Thursday, February 25, 2010
Full Day Workshop - behind the scenes
So last Sunday I hosted my first ever portrait photography workshop. I was so terrified, but in retrospect, I am so glad I did it. For years, people have been asking if I do workshops and I have to say, the idea always seemed absurd considering I have never even been to one myself. But a good client asked me once more before Christmas, saying it was the only gift his wife wanted, and so after some persuading, I decided to go for it. And once the date was in the diary, there was no turning back. And although I didn't sleep for a few weeks leading up to the workshop, I have to say, I was blown away by how inspired and inspiring all the people were who joined. They all made it so easy to talk about what I love to do, and of course I don't think I am all that, but just sharing the tid bits I have learned over the years with people who just want to take better shots of their loved ones what truly worth while.
We started the morning with tea and biscuits, and some getting to know each other time before I started my slide show presentation. I chose to keep the setting intimate and used all my mad antiques for everyone to sit on rather than bring in formal chairs. I felt it set the tone for the day.
Before lunch, we had a practice indoor session with Maya who was just the most amazing model. She was so patient and did whatever I asked, and her expressions were such a mixture of intelligence, curiosity and knowingness all rolled into one that she was the ideal subject.
Next up was lunch, but as you can see by the stark little floral arrangment on the table, Oslo and Indigo were not very successful on their adventure out to find decorations for the table. The winds have been slamming us straight on for about 4 months now and aside from my mind rattling around in my head from the constant howling outdoors, the plants haven't fared too well either. But Oslo insisted on putting his "bouquet" in a vase and so the table had some wind burned daisies as its centre piece. I am all about charm don't you know.
When everyone told me they were just expecting a couple sandwiches, I was thrilled at their surprise with the full spread of goodies. We barely made a dent in the food so now I know for future, but this was my first one so there was bound to be a learning curve, and I am ever so grateful that we didn't run out of things to eat, for that is a learning curve I am happy to have done without.
Since we have had such a strange winter so far, with most of my shoots being cancelled due to the bad weather, I was utterly terrified to see what storms may roll in that day. Although it was not a perfect day for photography, we were blessed with patches of glorious shooting light. There were bursts of sunshine interspersed with large heavy clouds throughout our outdoor session which made it tricky for the poor students who were ambitiously trying to shoot in full manual mode for the first time. The changing light conditions made it nearly impossible for them to get perfect in camera exposures, but also for me to find the ideal set up spot for our models. Nevertheless, we were lucky to be outdoors and learning in all sorts of conditions so everyone was able to practice in more different scenarios than they had bargained for I am sure.
Our next three models were sisters, and they were simply astounding. I was concerned that I had only booked children for the practical parts of the workshop, for there is a saying about never working with children or animals. I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly impressed by their attentiveness and patience while I bossed them around to look here, look there, move this, hold that. Not only do they look like angels but they played the part perfectly too.
This image above is of Pam, who was already very experienced in using her camera. I just thought I would share a lovely note she sent a few days after the workshop:
I can't thank you enough for your excellent workshop on Sunday. I am a passionate macro flower photographer and love landscapes and nature photography also. I have avoided portrait photography at all costs because I just have never felt comfortable with it. I must say, I am feeling very different about that now. I loved your suggestion of getting that lens. I have focused on animals but never on a person in that way. I have made my daughter and husband sit with me and look at all my images from Sunday. That was before any processing. They loved them. Your tips on processing were great. I never thought about some of the things you mentioned before. The information you shared on lighting and composition were very helpful. I can't wait for my granddaughters to become a little less fidgety so I can practice on them. On Monday, I found myself telling them to look at me and smile and then I remembered what you said and stopped immediately. Of course, the food was delicious, both the lunch and the tea time. Your models were the best. I can't stop looking at my images of Maya in your room. Just beautiful! And, of course, Skye, Alice and Florence were exquisite. The clothes, the hair, the props and their gorgeousness were all superb. I thought the shot of the 3 of them lying on the ground was going to be hokey but I must say the images are wonderful. Very surreal and serene. Again, thank you for all the time you put into planning the workshop and for your presentations and hands on image making. It was the best. I will look forward to hearing about your advanced workshops.
Lana, my lovely assistant, was a star all day. She was my pillar of strength and I could not have pulled it off without her. From helping change the slides in my presentation, to holding the reflector (first time using it for me too!), to taking care of all the props once we were done, she was just my saving grace, and for her constant support, I am inexplicably thankful.
I didn't shoot the way I usually do that day - in fact I didn't shoot much at all, and sadly, I didn't control the scene as much as usual either for I wanted to focus on teaching and sharing. Yet somehow, it all was just dreamy and I am thrilled with the results, not just my own images, but even more, with what everyone else was showing me on their LCD screens too. I can't wait to see the final photos as they come in from the students.
So thank you to everyone who made the day possible, and to my wonderful students for believing in me enough to sign up, show up, and for inspiring me with your passion. I can't wait to do the next workshop in a few weeks as well as the other ones in the future. For now, stay tuned to see some shots from the actual shoots themselves later this week!