Last week I had the chance to follow the workshop ‘advanced speedlight techniques’ with Bert Stephani, contemporary portrait and fashion photographer from Steenokkerzeel, near Brussels.
There were three participants, of the four spots available. We had some coffee to start with, typically Bert I guess. 😉
Bert is easy going, cool, relax and above all, willing to share his experience. We had an interesting day, full of practical tricks and tips.
Some of the lessons learnt:
• When setting up a light situation, use your hand as a stand in for your model. It’s freely available, and never bored with your tweaking lights over and over again. In the meantime, your model can freshen up or relax a while.
• When setting up a combined available/flash light setting, first expose for the available light, then the flash, and last but not least, take pictures.
• When taking pictures with a model, encourage your model, talk it trough the shoot, give clear posing instructions, … introduce mini-breaks from time to time to make your model relax, and to offer yourself some time to think about new ideas. Don’t break the posing flow or the contact between yourself and your model by looking at the results. When your light setup has been setup well, all images should be fine afterwards.
• Be relaxed and confident as a photographer. Whatever your mental status is, it reflects on your subject and in your images.
• Work your light situation in function of the story you want to tell.
• Don’t give workshop instructions and bake sandwiches at the same time. (first bakery products got carbonized)
Some of the strong points of the workshop:
• Bert has a large studio space – the barn – , offering plenty of possibilities, different light situations, props, …
• We could freely ask for personal advice on challenging projects and thus influence on the content of the workshop.
• The atmosphere is cool and informal
Some of the weak points of the workshop: Sorry Bert if this bothers you, I feel like I need to be complete for my readers.
• The workshop seemed not prepared and rather un-structured and slow-paced. I don’t know if this is typical for Bert’s workshops, or just on this particular occasion.
• Workshop was marketed ‘including teaching, model fee and bread lunch’, the teaching was there, the bread lunch too, but there was no model, so participants had to stand in as a model for the other participants. I have no problem with modeling as such, but it limits your ‘photography time’ during the day, and on our last ‘assignment’ only one person could be the photographer, so neither me nor the third participant had images from this setup. As a participant I felt I had not the same level of ‘hands on experience’ during the teaching, when I was acting as a subject.
some images taken during the workshop: