LA Workshop Recap

I’ve been sharing some previews of the shenanigans we got up to at my recent workshop at the Dream Factory in Los Angeles, but it takes a few days for it to really sink in, especially when you’re digging yourself out of two feet of snow in the nearby mountains. California, you so crazy.

The theme of my workshop — “WWMcGD?” — really comes back to the central theme of my life, which is managing thinly veiled chaos. If you simply want to get the best images possible in a portfolio, it’s usually good to carefully plan, be insanely meticulous, or just keep pushing the envelope that you fail spectacularly again and again until you succeed. But shooting for clients, especially as a wedding photographer, robs us of most of those tools. We find ourselves shooting portraits outside at noon on the summer solstice (Yes, I’ve been there); we sometimes are forced into terrible shooting locations, including a surprising amount of photos taken in parking lots, and you simply can’t afford to suck.

I just want to thank everyone for coming, again, despite short notice and a limited announcement (only on this blog). There’s something beyond my comprehension about someone coming from Norway just to see me prattle on … and finding out that he’s a relative local next to the guy that flew in from Australia.

I said I wanted this to be the best workshop ever, and I think it was. I loved the intimate feel of the smaller attendance cap, and will be doing that on all future full-day-plus workshops. I feel like I got to know everyone there, and could make sure everyone had hands-on time. I tell attendees that I’m happiest when people can take the things I’m showing and come up with things that surprise me, and in the free-shooting they did just that, knocking out some spectacular images. Thank you guys!

It’s picture time. A lot more went on than I have pictured here.

On Friday night, we studied night-time and darkness-related portrait techniques with Cameron:

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On Saturday, I showed some of the applications and techniques of mixing continuous light and flash, as well as color temperatures of the lights. I was happy to be joined again by frequent model and friend Stephanie:

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We went over some handy “work a hotel room” tips, such as some ways to modify window light to increase control, contrast, and make it generally more interesting:

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Then we headed over to the most boring place I could possibly find in an otherwise fascinating location — a plain white corner too dirty and cluttered to do simple high key. What to do? Without Photoshop, I can’t make the spot look nice, but with the right subject and lighting, I can hopefully make you not care:

Before and after, then a flash composite.

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I took everyone through how I would conduct an entire portrait session if I only had five minutes, trying to get as much variety as possible. I capped it with a “Brenizer method” bokeh pano, using the clutter on purpose to keep a sense of scale:

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During some free shooting, I took Karen and Kamil to our mock hotel room, and the attendees set up some great scenarios building on what I’d done there with Stephanie.

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The real fun happened when we went on the roof. A free tip: If you’re going to do something that might get you in trouble during a shoot, do it last.

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Thanks so much again, to everyone who helped out and to the attendees. Without you, I’d have to post a bunch of pictures of an empty room.

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(Only one light source used for this picture, even though it appears in the photo twice).

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Ryan Brenizer

I take pictures.

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