I had the pleasure of meeting Lindsay Adler on Tuesday at the Adorama Loving Lighting on Location Workshop sponsored by Sigma. This was only the 2nd photography workshop I’ve ever attended, I’m trying to stretch myself as a photographer. My purpose for taking these workshops was not so much to learn the technical side of photography (although I did pick up a few useful techniques I will certainly be able to apply to my work right away), but more so to see what makes these pro photographers special. In a day and age where 3 out of 5 people you know are jumping into the world of photography and attempting to make careers out of it, I am more curious as to why they have been able to stand out from the crowds. How do they interact with their subjects and what’s their mental process, how do they take what is common knowledge to any photographer and combine different elements, techniques, and personality to make it their own style of work. What makes them “hireable? That’s what I’m most interested in gaining more insight on.
What I enjoyed most about the workshop was seeing Lindsay’s direct and work during the photowalk to the Madison Ave Park on 23rd street. She has such a simple approach to her shooting. No 9 speedlight setups along with a 150″ octos and a ringlight for kicker on this day….wait, I’m actually intrigued to see what that shoot might look like! :). No but seriously, it’s just refreshing to be reminded that sometimes simplicity can work best for a particular shoot. I used to do all location based shoots and as of late been doing all studio shoots but after this, I look forward to shooting on location more and applying what I’ve learned here.
The gear I used
I went against the grain on this one and shot 100% film. I only took my Mamiya 645 AFD, the 80mm f2.8 and 150mm f3.5, although the 80mm never came off the camera. I shot only 32 photos during the whole workshop (Two Kodak 400 TX B&W- 120 film rolls). I also had the polaroid back ready to go, but decided in midst of the photowalk portion it would slow me way down to attempt to use it in this scenario. Luckily i have 2 film backs so they were preloaded and all i had to do is swap backs once the first roll was done…30 secs later i was ready to go with the next roll.
What I learned
Slowing down isn’t a bad thing. In a day an age of digital it’s easy to overshoot, just snap away all day long. Now don’t get me wrong, we ALL do this at certain times, most of the time cause it’s necessary for the moment. But there are times we can just get carried away.
Being limited to only 32 shots really forces you to PAY ATTENTION to EVERYTHING. Is my composition absolutely right, how about lighting? Is the models pose and expression what I want? Now of course this is easier said than done, as it only takes a fraction of a sec for a model to blink…and without an instant feedback of a digital LCD…well you gotta get good at counting blinks (wait till they blink and THEN snap, you can’t just wing it).
Mistakes I made
Habits are hard to break at times…and it may have cost me some great photos if it doesn’t work out. I shoot full manual mode, I do this because I truly have full control of how I want photos to come out. However Lindsay mentioned during her presentation that she shot Aperture Priority the majority of the time, so I figured hey it should “speed up” my process to capture photographs. First set of shots didn’t touch the setting, and then it happened. She mentioned for a particular shot she likes to overexpose the shot by a stop (I love to do this with female subjects too), problem since I’ve only had the Mamiya for 8 days nows, I’m not familiar on how to use the exposure compensation on that body yet. So after fumbling for 3-4 secs, I just switched over to M mode and dialed down the shutter speed to over expose the shot. Okay not bad, but here is the problem. I forgot to switch over BACK to A mode. So for the next series of shots, I’m shooting away while subconsciously I’m thinking the camera is setting the shutter speed for me…unfortunately it wasn’t it was set to 2.8 350/sec for about the last 10 frames. I only realize this when I finished the roll and was putting the camera away. This absolutely sucks cause there were some amazing shots I know I captured, but depending on how differently the amount of light was in those shots could determine if some are salvageable or not.
So am I going to get a ton of white photographs? Time will tell. I just popped my two rolls in the mail to The Darkroom (my film development company). In a few days the verdict will come in. I’ll be posting up those shots and doing a follow up post on it.