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Written by Instructor Alicia Telfer
The Natural Light portrait workshop is one of my favorites to teach! On this beautiful Saturday, there were two sessions, one taking advantage of morning light, and the afternoon session giving us the ideal, warm sunset light. It is the perfect jump start workshop, as it is only a sweet few hours, and is held locally in the Pruneyard shopping center.
As always, we start with introductions- it’s nice for the instructors to have an idea of where everyone is coming from photographically & to give everyone a chance to show off their gear! Ellie started he sessions off with a quick review on basic camera function, and some portraits we had taken in previous workshops! In the past, I have had students ask me if we were really taking portraits in the shopping center... I think sharing the sample shots we have taken really help the students get an idea of what to look forward to during the hands on portion!
We work with a handful of beautiful models! On this perfect day, we were all lucky to have our very own, TylerFawn, gallery specialist for Aperture Academy. I had the pleasure of meeting and befriending the beautiful Fallon, who was excited and eager to be a part of the day! Both of these lovely lady’s have a unique and fantastic style, which adds to the dynamic of this workshop by giving everyone multiple chances to get a variety of shots.
The lighting in both sessions was crisp and bright. Making our way through the shopping center- Ellie and I each take a model and set them up against reflective windows and varied architecture. The landscaping staff does an immaculate job at keeping everything nice tidy and well kept! I strive to find new shots each workshop by utilizing all of the different plants and flowers; while pointing out how to place and pose each model to best fit in with the landscape. As always, I am paying attention to the direction of light as well as my positioning, and pointing out different things I notice. Sometimes moving just an inch or two can make a improvement to your subjects background. I also like to point out more flattering angles for the models face as well, I have found people tend to look better when shooting them at a downward angle.
In the AM session we headed towards the old book store, which has a fantastic walkway with papered windows on one side, and sage colored supports holding up the rafters above. The light shooting through created diagonal and excited light that shot through the back ground of the students images! Everyone was getting superb images! To achieve the same shot in our afternoon session we headed to the entrance of the Pruneyard Hotel & on the way there is a walk way with the same colored supports along with an ochre colored walls which reflect a warming tone on to Fallon’s face. When shooting down a hallway or walkway with space or windows on one side, it is important to be mindful of what you can see coming through those spaces. On both sites that I described above, if you aren’t careful, shopper’s cars are easily visible and were distractions in our images.
As our group of giddy photographers walked thought the courtyard in the center, I lighted covered posing larger groups, as well as couples and smaller groups. Tall people in the center or on the edges, symmetry & asymmetry in group portraits!
We save the group shop for the end during the NL workshop so we don’t lose momentum or creative flow! I like to stack everyone up on stair cases for the group shots and use the telephoto lens to create a compressed shot! On this portrait photography packed day, every student left with memory cards full of beautiful portraits and a lot of new information to practice with! I always to to encourage my students to continue shooting thought the weekend with the new tricks they have learned, and to send Ellie and I the photos that captured! We love getting emails with our students work, whether they want to show it off or if they are looking for some constructive criticism... send ‘em our way!
Until next time, thanks to all who attended, and our great models. On behalf of myself (Alicia), Ellie and the rest of the ApCad crew, thank you for another great workshop!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.