Sunday 7th August marked the first of my new series of Photography Workshops in partnership with my awesome friends over at Pixapro. What a day it was!
We had attendees from near and far with one of our photographers coming from north of Edinburgh, which was a huge compliment in itself that someone was willing to travel that far to listen to what I had to say.
Although the day had a loose structure I wanted to maintain a good open dialogue throughout the day to ensure that our group got everything that they wanted to from the session. Whether that be linked to lighting, posing, copyright and even photography ethics. We covered a wide range of subjects in the breakout session which led to some really interesting points around the photography industry as a whole.
So the content started with a quick introduction of who I am and what I do, how I go about planning Fashion and Editorial shoots, how I incorporate the team (notice I’m not giving too much away here…… you’ll need to book onto the workshop to find that out ) and how to keep communication between all parties at the forefront of everything to ensure that the vision is shared and leaves no room for confusion.
We reviewed a selection of images, talked about how they’d been lit, and more importantly why. This helped give the group a real insight into the differences between shooting for yourself, in which case I’d use much more creative lighting to flatter the model, and shooting for the client which would be more steered towards ensuring that the garments are perfectly and evenly lit to give maximum exposure for the clothing.
Before we broke for lunch, we walked around outside of my studio (which is in a housing estate, on a main road, surrounded by largely uninspiring scenery) to look for locations to shoot with our models after the break. We picked out 7/8 different locations ranging from brickwork to long grass in front of some allotments and a church to wrought iron gates. We talked through how we could shoot the images dependant on who we were shooting for; ourselves or the client. This makes a big difference to how they would be shot. We talked through the lighting we would be using, namely the Pixapro CITI600 strobe (see my review here) and a Pixapro Speedlight and associated trigger systems.
After lunch it was time to put the lighting and locations through their paces. We started up on the fire escape of the studio, now baring in mind we had 60mph winds in the North East, this was a real battle to keep the CITI and a 120cm Octabox still without being blown over! This fire escape is on the 2nd floor of my studio and offers an interesting perspective with its dark walkway and bright sky behind.
Our model Harriotte wore a long flowing blouse which allowed a lot of movement in this wind, although it was a difficult set to shoot with Harriotte’s hair constantly blowing into her face, she handled it phenomenally to create some tremendous images.
Settings: 1/8000 sec, F1.8, iso 100.
After battling in what seemed to be a massive wind trap, we moved to the next location that we had picked out for our other model Grace.
Now this section of brickwork is the side of a newsagent on a busy road. But, it is also extremely detailed, reflects light brilliantly and offers a great backdrop for some edgy images. We shot this section with a bare Speedlight because we wanted a harsh lighting effect without softening the light too much. As you can see from the diagram below, we set this about 45 degrees between the camera and Grace which allows us to create a harsh shadow while still getting a good even coverage on the face and clothing.
While I would usually use this effect with the zoom effect on the flash, I decided to shoot this one at the standard flash coverage. This still allowed me to create a high contrast image through killing most of the ambient light, and having quite a small aperture.
Settings: 1/160 sec, F13, iso 100.
Moving away from the street look, we literally walked over the street to our next location. One of the things I always teach my groups whether it be a Fashion or a Wedding Photography Workshop is that if you’re struggling for a location or background, use the sky! Get down low and look up and if you’ll have a pretty much infinite background to use.
So with that in mind we picked out some long grass in between a church and some allotments. I know pretty uninspiring right? The dilapidated old sheds and stripping paintwork of the church fence didn’t look the most appealing at standing height anyway.
“Get down on your knees” was the instruction to the photographers in the group to change perspective and create a hugely different image.
We were really battling the elements at this point, bright sunshine followed by dark clouds paired with a very strong wind made for an interesting time while shooting this set up.
Because of the bright sun we wanted to take out as much ambient light as possible to ensure that our light would give a nice even light on Harriotte’s face, and with that in mind we were shooting right up at 1/8000 sec using the High Speed Sync Function of the CITI600 light. Getting that lower angle and shooting to that everlasting background, also known as the sky, allowed us to create an image that could have been shot in a big open field while only using a space of 3/4ft in total.
Settings: 1/8000 sec, F2.5, iso 100.
After much battling with the wind and several near misses with dropping the light we decided to head indoors so that we could shoot our last set in a studio environment to create some simple yet stunning images.
All in all I’d say that this Workshop was a great success being that it was the first of this new series. But don’t just take my word for it, here is what some of our attendees said…..
“This was probably the best value for money workshop that I have been on. I particularly liked the fact that we were not in a hotel but in Chris’ place of work, his studio. This was real added value as we could see how he worked and the kit he used. I also think that made for a more relaxed and ‘audience participation’ kind of environment and worked really well”
“Friendly, Informative, Helpful,Enjoyable and Eyeopening”
Images by Tom Feeney
“I have a fair degree of studio lighting experience having my own small studio in Dunfermline. However, with little experience using studio lights outside on location I was looking to gain confidence in setting them up and using them to best effect in an outside environment. I came away from the workshop confident I can now do this. I learned a lot, particularly how easy it was to use a single light to such good effect. Also that you do not need to travel far to find excellent locations for great shots.”
Images by Gordon Scott
“As a semi professional with a number of years under my belt, but self taught and never having been on such a course before, i was keen to find one in my field of fashion/portraits and where I could benefit from the experience of others, learning sometimes the little things that others might use, getting a glimpse of the tips and techniques, and if nothing else expose my badf habits. This course lived up to this entirely”
If you’re interested in attending one of my workshops, please fill in the form below for more information.