Joseph Giitter

Joseph Giitter (BIO)

Joseph (Joe) Giitter is not your ordinary photographer. His career started as a nuclear engineer for Westinghouse and eventually led to his appointment to the Senior Executive Service of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he was responsible for the licensing of the 100 operating reactors in the United States. Joe taught at the Washington (DC) School of Photography on night and on weekends and took family and senior portraits in his spare time. In August 2018, Joe decided it was time to make photography his full time career. He moved to Omaha and opened up a studio in an old furniture factory in the Millwork Commons District of downtown Omaha. He is currently serving on the board of the Professional Photographers of Nebraska.

While he continues to shoot family and senior portraits, his work has expanded to corporate and event photography, including Opera Omaha. Joe, a Master Photographer, has been an IPC medalist for four years in a row and has been a certified Professional Photographer since 2011. His wildlife images have been featured in regional and national publications, including the cover of National Wildlife Magazine. He was the 2017 Maryland PPA Illustrative Photographer of the Year. His album, “Flying High” was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Grand Imaging Awards. In addition to teaching at the Washington School of Photography he also taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the FEMA Emergency Management Institute.

Joe received engineering degrees from Iowa State and the University of Tennessee. He also completed a Photography Master course of study at Montgomery College and received executive training at Gallup University, the Federal Executive Institute, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the National War College.


Class Title: Kiss Boring Lighting Goodbye.

(This is a streamlined version of a class that I taught for Professional Photographers of Nebraska in August of 2019).


I will briefly describe my background, including how I use the three different lighting set-ups that will be covered in this hands-on class. Although the course material is based on the assumption that most attendees have a good fundamental understanding of lighting, I will provide a refresher on important concepts such as the inverse square law, the effect of various modifiers, and the importance of properly metering light ratios.

Beauty Lighting 

I will briefly give examples of butterfly lighting before I illustrate how to set up lights to achieve the effect. This will include the “how to” on lighting a white background to achieve proper high key lighting. We will then add some additional lights/reflectors to illustrate basic clamshell lighting. I will ensure ample time to allow students to photograph the various lighting set-ups. 

Dramatic Low Key Portraiture 

After providing some examples of some images that used this lighting style, I will progressively walk through my system for “building” a dramatic low key lighting set-up. We will start with hatchet lighting and it’s use for dancer and figure photography. We will then add a key light and a reflector and use the hatchet lights as kicker lights. I will ensure we allow ample time for the students to shoot. 

Colored Gels 

Time permitting, I will go over the proper technique for using colored gels. This will very little additional set-up since I will already have a black background in place.