I have been teaching for Aperture Academy for 3 years and I have met some truly AMAZING photographers, we like to be called artists, too. All with different stories, different jobs, different cameras, and all with their own ‘eye’ . I have had the pleasure of being a part of the growing process of both my students as well as the Aperture Academy itself. Being an instructor in the field is rewarding because I can help with composition and technical settings on the camera, but I wanted to be a part of the aftermath! I came of with the idea of a hybrid workshop- half shooting and half production- in hopes to help with the editing and art form that goes in to portrait photography.
This Natural Light Portrait and Processing class took place on a Sunday, and it was perfectly sunny and bright. Some would say that hazy days are better for portraiture, but that is why we have invented light reflectors and diffusers to manipulate what we can not change, With a cap of 6 students for this class, and 3 registered I had an intimate group which allowed each student to have their own model. After introductions, which gives me a good idea of where each person is coming from photographically, I shared some sample shots from previous workshops and we were on our way to starting our photography session.
I have set the class up to simulate an actual photo-session. After giving out my go to settings for portrait photography, I went over my suggested shot list to ensure that there would be a variety of shots obtained throughout the morning. I always try to put my subjects or models in to many different poses and backgrounds giving them more options to chose from, and hopefully encouraging my clients to purchase more files or prints! We were lucky to have 3 models, Rusty, Kris and Natalie. Rusty and Kris being twin brothers, and Natalie and Kris being a couple- it allowed me to dive in to shooting couples and touch on shooting more than 3 people! I brought the group around to show them my favorite spots around the yard. In the front of the property, I asked Natalie to pedal towards us in the street, swerving back and forth, so we could practice continuos shooting with the AI SERVO setting (for tracking focus) AND spot metering. Spot metering comes in handy when one is trying to expose for a portrait in extra bright conditions- such as a day at the beach or in the snow!
Because of this smaller intimate group, we had time to allow each photographer shoot with their own model on their own, practicing some of the key words to help subjects stay calm as well as pick out their own backgrounds. The end of the first session was near, and I gathered everyone for the DOF test I like everyone to preform to test the focal range of their favorite lens they shot with that day. With memory cards full and lots of files to chose from, we all took a lunch break and made our way back to the Aperture Academy Gallery to start the lesson on workflow and production!
The gallery has 10 Mac computers available stations available with Adobe programs, Photoshop and Lightroom. Favoring Lightroom because of it’s all inclusiveness- we downloaded the files from memory to hard drives and began the selection process. I touched on the importance of organized file handling and tagging selected files. Sharing my selection process, each students went through hundreds of photographs, staring their favorites to edit and hopefully add to their portfolios.
After selecting and dwindling down to the top 24-36 images from their shoot that morning, I showed the class the difference between retouching head shots from retouching a more stylized shot, or more journalistic shot. Encouraging each student to explore the program farther than what I had taught by toggling unknown sliders and stamping Lightroom’s presets, I liked what I was seeing on the computer screens! Each person had selected their favorite portrait to print, and I went over the exporting of files for print ready as well as web ready version! I was able to make an 8x10 print for each photographer, as I try to make the workshop all inclusive as well- from shoot to print and everything in between. We took a quick group shot together inside of the gallery with prints and happy faces! I always like to encourage students to keep their cameras out of the box and continue shooting that day or the next to help retain what knowledge they learned in the workshop! All together, in it’s intimateness, the day was long and successful.
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