my first portrait photography workshop

So I thought it might be cool to try hosting a photography workshop. I get a fair number of questions by email (keep sending them, it's fun!) about photography. I would say the top five are as follows:

- can you recommend a good camera?
- can you recommend a good lens?
- can you share tips for photography without flash or lighting setups?
- how do you work with constantly changing lighting conditions?
- how do you make people feel comfortable in front of the camera?

Building on these questions, I designed a mini test workshop (a pilot, if you will) to attempt to offer some answers and ideas.

As this was just a trial, I wanted to keep it very small, so I opened up just a few spots to the first few people to email me. If things went well, I would plan to offer a real deal workshop later this year.

We were extremely lucky to have the lovely Tiffany on board as a model. She and I met in the morning so I could do her hair and makeup, and then headed down to a coffee shop to get started. Over warm drinks and the loud buzz of an espresso machine, we chatted about photography. I did my best to answer any questions, while walking them through the process of a shoot from concept to delivery.

I talked about how the most important thing to me is making my clients feel amazing. I want them to enjoy the experience of being photographed (and how comfortable they felt) as much as they enjoy the photos.

After our talk, we ventured outside to try shooting in a variety of lighting conditions. I gave the students several challenges, and they definitely rose to the occasion!

Challenge 1: Dirty Parking Lot

We started in the parking lot of an abandoned gas station. I wanted to challenge them to make any setting work for them.

Here's Elisa, snapping away.

Here's Ariel, working with Tiffany.

And the whole group, including Jennifer and Mark.

By the way, both the suede jacket and boots are hand-me-downs from my grandma. Can you say timeless style? I sent her photos of the outfit and she responded, "Oh, that could have been me when I was young! Mind you, I wouldn't have been walking around in dirty snow."

Touché, Grammy.

Tiffany's working it for the group.

Challenge 2: Backlight

For these photos, I was showing the group how to shoot when the sun is behind your subject. We were in between locations at this point, when I noticed the light was perfect. That's why poor Tiffany is carrying all these bags.

Challenge 3: Diffused Light

This beautiful, soft lighting was created by the sun shining through a glass walkway. I had been explaining to the students to watch for light reflecting and being diffused naturally, when Mark actually spotted this gorgeous patch of light. 

And yes, to my non-Canadian readers, Tiffany is wearing a spring dress while there's snow on the ground. It was warm that day and the snow was melting. We're not that hardcore in Canada!

Challenge 4: full sun

For this challenge, we tackled bright, full, mid-afternoon sun. I taught them the importance of letting your client's eyes rest in between shots.

Challenge 5: low and mixed lighting

For the final challenge, we worked with the particularly frustrating combination of dark shade and bright, concentrated patches of light. Although in both of the two photos below, I overexposed Tiffany's skin, I don't mind the drama this mistake created.

Stepping into the shadows in the exact same spot, I talked about the importance of holding still, bracing your arms against your body, and holding your breath when shooting in low light. 

Thank you, Tiffany for modelling for us. You did an absolutely fabulous job, and no one would know you'd never ever modelled before. You're a natural!

Thank you to my students, for taking a chance on a pilot project and for all your valuable insights and feedback!

To everyone else: you are interested in hearing about future workshops, email me at info[at]dallascurow[dot]com and I'll keep you in the loop!

I'll end with this last photo is by Jennifer. I'm so proud of her - it's fabulous!