Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman

Building a bridge in the Light the Portrait workshop

This past weekend I led the first day of a workshop titled “Light the Portrait”. My goal during the two sessions was to help photographers understand how to use light, indoors or out, when they photograph people.

Fear-of-Flash has always been a topic of discussion for photographers photographing weddings, and portraits both indoors and out.

American photographer and author of the Strobist.com blog David Hobby said, “…You hear a photographer say, “I’m a strictly available light photographer, I’m a purist.”

“What I hear is, I’m scared of using light so I’m going to do this instead.”

“Well, for me lighting was a way to start to create interesting pictures in a way that I could do it.”

It’s with those words that I began the workshop that would discuss using both studio lights and speed lights. Adding that personally, I always use a flash when I make a portrait of someone inside or outside. I don’t care if the ambient light is bright or dim.

My goal is to not only help photographers gain an understanding of off-camera lighting, but to also convince them that using flash will separate their photography from those that rely on natural or as I prefer calling it, “ambient light”.

The first session was about the big studio lights and accompanying light modifiers like, umbrellas, softboxes and reflectors, to name a few that we employed during the day.

Those of us in the Kamloops area are fortunate to have a local portrait studio that is not only large enough for a class, but also is packed with all sorts of lighting equipment, backdrops and change rooms for models. The portrait studio, Versatile Studio, also comes complete with a kitchen and dining area. And there are all sorts of props for posing.

All I needed to do was write up my lesson plan, print some handouts, book the studio, hire a model and show up in time to start leading participants into the exciting world of off-camera lighting.

I enjoy leading; I like that word better than “teaching”.

I know to teach “is to show or explain to people how to do something”, but most of those that attend know a lot about photography and have already been shooting portraits for some time.

All I need to do is build a bridge for them between what they already know and what I am presenting.

And, as I stand with them in the studio/classroom I get to watch that quick tightening of shoulders, widening of eyes and smiles when they suddenly get it.

When that happens I can’t help but smile too.

Well, the first day is over and, as usual, they tired me out.

However, I am already looking forward to next week with those enthusiastic photographers (and our energetic model).

I wonder if I should begin next week’s session with the words of legendary filmmaker from the 1920s, D.W. Griffith. “Lights camera action”.

These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or emcam@telus.net. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. I sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment.

Don’t hesitate to call me at 250-371-3069.

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