Building on the basics
The Basic Photography Workshop Part 2 is ultimately designed to move people away from snap shot photography.
If you were to ask any photographer (certainly the ones I have met), we'd all confess to a degree we are all still pointing, shooting and hoping for the best BUT by having the setting on the camera switched to manual we have complete control and potential to capture what we see and therefore translate in to a still image.
Armed with the basics and a whole lot of practise, eventually we find ourselves fumbling about less.
Why attend a workshop?
By attending just two workshops your photography is guaranteed to become more interesting (if only to you and I) and overall the experience and results will be far more satisfying.
So that's the sales pitch out the way, read on to see what happened on the last one.
When I first shot at Penn Street works in March of this year I knew it would without a doubt prove to be the most perfect location to run a creative workshop (thanks to a like minded artist friend of mine).
Located in Amersham the surrounding area is not only picturesque but Penn Street works is just one of many units on an industrial estate that offers various interesting backdrops, textures and colours to work with, not least full of vintage cars, a paint room and an extremely accommodating owner OH and a very pretty church just up the road.. (well spotted Steve).
The title for the workshop on this occasion was "Day in the life of a runaway bride".
At the beginning of the workshop I asked everyone to try and achieve a collection of images that when put together at the end of the day, would tell a story.
Having focused mainly on portraits during workshop Part 1, it was time to widen the lens and focus more on composition in order to achieve these more 'story telling' images.
A few top tips
Throughout both workshops everyone is encouraged to change their perspective.
Meet Will, he changes his perspective ALL the time. Will is in his first year of professional videography and I met him in my local town where he is regularly found jumping across buildings, swinging off trees and back flipping… yes that IS TRUE. We have since shot a couple of weddings together and he has kindly made a little promo video for me (see bottom of the page - no not now, finish reading these first!)
Will is also free-runner (you should have seen his face when I offered him a step ladder, he made me feel like an over protective Mother!) Anyway, Will has lead me my first top tip.
1: Be more like Will. Change your perspective.
Get above/below your subjects, shoot from the floor (aka a worms eye view), the side and don't apologise for being there. If you're going in for a close portrait GET IN THERE (or in Will's case UP there)...
One of the most common questions I am asked on workshop part 1 is "how do you get blurry backgrounds?"
Now on standard lenses (the one that usually comes with your camera is an 18-55mm) this is not so easy. BUT there are ways around it, we can shoot through objects, use surfaces and foliage and get a similar effect but the other way round and this can work very nicely.
This next shot was set up by Sue who showed in part 1 a great eye for composition leading us on to the next top tip.
2. Be more like Sue and have a go at shooting through
3. Find your backgrounds first
Simply making more conscious decisions about your background can have a huge impact on your image. Like this shutter. The colours, the textures.. it's all there. Just about anyone and everyone would look good in front of it. Katy's shot of all three girls here just proves my point. Simple.
If we analyse any photographs that we love, we will find it all comes down to the same things… composition, subject and LIGHT. Light is SO important. Often people pray for sun on their wedding day (and of course it is favourable over torrential rain) but from our point of view bright blazing sunshine is NOT necessarily our friend… so don't moan about it! LOVE light but use it to your advantage.
4. Be more like Steve. Find some shade or a place where light is being filtered somehow. In this shot Steve moved Nicola out of the sun but still made good use of it with his big shiny reflector.. and VERY simply and quickly he has created an atmosphere… Nice one Steve.
Photos b Steve Morris and Abbie Trefry
5. GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR SUBJECT
Ordinarily (especially on the part 1 workshop) we work with one model at a time but I have found that in order to draw out your own ideas and engage with your subject this is a time to focus just on what you are seeing and feeling.
These workshops are designed to help you grow in confidence and therefore being able to give your model direction is important.
It's all simple stuff but a lot to think about in one single moment isn't it? I am proud to say that each and everyone of the eight photographers that attended this workshop achieved all of the above at some point during the day and left with at least a few great shots that they should be very happy with. I know I did.
So I believe ANYONE who has an SLR camera who is stuck on AUTO mode should attend at least workshop part 1. I am not a technical geek (although sometimes I wish I was) I am more of a creative, arty farty type who is at her happiest when taking photos and I know there are plenty of you out there who share my passion for photography. It's addictive, it's rewarding and we are all on a journey of continual learning.
And you don't have to take my word for it, I asked photographers from previous workshops for feedback on the days they have attended and to offer up any of their own tips. Here's their thoughts..
"Changing the focus point, has really helped me make my photos stand out from ones taken previously. Before the workshop I never considered anything other than standing or sitting."
Tips for attending ... "Attend! Don't put it off and be prepared to practise a lot after".
Alison Clark Photography workshops 2015
"During the worshop you are made to feel normal and not silly for asking questions. I left the day with a sense of achievement and new knowledge. I met like minded enthusiastic folk and felt inspired to stretch my technical abilities and apply them to my own wedding photography. The course made me feel confident, Kelly is encouraging and talks on your level."
Kelly Bloss workshops 2014
"I initially attended Kelly's workshop so that I could learn to use my camera manually and not just rely on using the automatic setting. Since attending, I've never switched back to automatic and have attended several workshops since. It really gets you thinking about each picture you take in a new light. Highly recommended!"
Tamsin Weston 2015/16
"Because the workshops are all about hands on and learning through experimenting, my tip is to relax and enjoy. Learning the camera for the first time is like driving for the first time. You think you will never get the hang of the gears, signal, mirror & manoeuvre... But just like driving, if you practice, the technical aspects will become second nature".
Susan Griffiths workshop 2016
THANK YOU to Emma, Nicola, and Eli for being cold all day and not complaining. Rob for the use of his workshop and to everyone who attended and made it fun and of course Will Fraser-Coombe for another awesome video... check his work out and next time you're in Staines, watch out for a flying videographer!