Ambe Williams

Portrait | Last Updated: April 10, 2021

Hellooo, Shotkit! My name is Ambe Williams, and I’m a portrait and headshot photographer based in Brooklyn, NY.

My journey to photography was completely unexpected. If you had asked me a few years ago if I would be a photographer, the answer would have been a laugh.

I am a performer, first and foremost. My Bachelor of Fine Arts is in Theater Performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. When I moved to NYC, it was to start a career in acting, specifically in Musical Theater. And I did just that!

While I was on the road, I always longed for a DSLR to document my experiences, but I never had the courage to start something new.

When I finally did buy my first Canon Rebel T3, the excitement of learning and teaching myself a new craft took over, and I have never looked back.

Now, I am in the 4th year of running my own studio, working intimately with the Broadway community as well as TV and Film Actors.

What’s in my gear bag you ask?

Canon 5D Mark IV

This baby is the heart and soul of my work. Of course, as the saying goes, “it’s not the gear, it’s the photographer behind it.” But the better the gear, the easier it is to nail your shots. This was a huge upgrade, along with my iMac, to improve my workflow and increase my skill set.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Sigma Art Series for the win! This gorgeous, heavy piece of glass is an incredible asset to my work. Since I do shoot a number of headshots I need small details, specifically eyes, to be sharp in my photos. This does the trick!

Sigma 50mm f/1.4

Another lens that I truly adore. While it’s great for indoor studio, it truly shines outside in any environment. I love the speed and the sharpness of this lens.

Canon 35mm f/2

Since I mostly shoot portrait work, I have the flexibility to change my lenses without “missing a shot.” I love this lens for a number of reasons, most importantly, that it’s lightweight, sharp, and wide enough to frame the environment. I typically use this outdoors, but it also gives a unique perspective for indoor studio work.

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

I typically use this lens when my husband and I are shooting weddings together ( I’ve since come around from the days of two camera bodies to using this flexible zoom lens instead. It simply makes more sense to have the width and the telephoto capabilities when you’re shooting photojournalistic style weddings.

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8

Honestly, this lens doesn’t get used as much as it used to. We still bring it out for weddings, to get nice and tight for the ceremony images. Other than that, it stays in our lens storage space these days.

Lighting – The Sun

This hot beautiful star at the centre of our solar system has proven to be quite the reliable light source for my work. If I can, I will almost always use natural light. It’s soft, it’s hard (see guide), and it can be the most interesting element in a photograph.

Paul C Buff DigiBee

This strobe is so reliable and recycles so quickly! I love the quality of the light and how much power it provides. My space is quite small, so it’s a rarity to ever use it at full power. But it’s great that it’s available.

Paul C Buff Alien Bees

The lime green strobe was the first piece of lighting equipment I ever bought. It’s still a major part of my work, especially when I’m using 3+ lights for a shot. Great strobe!


Paul C Buff 86” Soft Silver and 64” Soft Silver Umbrella

These two umbrellas are pivotal to my work. While I love using hard light outside, I typically prefer soft light in the studio. They’re durable and hefty umbrellas that are super affordable and easy to use. I almost always use them with a white diffuser.

13′ Air-Cushioned Light Stand and Flash point C- Stand

A stand is a stand, is a stand, right? Wrong. I bought these stands after a minor accident involving a strobe and the ground. I needed a heavy-duty stand to withstand (double word score) the weight of my strobes with light modifiers, and these two really made the cut.


V-Flat World has changed how I bounce light around my studio. While I could always use foam core, the ease, versatility, and durability that these provide justify their expense.


I would describe my work as lively, colorful, and dreamy. These help create a hazy ethereal effect in camera.

Flash Point Speed Light
AA Batteries for Vello Transmitter/Receivers
WD 4TB External HD
64GB Lexar CF and Sandisk SD

As you can see, I’m not a wealthy photographer with tons of money to spend on native lenses and upper-tier lighting equipment. I make the best of what I have until I’ve saved up enough to justify the expense.

Photography has completely transformed my life and has given me a purpose like no other profession has. | @ambejphotography

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