American photographer David Hobby, author of the lighting blog Strobist that promotes lighting techniques, wrote about learning to use flash, “You may not realize it yet, but you have just stepped through a door that may change your photography forever…Photography is literally writing with light.” And he continues, “…you’ll learn how to take control of your electronic flash. If you can imagine it, you’ll be able to create it.”
I like using flash, and in my many years as a working photographer I rarely photographed people indoors or out without using a flash; and last Sunday with Hobby’s words in mind I led yet another interactive lighting workshop.
Actually I wonder if “study group” might be a better description of what happens when several photographers get together to experiment with flash. Nevertheless, these sessions are always an enjoyable whirlwind session for me as I try to present as much information as I can without reaching information-overload for the participants.
As photographers in the workshop begin to realize how much better, and more creative, their portraits are when they begin taking control of electronic flash they get excited. That excitement is contagious. So much so that I have to remind myself to slow down and explain what I am doing and why I am doing it when I add lights to a portrait setup.
Sunday’s group of photographers were quick learners and were demanding as they pushed limits and exhausted the model, then without skipping a beat, when our ever-so-patient model needed a break, one of the photographers took her place and the group kept on going.
I remember reading a book entitled, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, about student-centered learning over teacher-centered teaching. Sometimes one has to step back from being the center of attention and let people learn by themselves.
When I realized those photographers had reached the point where they were beginning to understand where I was leading them, I just got out of their way and let them be, besides that gave me some time to wander a bit and take some pictures of what was happening.
This first of two sessions, Modeling with Lighting in the Studio is now over.
Next Sunday we’ll be braving British Columbia’s cool October weather as we take our model outdoors to pose in several different locations with different lighting conditions in each. I entitled that, Balancing Lighting Out-Of-Doors.
In the studio we used large and powerful studio lights that recycled instantly. Next Sunday we will use much less powerful, small wireless speedlights that require waiting for batteries to recycle. The quick recycling studio lights are grand, but I like the slower speedlights because they force photographers to think about and plan their next shot.
Last weekend was a lot a fun. It is great being with other photographers and watching them get excited about learning something new. Saying that, I will add a quote by French photographerJacques-Henri Lartigue that I have used several times before, “It’s marvellous, marvellous! Nothing will ever be as much fun. I’m going to photograph everything, everything!”
Oh wish I could come along!
Ya fragg…that would be so neat.
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Sounds like a lot of fun!… 🙂
I keep ’em working, but using flash is fun.
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Not so much of a flash person myself, really… Sure, I did use it occasionally and also learned how to use it – but it is such a long time ago that I would probably have to dive for my notes by now… 😉 So, your workshop would have been fun for me too…
As the Academy is not so rich, there were none of those professional flash installations in their studio. But even with the good old lamps and filters, I did love the studio work. But in ‘real’ life, I still prefer available light, sometimes to a fault… 😉
Sometimes, as in street photography, flash isn’t the best tool. However, I have found that when my subject wants a picture, flash is an essential. When we used film I would have said it was because I could ad depth to my photograph. Now using digital I would of course say that, but now we know that adding flash give more data & digital information to an image.
But I agree with you that sometimes natural light is the best way to go.
Regarding not so rich teaching studios. When I was teaching I could never get the fine art department to give me $$ for lighting equip. So instead I got some old used flashes and nightstands that I repaired myself and taped lightbulb on ’em as modeling lights.
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Well, it seems it’s the same everywhere when someone has to pay up… 😀
When the ‘powers that be’ are in a saving frenzy, its usually the arts that go first… together with the poor And even a well-sounding name as The Royal Academy of Fine Arts doesn’t make a difference 😀