A whirlwind week at Image Explorations

I rolled in to the airport last night after spending the week at Lake Shawnigan, near Victoria, BC, teaching a photo workshop for Image Explorations. Clare pointed out a woman on the jetway as we all waited for our plane-side bags. She was a someone who I had taken her portrait, with her 1 yr. old daughter, maybe 10 years ago. The funny thing is that, to this day, I still use the portrait of her and her daughter in some of my presentations because I love it so much. It has a timeless, serene feel to it. She looked a little different, so I didn't make the connection at first, but I soon recognized her eyes. Her daughter wasn't with her, but I imagined though how she might look today. I would never have recognized her daughter in a million years. So much changes in people in 10 years - especially in children.


My reflection on the significance of this probably stemmed from the closing program at Image Explorations by Arthur Rainville. Arthur is a lifelong portraitist and educator with amazing humbleness, a wonderful sense of humor, and a deep desire to share. He gave a very emotional program that made us all reflect on the power and importance of the story telling and preservation powers of photography. There was nary a dry eye in the auditorium when Arthur was finished, and it sent us all home with a powerful feeling that we, as photographers, bear an important historical and artistic responsibility. 


It was like a time warp, to see this woman as she is - 10 years later, when I still look at the old photograph and she hasn't changed in my mind. I started to wonder if her daughter, today, would remember herself as she was back then. Did she have the same photo that I did out and visible every day? I often wonder if I could remember more about my own childhood if I had been looking at photos of myself, my adventures, my friends, on every day of my adolescent life. 


IE in a nutshell.


It was great to see some good friends at Image Explorations. Instructors Vicki & Jed Taufer shared their latest style and marketing tips - including one of their hottest new markets, pet photography! Vicki has a great product on her website that includes the information and beautiful marketing materials she's used to make her "Dog Day's of Summer" a huge success. I highly recommend checking it out.


Dane Sanders, who is always an inspiration and breath of fresh air, did a program on "Branding a Photography Business". This is probably one of the most important things you can do as a new, or experienced photography studio. Position yourself properly - so that you are true to your vision and it's clear to your target audience, and you've paved a great road to success. Dane wrote an essential book, Fast Track Photographer, which I own and love. 


Scott Robert Lim, a talented and stylistic photographer, did a program called "The Art of Becoming an Elite Wedding Photographer". I haven't had the pleasure of seeing one of Scott's programs, but I've heard they are great. As I was walking past Scott's table at lunch time, I noticed he had a crowd gathered to see his latest gadget, a wireless off-camera flash trigger set. I got one too and I'll put it to the test and let you know how it works. It looks very simple and useful. Check it out if you are interested.


Jen & Steve Bebb were also at IE for the first time and they shared a program called, "Wedding Photography in a Modern World". I know they pack a lot of information into their programs and they also share information on their video fusion style which is very trendy right now. I'd love to sit in on one of their programs someday too!


There was so much going on at IE that it's hard to inhale it all. Don MacGregor, who facilitates the school, does a fantastic job of mixing fun, education, and a wonderfully memorable experience. One aspect that everyone at the school seemed to enjoy was the "Super Shoot" evening where IE arranged for a plethora of cool old cars, exotic custom choppers, lovely models, and photogenic settings for everyone to wander through, shoot, learn, and enjoy. 


Earlier in the week, I took my class out and we did an engagement session and talked about the effective use of natural light, using artificial light and making it look natural, and easy, romantic posing. Here are some sample images from that shoot:



We also did a "Soak the Dress" shoot down at the local lake! Our model was wonderfully energetic and enthusiastic - despite having to hurl herself in to a cold body of water. During our conversations with Saskia on the shoot, she used some ballet terms, which one of my students noticed, and she asked her to try a ballet like jump through the air, thinking she may be a ballerina (I admit I have no idea what that term is :-) That was a great observation and one of the things I talk about in my class - interview your subjects to find out what they love to do as this could lead to great, personalized, ideas for your shoot!


Saskia did some amazing leaps and bounds which made for even more lovely images - that also better suited her personality. Most of these images were post processed in Lightroom and in Photoshop using my Dashboard Actions and our new Bortex (Borders & Textures) tools.









For these two images, I placed a ladder on the edge of the dock (had someone hold it tightly!) and got up high enough to get the full length images. Only natural existing light was used as our reflectors would blow away and one of the lighting tools we wanted to use actually blew off the dock and into the water! We wrangled local sunbathing kids to dive down and find the pieces for us).


I used a 12-24mm f4 lens on my Nikon D300s. The wildflowers were picked along the road on the way to the lake ;-)