk around freely without any facemask.  You go into a restaurant and you wouldn’t know that there’s any Coronavirus pandemic going on.  It’s a very interesting change from reading the newspapers or seeing what’s in the news on TV. 

It’s quite challenging out there in the world.  So, for all means and purposes I have to say that this is probably a very nice environment to be in.  Having said that, I’m still confined to my office to work internationally and we are seeing new phenomenon appear in our work such as doing virtual reviews of our projects.  We have started doing this now and are in the process of creating a checklist for contractors to go out there and video record things the way that we want to see them because reporting virtually about something is not the same thing as being there yourself. 

We have found that we need to give the contractors and the one that actually reviews for you on site some specific guidelines on how to film and record on video.  And because light is very much about actually seeing things you can get very different and very mixed views of whether something is right or not.  When on site I know whether the lighting is good or not, however, when I judge a photo or a video recording it’s much more difficult to do that.  Even in this video you may notice some variation in brightness in terms of the lighting and the contrast ratios from the light and the balance may change because the camera lens adapts to different situations.  We are developing that right now.  That’s a new thing that is happening and as long as there’s no international travel for the foreseeable short-term future we’ll be confined to reviewing our projects long distance.   

So that’s what we have to deal with and it’s something that all of us have to face, but it’s something that we’re trying to work out and see how we can do that. 

An Increased Demand for Local Supply-Chain

Besides that, the other thing that we are noticing is that there is an increased demand for local consultants, local workers, local contractors and local supply.  Here in Australia there is a tendency, even within the state, to try and find the consultants and the supplies from within their own state to avoid unnecessary delays or problems with supply chains.  Not only in Australia, but also in other parts of the world, we are finding it an interesting situation where there is demand for more local support.  Since KLD (Klaasen Lighting Design) has offices in Indonesia, China, Europe and of course Singapore, it is currently helping us secure some work.  We definitely have a lot of work on our on our plate right now, which is good.  You never know how long it’s going to continue of course, but it’s something that we feel is definitely something that may be helping us because we have a bit of a spread and a presence in various countries.   

Developing our Virtual Office Collaboration & Social Media Presence

We have no idea, I mean in term of a Coronavirus vaccine it’s probably still months and months away, probably sometime early next year; and even then we may not be the first ones that will have access to it.  We may well be in this situation into the next year and will continue to have a lot of travel restrictions.  This means we’ll have to work virtually from our offices for some time to come.   

I’m not sure if I mentioned it last time, nevertheless, we are working on developing a platform within our office so we can collaborate virtually between our team members.  It’s something that we feel is really important that we can still communicate, share

files and work together as part of this new world.  We still need to see how that is going to develop. 

Meanwhile we are also focusing on our social media presence as an important means of communication.  So it’s important to develop those portals and those communication lines through social media to be able to enhance your presence and your communication with your contacts in the business community.  That’s one of the things that we are very much focusing on at this moment and reaching out to people and this vlog/blog/podcast obviously is one of those media forms we are developing.  

It’s certainly not a time where you can sit back and relax. It’s hands-on at the moment, it’s full speed ahead.  You really need to keep focussed to make sure that you make the best of this situation, which I think everybody is trying to figure out: what to do, which way to work and how to keep their business afloat.  It’s the same for us, we will have to see whether this is the right direction and probably in a couple of months we’ll know if things are working.  But for now, we can just focus and do our best to make sure that our business remains relevant in these times of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

I wish everybody strength.  Please stay motivated, stay positive and we’ll speak soon.  Thank you.

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19. August 2020 by Martin Klaasen
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