At the workshop, appropriately named "Cutting Edge Lighting Techniques" Michael would present a technique, we would practice in real world conditions and then he would critique our work. The delivery was familiar, as that is how I run my own photography classes at Siena. However, it was high pressure (or at least I put pressure on myself), the class was filled with working professionals and each day we all felt a bit in over our heads. But the opportunity was priceless and would not have wanted it any other way.
I have been a working professional photographer, both full and part-time, for fifteen years and have taught in and out of school for much of that time. I have a sound base in photography and have studied the craft. Yet I learned, how little I know. Working and learning from the world's best was eye opening and reinvigorating for how I want to approach my future photographic endeavors. The experience will greatly impact how I am able to teach going forward and enrich my students with cutting edge techniques that few photographers are actively using.
Below are images and concepts that were covered during the workshop. The first day was a brain melting conversation about the science behind the technology we were going to use, Michael's background and portfolio, logistics and some basic hands on learning. For the rest of the week, we photographed on location at a former state prison, worked outside at BMX and Motorcross tracks and photographed in the studio. Throughout, there were demonstrations, discussions, and critiques that surrounded our photographic activities.
We took a quick tour of the facility, were paired off with an athlete and given free rein to work where and how we wished. I first worked with Luis, a former MMA fighter. The prison was massive, so the independence was freeing and daunting at the same time. Luis had a fantastic look and the space matched him well. In between shots, he was affable and easy going, but as soon as the camera fired up, he became the warrior that you see in the image set below.
The first shoot with Luis worked well and the images were flowing. And maybe some overconfidence crept in on my part. All that confidence disappeared during the next shoot. Building out the "light trap" in the old cell block and matching the flash with the ambient light was a challenge. It took an hour to get a usable photo and Michael's knowledge was key. He was able to walk me through how my thought process was not suitable for how the technology worked. Once the lighting was locked in, the images followed. Having a world class athlete in Isaac, a martial arts expert and Hollywood stuntman meant that once the technical aspects were solved, he was able to do what only he could do.
As the week progressed, we gained confidence in our new skills and equipment. We went back on location to a local BMX track on Day 4. By this time, the technology was starting to make sense. However, the speed of the sport was still a challenge. We were also given the opportunity to create a portrait on the location of one of the athletes, which is one of my favorite images.
The road trip, and Northern New Mexico in particular, was stunning. I was up with the sun each day to soak up the world through which I was transitioning.