As you might know WPPI Las Vegas is the biggest photography trade show on the West Coast and the perfect shopping opportunity for a photographer. If your goal is to find new products and services WPPI is definitely a great option. This year the show was packed with attendees and full of vendors offering everything under the sun related to photography. Since I create a large portion of my images with off camera flash, I am always on the look out for new modifiers and this year was no different. I found a "magnetic modular Speedlite modifier" made by a company call MagMod, and it is revolutionary; yes I said revolutionary, MagMod modestly describes their modifier as:
“The simplest, easiest, strongest, fastest, and sexiest speedlite modifier system for Canon and Nikon hot-shoe flashes, period.”
After reviewing the company and using the product I would definitely say that their statement is pretty accurate! A small flash modifier should solve a problem, be easy to use, and functional. The perfect small flash modifier should support your creativity, save you time and money in the long run. MagMod has definitely addressed those concerns with their new speedlite grid modifier system and I would recommend it hands down.
If you’re skeptical I understand. As a pro photographer, I have used almost all the small flash modifiers on the market and I share the same frustrations you do. My number one issue with most of the products out there is that they all use same design concept, Velcro, which is noisy and cumbersome to assemble. MagMod is clearly different. According to their web site their product uses a “single molded piece of high-quality silicone rubber that is sleek, compact, easy to use, and dead simple.” The product is so well conceived Magmod raised $210,000 for new their grid system on Kick Starter, which is extremely difficult, within 30 days of announcing the project.
I spoke with the developer and founder of MagMod, Spencer Boerup. Boerup, who worked, as a wedding and portrait photographer for years, was inspired create the product because he had used most of the modifiers on the market and was frustrated with all the straps and attachments designs.
Boerup, who described himself as a serial entrepreneur, actually designed rough sketches of the initial concept for the grid system in his spare time. Then he approached other photographers who had similar styles and work and asked them for their “gut” reaction to the concept.” Surprisingly most of the photographers Boerup spoke with had abandoned the idea of using small flash modifiers for the same reasons he did and were apprehensive about the concept.
Bringing MagMod to market was difficult and Boerup met with a lot of resistance. During the testing and research phase some of the photographers he surveyed mentioned “If we could buy these kind of modifiers on Amazon for $5 why we buy something custom. We know it’s convenient but the price is a concern because most them don’t last long.” I know there is a ton of ways we could interpret that statement. But Boerup realized that he was heading down a “wormhole” of perception, price point, and opinions that really border on rhetorical ideas and personal value. Over time those opinions started killing momentum of the project and Boerups’ motivation, he nearly quit 3 or 4 times during the project. Boerup was very concern about the success of the system and mentioned:
“I didn’t ask anyone for money, get loan or get anyone involved because I wanted to make sure it worked.”
After a short break, Boerup regrouped and followed his initial “gut” instinct and took a gamble to finish the project. He hired professional designers, made some 3D prototypes, and through shear determination and hard work found a manufacture. Boerup “rolled the dice” on developing a mold using his own money. When I asked him why he gambled on such a risky apprehensive project Boerup said:
“I just believed in it, I knew it was a product that would solve problems.”
After speaking with Boerup, reviewing user comments and videos, even Scott Kelby talks about the product in a YouTube video,
"Brad just showed me this very clever new hot shoe gel/grid accessory that uses simple built-in magnets to attach them and I am super-digging it. Apparently it was developed as a kickstarter campaign, and I can see what it got built --- just so darn smartly designed, affordable, and it couldn't possibly be easier to use. High five to them!"
It is clear the MagMod is on par to becoming one of the hottest photography and game changing products on the market. In part two I am going to discuss my experiences using Magmod in my lighting workflow on an actual assignment.
Keith B Dixon is a Professional Freelance Photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Keith specializes in corporate event photography, executive portraits, and editorial assignment work in the health care, computer technology, biotech, and real estate. Keith’s work regularly published in print ads, various magazines in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Nationally, Internationally.
Visit Keith’s Website at www.keithbdixon.com