Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Photograph Everyone

Last night I attended a seminar given by the incredibly talented Clay Blackmore.  Walking in early and hearing "Funkytown" streaming from his iTunes playlist, I could tell it was going to be an upbeat and fun evening.  Backdrops were set up in the back two corners of the room, and spotlights, flashes and reflectors on stands dotted the floor all around them.  As I waited for the class to begin, I took in his beautiful photos lining one of the walls of windows.  Wedding photos, portraits, a camera ad with Anna Kournikova...everything just breathtaking.  I felt so out of my league (well, because I was) but was so excited for what I would learn.

I sat in the front row, not wanting to miss a beat, and scribbled my notes furiously as he spoke with speed and passion.  How to photograph to pose them and light them, then lift and refine them.  After a series of slides and explanations on how some of his photos were taken and post processed, he then had live model shoots to further drive home his techniques and methods.  Clay often shot in Live View with a feed to the projector screen so the class could see and understand what he was seeing and composing.  Basic pose.  Feminine pose.  High shoulder.  Spider lights.  Asking his assistants to move lights and flashes here and there.  All about making people look their best and using the right lighting to accomplish it.  Butterflies flitted in my stomach as he called on me as an example.  He said I have a round face (immediately making me regret the McDonald's value meal I had grabbed on my way to the seminar) and that I probably don't like photos where I'm facing the camera.  I most definitely nodded and agreed with his assessment.  He said I probably really like profile photos of myself...again, dead on (the chubby cheeks magically disappear, woohoo!).  Certain face shapes just photograph better at certain angles, and the faster you pick up on that, the faster you know how to pose that person. 

We had a short break (really, I could have gone all the way through and way into the wee hours of the morning, I was that mesmerized), and then after the break a couple of slideshows and some more live model shoots.  He wrapped up and ended the class, but asked the models to stay a little longer so he could snap a few more photos for their portfolios.  I asked if he minded if I stayed and watched him work.  "Not at all," he responded, and I was thankful for any extra time to learn more.  I looked on as Clay gave direction and the models struck their poses, each beautiful girl loving the camera and the camera loving them back.  After the last girl had finished, Clay turned to me and asked if I wanted a couple of photos.  My brain shouted "Ohmygosh areyoukiddingme? No way!" out of nervousness, but my lips formed the words, "Sure, why not!" out of the excitement of having my picture taken by such a talented photographer.  So I stood against the backdrop, lights pointing towards me, knowing I did not have the grace and form of the figures that stood there before me.  Feeling a bit awkward and a little dissheveled in appearance after a late night, I turned and moved as Clay directed and snapped a couple of shots.  And even though the camera may not have loved me, I still loved the camera......the back side of it, that is!

Here is the Explorer of Light working his magic!

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  1. very very cool! how exciting and nerve racking for you at the same time! so glad you got to do that though! see you next month!

  2. I am in a constant struggle with learning lighting. It can be so beautiful and yet so frustrating sometimes--LOL! This looks like a great opportunity & seminar! See you at the j* workshop!


  3. That is awesome!!! I have been wanting to learn more about off camera lighting, etc. What an awesome experience! Excited to meet you next month!

  4. Lighting is definitely great when you get it right and frustrating when you get it wrong! Can't wait to meet you girls next month!!


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