Tag Archives: lighting

A Lovely Workshop 2012

27 Apr

If you love film, or beautiful, whimsical images, you’ve likely heard of Elizabeth Messina or her super sweet blog, Kiss the Groom. Her work is ethereal, adorned with lovely light and has a truly distinctive, feminine flair. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak at WPPI, and her personality, kindness and down-to-earth nature match her work to a “t”.

Elizabeth just recently announced that registration for her “A Lovely Workshop” is open – and it’s coming to the East Coast, right in our backyard actually! The 800-acre farm is just outside of Philadelphia, where “we will explore the country side & the many acres of the beautiful farm, home to 100’s of horses.” The three-day event is being held on July 10-12th, with a welcome gathering on the 9th, and includes a long list of impressive collaborators, including Abby Larson of Style Me Pretty, Leah MacDonald of Waxworks (who you may remember from our meeting in 2011!), Shira Savada of Martha Stewart Weddings, Claire Pettibone of Twigs & Honey, Adrienne Page of Velvet Raptor and Wiley Valentine.

Shoots are scheduled each day where Elizabeth will educate and inspire attendees on light, branding, marketing and getting published, connecting with your clients, booking destination weddings, expanding your business and much more. There’s also tons of goodies, including a signed copy of her new book, The Luminous Portrait.

Check out the website for details, investment and specifics. And if you’re interested, don’t wait! Registration is limited to 20 students!


Portraits and Making Your Subjects at Ease

15 Sep

Anyone who’s every shot a portrait – professional or novice – knows that a comfortable subject makes for much more natural photos. Putting people at ease takes practice and good people skills (a sense of humor doesn’t hurt either!). Add on top of that getting inspired, capturing the style or type of shots they have in mind, working with the light and environment around you… there’s a lot to juggle. Here are a few starters to help get them – and you – relaxed and ready to capture some magical moments:

1. Set it Up

Talk to your clients before the session. Get to know them. Make decisions together about locations they like and even the style of images that gets them excited. Offer ideas about what to wear. Emphasize choosing clothes and accessories that show off their individual personality – and make them feel like a million bucks.

2. Be Prepared

It’s a no brainer, but still the most important part of the session. Know your gear well, think about the session in advance, have a plan for poses and settings that will make for great shots. A good photographer is constantly learning and growing. Never let your skills get stale!

3. Sweat the Details

Get your gear in order. Lenses cleaned, batteries charged, cards formatted, reflectors and props packed (and whatever else you’ve got in mind for the shoot). You’ll be like a well-oiled machine with nothing incidental to distract you.

4. Relax and Have Fun

When you’re feeling good and exuding confidence, your clients will sense it and know they can trust you, your skills and your creativity. If you’re feeling a bit nervous in advance (which is totally normal!) set the mood on your way there with a song that gets you positive and pumped!

5. Start the conversation

Get to know them. Ask questions and learn about what makes them tick. Take any great trips lately? What’s your favorite restaurant? How about them Phillies? Most importantly, be yourself. Get to know them like you would at a party – not like it’s an interview. Great conversation can help their mind wander, get them to relax and even lead to some fun expressions!

6. Give them a Sneak Peek

Being in front of the lens when you’re camera shy can make you feel vulnerable. When I start a portrait session and notice any anxiety, hesitation or awkwardness, I’ll often show the couple (or kids or family) a frame or two on the back of my camera to get them excited and show them how great they look.

7. Master your Poker Face

If you’re not in love with a shot – the composition, lighting, expression, anything – don’t give it away. Keep smiling. Set the tone. Adjust, move, give direction; do whatever you need to in order improve the shot – but don’t let it stress you out. Stay fluid and keep shooting. That amazing shot could be your next one!

8. Be intuitive

– Don’t get so wrapped up in the aperture, light, composition or lens choice that you aren’t in tune to your subject and their expression, body language or comfort level.

– If they’re shy or hands-off, don’t get in their personal space. Instead provide clear direction and helpful tips. Show them with your own body, what you have in mind. If there’s a stray hair out of place, or a strap or tag showing, be polite and ask permission to adjust it, or ask them to fix it themselves.

– Gauge their comfort level and choose poses accordingly. Personally I like to start with something natural and move around my subjects, giving them little tips if needed, and only occasionally. Eventually they start to ignore me, relax and not think so much about what they’re doing, how they are smiling, etc.

9. Share your Enthusiasm

Every photographer I have ever met is absolutely head over heels in love with what they do. You are too, am I right? So while you’re shooting, share your enthusiasm and love for photography! Let your subjects know what amazing light you’re seeing or the fact that you love the bright green wall across the street. It’s contagious and they’ll get excited too!

Do you have great tips or advice on portraits and getting your subjects comfortable? Add a comment and share!

Thursday Morning Pancake Sessions

7 Sep

Source: Pancake Sessions: Video Light and Getting Ready Details Post

Tomorrow after you roll out of bed and grab a warm beverage, head over to Justin & Mary’s website to check out their next Pancake Session post. There’s a fresh one every Thursday, which promises to be interesting and informative, plus they break everything down into bite-size, easy to understand pieces. Best of all, they’re up there on the interweb for posterity, so you can visit right now and learn about everything from Black and White Post Production Tips, Branding, Off Camera Lighting, Destination Wedding Tips and much, much more.

Thank you fellow Photo Betty Susannah Gill for sharing another helpful tip with us!

Review: The WPPI Road Trip

29 Aug

WPPI Road Trip

Who:  WPPI
What:  Road Trip
Where:  Philadelphia
When:  August 22, 2011

Why?  Couldn’t get to Vegas for the largest Portrait and Wedding Photography Convention? Well, WPPI decided to make a Road Trip to select cities bringing speakers and vendors right to your hometown.


– Avoided Philadelphia International Airport – just had to take a train.

– One day commitment only, which meant no need for an overnight stay.

– The same impressive speaker lineup – right in your own backyard

Cons: A Fellow Photo Betty, Amanda Young, and I did not win any of the awesome prizes that were drawn. We think there was a serious conspiracy…


Susan Stripling

I am a big fan of her work. What I appreciated about her opening was the challenge she posed to the audience on never being satisfied. The challenge was to always challenge yourself. This is the competitive edge that will set you apart. She discussed composition techniques and working to search the room, to go beyond the obvious. Her work can be found at www.susanstriplingblog.com

Dawn Shields

Dawn was able to speak about the power of a personal project. She shared her “Legacy” Album, which won the Grand Album award at WPPI in 2010. As photographers, it is important to always be growing creatively. When you can find something that is truly your own project, from beginning to end, the creation in itself is both rewarding and fulfilling. Learn more about Dawn’s work at www.dawnshields.com

Damon Tucci

Very fun and engaging speaker. I loved the image examples shown and discussion of how he used lighting. He focused on the usage of speed lights, video lights and available light to enhance your photos while shooting in the field. Beyond just usage, we discussed how to use these tools to make images more dramatic. He had great examples for posing brides and grooms to relax them, giving them a completely natural appearance. To find out more about Damon, visit his site at www.damontucci.com.

Jared Platt

In just 90 minutes, we were given great solutions to reduce editing workflow by almost 50%. His discussion identified time wasters, and how to effectively eliminate them while focusing on true post-production efficiently. I loved his teaching style and was glad that he can be found on Vimeo with quick sessions, under Jared Platt. A sample is here http://vimeo.com/24735627 and his site is  www.jaredplatt.com.

Lindsay Adler

Lindsay covered the essential concepts of fashion photography and how these can apply to portrait and wedding photography for stunning imagery. She discussed key concepts such as simple location, utilizing unique props, posing, lighting and styling. Quite frankly, I am not sure what my opinion is on the usage of props for shoots, but Lindsey was able to show and demonstrate creative ways to set a scene to make the images vivid and inviting. There were truly some great learnings from this presentation. She will also be speaking at PDN in October on Social Media Marketing, which I think will be something worth attending. You can find out more about Lindsay’s work at www.lindsayadlerphotography.com.

2011 WPPI Road Trip

16 Jun

If you weren’t able to attend WPPI in Las Vegas this year – fear not! The WPPI Road Trip is almost here – and tickets went on sale yesterday! Registration is $159 for the all-day event, and you can bring a guest for just $89. You’ll also receive FREE 2012 WPPI registration (which is a pretty amazing bonus!), lunch and access to the mini tradeshow.

They’ll be hitting 8 cities across the USA including our home base – Philly! Here’s the full list:

• Long Beach, CA – August 8
• San Jose, CA – August 10
• Columbus, OH – August 15
• Chicago, IL – August 17
• Philadelphia, PA – August 22
• Boston, MA – August 25
• Austin, TX – September 19
• New Orleans, LA – September 22

Right now the full list of events and classes hasn’t been posted, but we do know that it will be “jam-packed with informative and inspiring topics covering the ins and outs of photography, especially tailored for professional wedding and portrait photographers.”

Attendees will have access to a full day of educational classes featuring marketing, lighting, posing, shooting and postproduction. It’ll also be a great place for networking… Sponsors include Adobe, WHCC, Zenfolio, Adorama, Pictage, Black River Imaging, GraphiStudio, Simply Canvas, Animoto and more!

Take a break this summer and get inspired!

Check Out Skip’s Summer School

31 Mar

By Heather O’Mara

Last March I woefully knew I had missed the bus on WPPI. Come May, I needed something that offered great speakers and resources at my fingertips. Something where I could get a jumpstart and find out what I was really doing right, or really doing wrong.

Then it happened – I got an email about “summer school” – Skips’ Summer School – being held in August in Las Vegas. The description, covering a wide range of photography topics such as weddings, portraiture, portfolio creation, lighting, business tips and more, was completely appealing. It was exactly was I was looking for and so much more. At the time, I did not realize the positive impact it would have on my creativity, my business and future planning.

When I returned, my head was spinning. It was very intense; back-to-back presentations beginning at 8am and concluding at 5pm. In fact, Tuesday, we came back from 6am to 8pm. Yes, intense.

So what was it that I found so uplifting, so life changing, that made me a better Heather O’Mara? Okay, maybe that’s laying it on a little thick. But here are a few highlights from some names you may recognize…

Dane Sanders

He opened it up at 8:00am – easy for east coasters. Touching on so many things, giving us a glimpse of himself and how he launched his business. He identified with so many of us in the audience, reviewing blogs for inspiration and reading additional education pieces to hone our skills. He also mentioned those late nights, when we are reading other photographers blogs with our glass off wine thinking “These people are so darn good, my images stink.” His advice? Stop, stop, stop!

Kevin Kubota

Loved him. He had such a warm, approachable energy. What struck me was how he shared his personal self-doubt (what?!) about the quality of his work. One day he said to himself, if these people can be published in a magazine with their work, “Why not me?” This is a question we need to ask ourselves. He also delivered us homework, projects that I still continue to work on, because they are not easy.

Joe Buissink

I do not know where to start with how wonderful I thought his presentation was. He spoke from to heart. For a man that has photographed the weddings of Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez and Jennie Garth – and so beautifully – he is modest. What struck me most was how he described his thought process during a wedding, which paralleled mine. Now granted, I am NO Buissink, but hey, it did make we want to buy his book. Additionally, he also added approaches to fine-tune ways to get your couples to emote.

Cliff Mautner

I loved hearing his discussion on light. Not just on shooting, but his differing observations on television as well. After bringing up the topic of Lighting used in “Mad Men,” I was hooked. As he spoke about lighting for weddings, he discussed embracing lighting and not shying away, and I have done this ever since.

Jasmine Star

I will admit it, I was a little skeptical of listening to her speak, but honestly, I am glad I had the opportunity. She had so much to share and I was able to take a great bit away.

There were other great speakers regarding business management, marketing and shooting portraits, a limited collection of outstanding vendors, and a lighting lab – an opportunity between breaks to work with Tony Corbell in hands-on demonstrations with lighting setups. I was also able to meet photographers from all over the country, which was a nice way to make contacts. This experience for me was priceless and I highly recommend it.

Interested in attending? Skip’s Summer School 2011 is set for July 31- August 3, 2011 at the MGM in Las Vegas. There is a great line up of speakers with even more hands-on training this year. So, take the time off this summer and head to the desert. You are worth the investment and your business will thank you!

Here’s a promo to give you a taste:

Skip’s Summer School from Clay Blackmore on Vimeo.

Tech Tuesday: Upcoming Lighting Workshops

8 Mar

By: Nicole Peterson

It’s a dirty 5 letter word amongst many photographers – “Flash”. Some us love it, but more times than not, I hear a lot of photographers cursing it’s very existence.

Fortunately, there’s a series of lighting workshops coming to the area to get you on your way to becoming BFFs with your on- and off-camera flash:

Neil van Niekerk Workshop on Flash Photography and Lighting

Date: May 16, 2011, July 11, 2011, September 12, 2011
Location: NY, NY
Cost: $600

The workshop is part seminar and part hands-on shoot, based on topics and articles from the Tangents website (if any of you are familiar with Neil’s site then you know he is very informative and a master with lighting). Some topics covered are:

+ TTL / Auto flash .. vs .. manual flash
+ Exposure metering for ambient light
+ Implications of flash sync speed
+ Adding fill-flash to available light outdoors
+ Directional bounce flash
+ Flash modifiers – uses & limitations
+ Wireless TTL flash
+ Using video light
+ Off-camera flash with a softbox (manual and TTL)

Cliff Mautner Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp

Date: July 11-13, 2011
Location: in/near Philadelphia, PA
Cost: $1800

Cliff’s workshop will feature:

+ Various technical aspects and a deeper understanding of your gear.
+ A multitude of creative flash techniques.
+ Lighting your subjects from noon to midnight.
+ Live bridal shoots on location in Philadelphia.
+ Individual hands-on instruction during shoots.
+ Techniques in capturing the essence of our clients.

Other topics covered:

+ Client interaction and relationships
+ Sales presentation skills including a mock presentation
+ Building a referral base through vendor/partner relationships
+ Client retention
+ Workflow from capture to proof

Zack Arias One Light Workshop

Date: October 19, 2011
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Cost: $800

Workshop excerpt:

“Are you intimidated or even “afraid” of your flash? As if a Bengal tiger is attached to it? Are you stuck in TTL and dissatisfied with the inconsistency of your flash output while shooting? Do you have some sort of cocktail cup stuck on top because someone said you could replace your softboxes and umbrellas with that thing? This is your kind of workshop then!

We spend a lot of time getting to know how light works and how amazingly consistent it can be from shot to shot to shot to shot. The intimidation of flash photography is going to melt away for you. You will walk away with the confidence and knowledge you need to take control of your shoots. Imagine walking into any environment with a simple lighting rig confident that you will make great portraits you are proud to deliver because you understand light and how to use it.”

Budget-Friendly Alternatives

The FlashBus 2011 Tour

Date: April 6, 2011
Location: Philadelphia, PA (and 28 other cities nationwide)
Cost: $99.95

On a budget and looking to learn the basics? Adorama is sponsoring this national taught by David “The Strobist” Hobby and Joe “Numnuts” McNally, which runs all day and is more of a traditional, group seminar.

Workshop excerpt:

“Two different styles of lighting and two different ways of teaching combine as Hobby and McNally join forces to explore and explain good light – good light done fast and well.

You’ll spend the day studying light as you watch over the shoulders of two experienced professionals. Their paths may be different, but the end goal is the same – to create interesting light that is appropriate to the subject and to do it in an intuitive way. Doors will open at 9:30am, and we’ll hit the ground running at 10am. The morning will be spent in “manual” mode, then we’ll switch to “TTL” for the afternoon lighting session. We’ll wind things up with a living room-style, no-holds-barred discussion/Q&A period (ending around 5:30 p.m.), after which you’ll want to go home and try out some new ideas.”


If you’re looking to learn from the comfort of your own home, check out these lighting tutorials from PhotoTuts’ Top 100 list (submitted by Heather O’Mara):

Photography Lighting Tutorial

Get the Right Light

7 Tips for Great Photos in the Dark

10 DIY Lighting Hacks for Digital Photographers

How to Create Sunshine Effect in Studio with Artificial Sunlight

Professional Lighting in Model Photography

Portable Lighting for the Studio and on Location

WPPI Platform Picks: Lighting & Posing

16 Feb

Light, weather, location, environment, gear, f-Stop, aperture, motion, emotion, gesture, a connection, a spark; there’s an infinite number of variables that go into not just making a great photo, but truly capturing a moment. It’s a delicate balance – and such a rewarding feeling when the stars align.

The thing is, rainstorms, crowds of people, challenging spaces, stress and more, can create extremely challenging circumstances, but that doesn’t mean you can throw in the towel. Some of these things you learn to work with – but there are others – like lighting and posing – where we as photographers do have some control. This post is dedicated to, both literally and figuratively, seeing the light, as well as commanding, creating, capturing and captivating with it!

The speakers in our Lighting and Posing Platform Picks are experienced, visionary photographers who take charge and create amazing work, and will educate and inspire you to be prepared as well!


Clay Blackmore

What? Creating the Portrait
When? February 21, 3:00-5:00 pm
Why? Portraits, posing, lighting and refining, techniques, live demo, create images from the heart, marketing, sales

Michael Grecco

What? Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait
When? February 21, 6:30-8:30 pm
Why? Portraits, techniques for creating light and shadow, stylistic and dramatic images, specialty lighting, live demo, Q&A

Michael Grecco | http://michaelgrecco.com


Louis Pang

What? Guerilla Lighting: Fast and Furious
When? February 22, 8:00-10:00 am
Why? Managing light, achieving great results regardless of adverse lighting conditions, TTL speedlights, modifiers and color gels

Nancy Emmerich & Rose Coleman

What? Bringing Sexy Back to the Studio
When? February 22, 11:00 am -1:00 pm
Why? Portraits, high school seniors, workflow, pricing, creativity

Nancy Emmerich | http://studioartblog.com

Roberto Valenzuela

What? Break It Down!
When? February 22, 3:00-5:00 pm
Why? Finding opportunity in challenging situations, creative ideas for posing and locations based on colors, geometric shapes, balance, angles, symmetry and more

Roberto Valenzuela | hwww.robertovalenzuelaphotography.com

Bambi Cantrell

What? Focus on Fabulous—Weddings
When? February 22, 3:30-5:30 pm
Why? Lighting, posing, fashion, drama, creating captivating images quickly

Mike Fulton & Cody Clinton

What? Wireless Flash Tips and Tricks
When? February 22, 6:30-8:30 pm
Why? Wireless flash and video lighting techniques, studio lighting anywhere anytime, simple techniques

Mike Fulton & Cody Clinton | http://www.tricoastphoto.com


David & Quin Cheung

What? Guerrilla Lighting for the Real World
When? February 24, 9:00-11:00 am
Why? Off-camera and dramatic lighting, minimal gear, working with success with tight timelines and stress

David & Quin Cheung | http://www.dqstudios.com

Don’t forget, these classes are included with your WPPI registration, and you can secure a seat for up to five classes in advance with Preboard to avoid long lines and waiting.