About Honl Photo
From Digital SLR Photography Magazine
A camera, speedlights, ballistic nylon and a ... sewing machine: this was the basis of photojournalist David Honl's successful range of flash modiﬁers, and it all started in the Iraq war 7 years ago. Inspired? You soon will be...
"When I moved to Istanbul to cover the Iraq war, I took my Speedotron studio system in case I could do any corporate portraits, but hauling all that kit in and out of a taxi quickly made me rethink. I started to mould cardboard snoots for my speedlights to make my lighting more mobile and it worked much better; it lightened my load and gave my portraits creative flexibility. I was surrounded by ballistic nylon in Iraq and its durability was perfect for small flash modiﬁers like snoots and gobo cards, which I secured to speedlights with Velcro. Most of my designs were done when I had downtime in Baghdad and then I sewed them together when I got to Istanbul," recalls David. He found that a lot of the American photojournalists in Turkey at the time started taking an interest in his kit and asked if he could make them a set, too.
One thing led to another and it quickly spread to the professional community in the US. Within a couple of months, he had a sewing contractor in the States and his father was shipping the products. It was almost an overnight success and once websites like Strobist.com got hold of the products, demand escalated, requiring him to move back to the US quickly to manage the burgeoning business. "A lot of my success, I believe, came from testing the products with photographers before making any investment," adds David. "I would never recommend, if you believe you have a good idea, to make 1,000 pieces and hope they sell. You have to test the market and that's easy with the internet to help spread the word."