A word to the wise. If you have a chance to go to a photo seminar or workshop by Bob Davis, by all means go. You will learn and you will be inspired.
He is a first class wedding and portrait photographer (plus some other photo pursuits) and a Canon “Explorer of Light”. Clients fly him all around the world to photograph their weddings.
John (a photographer friend) and I went to an evening seminar that Bob Davis did at Columbus College of Art and Design. I don’t plan on becoming a wedding photographer (I only do weddings for a few good friends), but I did go to learn (which I did) and to be inspired (which I was), and to pick up presentation techniques and ideas for my own photography workshops (which I did).
As part of the seminar Bob took us through a brief portrait shoot. In this iPhone snapshot (which is way more contrasty than the original scene), Bob is on stage working with a volunteer and demonstrating different types of portrait lighting and light modifiers. With each click of the shutter his photos popped up on the big screen behind him. As we watched him work, he explained what he was doing each step along the way, and why. We could see the results in real time and see how each change made a difference in the image. (Yes, he did move out of the way so we could see the images, and he moved his light stands out of the way so we could see the final image.)
Bob lit the whole auditorium with three radio-controlled Canon speedlites, two in the front and one in the back, forming a large triangle of light. With just those three speedlights he could photograph anyone in the auditorium from anywhere in the auditorium, and he controlled the speedlights from his camera without needing to run around the room to each speedlight. He showed us how to do that, what gear he uses, and how that applies to photographing receptions, weddings, and other events in a large room. He took a number of photos of people around the room and each photo popped up on the big screen (a very nifty idea for a photo seminar). I’ve been to a lot of seminars and no one has done that before (probably because I mostly go to landscape and wildlife seminars). In fact, he took a photo of John and I so we saw ourselves on the big screen. That was fun (and I usually avoid being in front of a camera).
He also showed us how he uses speedlites outside (90% of his work is with speedlites), giving him control of the light as he mixes flash with ambient light. The results are stunning. If you aren’t sold on using speedlites outside before you go to one of his workshops, you will be afterwards. I am assuming you are already sold on using speedlites inside (and hopefully off camera).
John and I took a lot of notes and snapshots of the big screen as visual reminders. It will be a good way to refresh our memories. We had a great time.
The list of photographers whose workshops I recommend is very short. Bob Davis is on that list.
Environmental Portraits and Two Off-Camera Flashes (part 3 of a series on off-camera flash)