Rob Van Petten

“For an image to be successful, the mood must support the moment. Set the stage, and create that mood with the lighting.”

“Having distinctive lighting is about finding a finer degree of finesse. A little bit more contrast here, a little bit deeper there, keep refining, until suddenly you have found that magic factor. The dynamics of light and shadow move the readers eye exactly where you intended it. The lights are a fluid part of the process – continually being adjusted as the shot evolves. The 2040 heads are so light and simple, that adjustment is effortless. Having radio-sync built in was a brilliant stroke. The smaller 500 watt second packs have become my standard, since going all digital. I require less power and I have the advantage of faster re-cycle.

Dynalites have a clean comprehendible control system. Compact, fast, functional and a Variator too. They are durable enough for the hard road. They are consistent enough that printers have called saying ‘Whatever you’re doing, don’t change it.’ They are light enough that I can appear very generous and offer to carry the lights..”


Rob Van Petten had every intention of becoming a famous rock guitar player. Somewhere along the way he began taking pictures of rock bands and got more work shooting pictures than playing his guitar. Then 35 years went by.

Now Rob shoots fashionable pictures for advertising and editorials. Guitar music still plays continuously in the background. Metal textures, modern architecture and cosmic lighting contribute to the effects in these digitally manipulated images. The use of light energizes the images beyond just illuminating the scene.

Rob’s current portfolio, Near Future, is a colorful collection of fantasy illustrations — cosmic comix. These pictures tell a short story of whimsical future fiction. The toys are high tech. The action is fun and fashionable. The moment is when the techno and the trendy merge.

Rob Van Petten grew up in a Navy family and traveled extensively. He began documenting his families travels in Japan at age 10. At 12 he borrowed his father’s Nikonand never gave it back. He is convinced that the power of photographs is a force to implement global cultural tolerance.

Rob received a photojournalism degree from Boston University School of Communicationand was photo editor of the BU News.

He had an early introduction to the digital world, developing marketing images for Data General, Digital Equipment, NEC, and other computer giants. He produced annual reports for Gillette, and General Electric for several years. He helped build brand identities for Reebok, Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, Etonic, Robert Mondavi, Ray Ban, Rockport, Levis, Converse, Bose, Kodak and Polaroid. Rob has travelled worldwide shooting fashion catalogs for clients including Talbots, Carroll Reed, and Johnny Appleseed, Garnet Hill, Bob’s Stores and Foot Locker. He has recently shot a series of large format print images for Proctor & Gamble., shot a website for Reebok, and a series of images for Nikon’s new D3X camera.

Rob has won numerous Communications Arts, Art Directors Club and Andy Awards over the past 30 years. With a shift toward the internet, his website has won the FWA Award, the TINY Award and Yahoo’s Favorite Site. He has been featured in Photo District News, American Photo, Petersen’s Photographic, Studio Photography & Design, and Digital Photo Pro. He has endorsements with several equipment manufacturers including Nikon andDyna-lite. He is currently the host of Big Shot Workshops.

Rob speaks regularly on digital imaging topics for the Mentor Series, at the Photo Plus Expo and PMA. Recently his articles have appeared in Nikon World, Nikon Pro, Kodak Pro Pass and Digital Photo Pro.

He believes that the digital desktop is the global melting pot. The internet is the modern messenger of truth and tolerance. He believes that molecular formulas hold the key to good fashion accessorizing. Rob’s images lead us to a safer more whimsical vision of the future where modern is amusing and the future is more fun.

Dynalite VIP Rob Van Petten at Boston University

Dynalite VIP Rob Van Petten instructed recently at the Center For Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University.  Students and attendees witnessed first hand how Rob creates his images which have been used worldwide. 

Rob Van Petten lecturing students at CFDIA at BU.

Rob Van Petten using the Dynalite Ring Flash

Thank you Jim Morton and the folks at Dynalite for coming up to CDIA and letting me show off all your beautiful new toys. This SR-3200 Ring Flash is a beautifully designed piece and is much lighter than it looks. The beauty dish grid is also on my list. Great fun. Very successful event. Thanks Jim! Thanks CDIA for inviting us to do this. - Rob Van Petten