Friday, November 18, 2011

Workshop Q/A

Monday Mornings. Jordan Daniele.

Here's an excerpt of a conversation I'm having with a future workshop student

I think I would have to do two days with you then, I just have to figure out how to work it into my budget.

I would like to learn how you do your post process work, how you pick a good picture from a great picture, how you retouch, dodge and burn technique, how you network, get noticed, and work with agencies. (west Michigan is more of a wedding photography area) How you interact with the model, how to pick what model to work with for different projects, and how to get published. I would like to spend half the day learning about this with you (would you mind if I bring a recording device to take note, it would be for my own use) the other half I would like to spend shooting with you.

I think the second day (if I can manage it), I would like to spend building my portfolio just shooting indoors and out, with different locations outdoor. I would like to book a second model for this day.

I don't need to learn about setups, lighting, metering or anything that has to do with studio work seeing how I don't own a studio (yet hopefully). I will eventually have to learn, but I feel like I can learn that stuff from local photographers.

I shoot with a canon 5d mark ii, what lens do you recommend? I only own two lens so with your recommendation I would rent one or two for the trip. My fav lens that I always go to is my 70-200mm f/2.8 and the second one I own is the 24-105mm f/4 (I'm thinking about selling this one because I rarely use it)

My response follows:

Don't sell the 24-105mm f/4 because that's the lens of choice I recommend for your use this time around.

My primary lens is 24-70mm f/2.8 (or was).

And also the 50mm f/1.8 (or f/1.4 if you have it).

Why? Well, particularly outdoors, I don't always have room to step back far enough to capture a full-length shot of the model. With the 70-200mm f/2.8 (which WAS my favorite lens), I find I'm limited by space when capturing full-length shots. Also the more physical distance between you and the model, the less of a "bond" however real or perceived this may actually be. Physical distance can be used to put the model more at ease. But these days the girls I work with don't mind if I'm standing on top of them working at close quarters. If anything, I want the models to respond more and not be too much at ease but that's another post I'll have to write shortly on my blog at a later point in time.

If you have one, bring a 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 since they are so cheap.

We won't be shooting much between 24-50mm length. Most of your use of the 24-105mm f/4 will be between 50-105mm. We don't want distortion if we can help it. It's not a fashion look.

Since you don't have a studio, I won't harp on the lighting setups. However I will force you to see lighting from a studio photographer's perspective. The flaw of most wedding photographers and ambient light shooters is that they rely on soft ambient light (like overcast, shade, etc.) and they think that all ambient light is good light. Not so. You can still get raccoon eyes with ambient light if you don't watch the light. And because it's harder to detect (because of soft edges), most ambient light shooters never learn how to light correctly. They always carry that ambient light crutch that fools them into thinking their shots will be fine as long as there is cloud cover, shade cover, etc. We will do what you would do without a studio but we will build your mental lighting framework to ensure you're "lighting" well even when you can't move the sun. I'll show you how I shoot outdoors with or without reflectors (mostly without), how I select a backdrop, what makes a good backdrop, and of course how to use the sun to your advantage regardless of time of day.

We have several outdoor locations at our disposal.

Post-processing, absolutely.

Image selection is critical. It's arguably the most important post-processing skill. Can't polish a turd right? Aligning your "eye" with the client, model, MUA, editor, art director, wardrobe stylist, and/or model agent is critical. Being able to see from their points of view will land you bigger and better jobs.

Model-photographer interaction. You must ask me to demonstrate. I don't always do so but I employ subtle techniques from the point of contact to image delivery that ensures a smooth "transaction" all while building the relationship and level of comfort. There's enough for me to teach an entire class just on that topic alone.

We could actually talk about the contents of your second paragraph for days. I teach an entire business workshop that's a 2-day event that covers, networking, getting noticed, working with agencies (that's ANOTHER 2-day event), getting published, etc.

You can record as long as you don't share the recording.

Come with specific questions. Bring a notebook to write on and preferably a notebook computer to share your images so we can do post-processing together.

Over the course of these 2-days my objective is to raise your comfort level with shooting along with all the other aspects of photography that you're involved in so that you leave LA feeling like you elevated your photography game by multiple levels. But we must focus, ask specific questions and really gear to learn. The learning won't stop after the end of the second day, quite the contrary. It's simply impossible to assimilate all the stuff we'll cover so you'll slowly be absorbing knowledge for the next 2 weeks. But you have to prepare yourself to do so to the optimal degree.

Let me know if you have any other questions ;)


  1. Charles, will you continue to offer a 1-on-1 workshop in 2012?

  2. Hey Rudy, yes I'll continue to offer 1-on-1 workshops in 2012 although it will depend heavily on my work schedule.