Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lighting Workshop at the Marina


Early this February, I put together a workshop that I had been planning for a couple of years. I wanted to take people through a model shoot from start to finish, including the post-processing work. I always felt that workshops tend to always leave something out. You leave with that feeling of "OK, I got that, but what now?" This workshop seemed like it was just not meant to be though. Every time I started planning it, something happened, that killed it before it even started.

Finally, in October of last year, I had a model contact me about participating in a workshop. This was the perfect opportunity to finally put this together. I made some calls, and once again, I was not able to pull it together before the holidays, when it's just not a good time to put on a workshop. 

I was not going to let it die so easily this time. I kept on contacting everyone, including the model, who I would need to make this happen so it would not be forgotten. Finally in mid January, it looked like everything was coming together. I had a partner, Mark Haworth,  to do the workshop with me. We had a very cool location and 2 models. We got the word out through a meetup group and people started to sign up.

Things were touch and go all the way to the end. Some people backed out at the last minute, we lost the makeup artist 2 days before the workshop and the model who had originally contacted me about doing a photo shoot disappeared! She stopped answering e-mails and txt messages, she would not answer the phone nor return voice messages.

Fortunately, my second model was very dependable and we were lucky to have one of the participants convince his girlfriend, a former professional model, to help us out (Lindsay can be seen at the top of this post).

In the end, it was a success, we even got some walk-ins who had not signed up through the meetup site which made up for the drop-outs. I think everyone learned a lot and had a great time. I learned a great deal about organizing a workshop and making sure to have back-up plans for the back-up plans.

Continue reading for more images and some behind the scenes images from the workshop.


Sheena was our other model that day. She is my neighbor and wanted to have some modeling pictures taken. We started the workshop talking about lighting head shots and 3/4 portraits. We went through some different backgrounds and some different techniques using 1, 2 and 3 lights. 

The format was pretty laid back. I shot some images tethered to a computer to demonstrate the effects we were going for and then the participants took over and experimented on their own. We added reflectors and experimented with variations of the original lighting. I feel the best way to learn something is to experiment on your own. We provided some guidance but for the most part let the participants lead. The idea was to let them develop their own vision for an image and then find a setup that will result in that vision.

After going through a few different setups for indoor head shots, we split up into 2 groups and headed outside for some strobe / ambient light balancing exercises. The location we were shooting in was the Rybovich Marina in West Palm Beach. The weather was not the best. We had cloudy skies and even a little rain that day. It was actually the perfect opportunity to show a cool trick to get a nice blue sky on a gray overcast day. The image on the right was my demo of this process.

All the participants had a great time shooting our models all over the marina. We taught proper use of reflectors when you don't have strobes, ways to use the strobes to augment the natural light, using strobes to simulate sunlight when nature does not cooperate. I think most people were surprised to see how adding the strobes gave new life to the images. 
All members participated, not only shooting but also helping out. It is also important to learn how to properly hold a reflector and how to position and set up a light.

The workshop got interrupted by a little rain which became the perfect opportunity to take a break and do the retouching part of the class. The marina's crew lounge had several large HD TVs which we used to connect the computer up to. We went through the selection process and then some basic retouching techniques.

We still had some time after the rain stopped to head out and use some great natural light to end the day. We took advantage of the golden hour of sunset to get some more images around the marina.

When the sun went down we brought out the strobes again and kept on shooting right into twilight.

Once we were done, we hung out with all the participants to answer any questions they may still have. Everyone exchanged e-mails, cards, phone numbers, etc... You make some great friends at these things!

Well, that was it. A fun day of shooting and sharing knowledge about photography. We got some great pictures of some lovely ladies, and met some interesting people. I hope to do some more of these soon, I really enjoyed it.

If you found this account of the workshop interesting, keep an eye out on my main website. I am working on a workshop page where I will have a schedule of workshops that cater to all levels of photographers, from advanced to the snapshooter.