2014 Photography Workshop Schedule

A preliminary calendar of upcoming 2014 Photography Workshops is now available. I tried to place them every 4th Sunday of each month. Themes and details will be filled in soon, but have a look for now.

”Photography! Acquiring the knowledge and tools to express your artistic vision.”
– Wayne Paulo


Briana Barela white bikini at October 2010 Glamour Lighting Photographer's Workshop

Do you know you’re beautiful?

Claudia G Electrifying Heat Map

Do you know if you’re beautiful?

Most beautiful women don’t know they’re beautiful.

If you’re a woman, you already know this. But guys find this hard to believe.

Even models, who have their moments of awareness, usually suffer from low self-esteem for one reason or another. And haunts them with seeing flaws in themselves that others would never notice, or at the very least, overlook.

They may wear a brave outer shell, but many times that is just a defensive wall for what’s going on inside.

How far will you go to Improve Your Photography?

Briana Barela all wet in the shower at a Photography Workshop

Using two AB400's, one 22" beauty dish, and one 7" reflector bounced off the tiles.

I once had an photographer who drove overnight from Michigan to San Antonio, TX just to attend a one-day photography workshop.   I was skeptical when I first talked to him on the phone, but he assured me that he wanted to attend one of MY workshops.   And he paid, showed up, participated, learned, and took that knowledge and confidence back with him and applied it to his own studio and style.

More than a few have traveled from Laredo, Houston, and even Dallas.  But Steven has always held the record for ‘distance furthest traveled to attend’.  That is, until this month when I’ll be beating his record distance by travelling from Toronto, Canada  Lol.  But he’ll still hold the student record.

The point is, how far will you go to invest in yourself?   Are you satisfied with the photographs you’re producing now?   Have you ever looked at others photographs and wished you knew how to create them?

I used to be in the same boat.  I had all the gear (or so I thought).  I had bought a full set of studio lights, had 20+ years pressing the shutter; yet still I my studio photographs lacked that ‘ooomph!’ that I saw coming from photogs such as Tracy Hicks, and others.

So, when I saw Tracy putting together a workshop, I jumped on it!  Even though the 1st one I attended was 3 hours drive, and the 2nd was a 5 hour drive, I felt the ends justified the means.   And you know what?  It did.

And it was easy.   Once someone showed me how, and I got the hands-on experience.  I knew what gear I needed, I knew how to use it; I was confident in experimenting with new lighting recipes, etc.

Invest in yourself.  You deserve it.  And it’s easier than you think.  What have you done lately to improve your photography?

Always shoot for yourself first

A few days ago I read a post by Scott Bourne entitled something to the tune of  Top 10 Business Tips for Photographers.    At the top of his list was Passion.

‘Passion’ is the answer I’ve been giving people for the past 20 years when they ask me how I make such great photographs.   And part of passion is what I term ‘shooting for yourself’.   If you shoot for yourself first, you’ll always make better photographs.

Layla Nude in Tub

The model came to me with this concept based on a photo she had seen. We discussed the look, and came out of the session with an even better image!

I’m not saying not to listen to your client.  I’m saying that if you take the clients ideas, and shoot them with YOUR vision, you’ll almost be guaranteed to come out of that session with a photograph with which both you and your client will be pleased.   Even in the extreme case of wedding photography, where it’s ‘her’ day, shoot for yourself first.  Sure, you can cover the mandatory shots, and the shots she/they request.  But, in the end, you’ll get much better shots if you’re not restricted by a formula.  Shooting with passion, and shooting for yourself, helps you create your own style.  And style is what will set you apart.   And THAT is what will get you hired by your next client.   And then you’ll always be shooting for yourself.

I know it sounds selfish, but shooting for yourself, to be pleased with your own work, is the least selfish thing you can do for your client.   It gives you the freedom to express yourself in the images you create for them.   And in turns provides them with a better product.  If YOU’RE not happy with your work, what would motivate you to do it again?

If we wanted to be restricted to formulas and rigidity we wouldn’t be photographers at all; we’d be happy working that 9-5 desk job day in and day out.  And really, I haven’t met many good photographers who are nine to fivers.  Have you?

Are ‘Home Studios’ creepy? Read a model’s opinion

In the words of one model:

(My version may be modified and/or out of date.
 Please Read the original & updated posting by Model Rachel Jay, with examples of her own work, on her site here: http://racheljay.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/the-home-studio/)

There are some models who say a photographer who has a home studio is creepy, unprofessional, and is one to be wary of. There are even some who say that a photographer who has an actual studio (as in one separate from his place of residence) is far more legit, safer, and more professional. The reasoning is often, “I don’t want to be alone with a stranger in his house”. What’s even more mindblowing is when people say things like, “a home studio is fine as long as there’s backdrops, lights and other expensive-looking stuff, it can even be in the basement… but just shooting out of the living room with none of that is creepy!”.

football, dallas cowboys, tony romo, briana barela, glamour photography, home studio,

Created in a one bedroom apt home studio.

And to all that I say: BULLSHIT! Why?
Studio rental can be expensive. Not everyone can afford to rent space to shoot in (especially right now). And why should someone who has the space available in their home/apartment be forced to fork out more dough to rent more space? They shouldn’t. Renting space doesn’t automatically make someone a pro… it makes them someone who can rent space.

Space is space. If there’s room for a backdrop and lights to be set up, there’s room to shoot. Heck, a lot of the time, you don’t need the backdrop and lights to get a beautiful shot–a space lit well with natural light can create amazing images. And sometimes, the lack of space and the uniqueness of it might force the model and photographer to get creative, which can result in some great stuff as well.

When did expensive equipment and a “legit-looking” place start meaning that the person who owns it all is safe and professional? Spending a lot of money on something doesn’t automatically buy that person talent as well, so why would it eliminate their creep factor or make them conduct themselves in a professional manor? It wouldn’t.

So, home studio versus rented space…
What’s the big deal where someone shoots? Models (especially those building their portfolios) should be more concerned with portfolio quality, professional conduct, and communication skills than where the photographer shoots his/her pictures.

If a model is insecure with being alone with the photographer, even after she’s checked references, she has a couple options. She could make sure it’s ok to bring a MUA (or ask the photographer if he has one he works with often), and book one. She could ask the photographer to meet ahead of time, at a place like Starbucks. Or she could just not shoot with that photographer.

Need a Model Release? There’s an app for that!

I installed Easy Release from http://www.applicationgap.com awhile back while it was in it’s infancy. The latest update allows for custom logo’s, custom releases, etc. You can bring up a release, add the model’s photo, have her, you, and a witness sign it on the iPhone, and have it send you and the model a PDF version of the release. See the screencap below of a sample release.

Of course, they explain it better:

Easy Release by ApplicationGap replaces inconvenient paper release forms with a slick, streamlined application designed by professional photographers for professional photographers. Easy Release lets you collect all the data and signatures you need right on your iPhone, then mails a PDF and JPEG of the release right to you. Easy Release uses industry-standard and proven legal language that is accepted by the world’s leading stock photo companies, like Getty Images and ALAMY. Plus, Easy Release supports 12 different languages, so you can get the release you need, no matter who, or where you are shooting.

Easy Release, smartphones, model release, apps, iphone, christine trimm, photography studio

How do you do that effect?

Next to ‘Do you need someone to hold the lights?’, the question I most often hear in regards to my photography is ‘How do you that?’.

How do you get that vignette effect?

How do you get the models skin that smooth?

What is that material you are using for the background? How did you get it that color?

Those are just a few of the most commonest questions I get asked every time I post a new photo online. It never fails; a few minutes after posting a new photo, I get a chat window popping up, or an email, or just a comment on the photo itself.

glamour model, studio lighting, photography workshop, amanda steele, bikini

And, the truth is, at one time, I had those same questions. I’ve been shooting for over twenty years. And I had experience shooting models. But, one day I saw a persons work that just blew my stuff out of the water! And I had to know how to do it! Luckily this person put on his own workshops. I not only signed up for two of his workshops, I travelled many hours to get to them.

I invested in myself. I knew that by making a small investment in myself, I was avoiding the long term trail-and-error method of trying to figure out how to do this…and how to do it right. I mean, how many times can you get a model to commit some time, at her own expense, just so you can experiment with getting it right? Not only is she going to get perturbed, but you’re going to look incompetent with all the fiddling of the lights, chimping at results, readjusting lights, changing backgrounds, etc.

So, I invested in the workshops at almost $300 each time. And that’s just for the workshop. That’s not counting the 3 hour drive to Houston, or the 5 hour drive to Dallas, hotel rooms, meals, gas, etc. I think I figured out that each weekend cost me an average of $500.

Then, I came home from each and ordered more gear; lights, booms, backgrounds, softboxes and grids. I already had a plethora of lights and such, but I wasn’t absolutely confident in how to use them, or what other gear I should invest in to create the results I desired. And this is one of the things that those workshops solved.

lingerie, glamour photography, studio strobes, boudoir, photography workshops

So, ask yourself these few questions:

1. Do I want to improve my confidence in photographing models?

2. Do I want to improve my confidence in using my lighting system?

3. Do I want to know what equipment I need in order to create those images that will stand out from competition?

4. Do I want to learn using real, live models, creating images that you can add to your portfolio immediately?

If you said yes to any of those questions, do yourself a favor and invest in yourself. Save yourself from wasting time and money on trail-and-error, and learn it quickly and inexpensively. Sign up for one of our glamour photography lighting workshops at: iPhotoWorkshops.com

Using new equipment in a photo shoot

Recently I did this photoshoot and decided to add another light as an experiment.  Now usually I shoot with 4 strobes, all of which are AB400’s.   I added a 5th light which had a great brand name, very heavy and should have been able to handle the job.

glamour photography, model, studio strobes, christine trimm

Unfortunately it did not.  With my shooting style I shoot quite rapidly.  I allow the models to free pose in order to avoid stiff poses.  I shoot frames whether I think the pose is good or not, because sometimes, once you look at it on screen it really WAS a good shot.  Why miss it?   But the point is, when I really see a model HIT the right pose, something that looks so super sexy and just ‘right’, I snap very rapidly: a slight shift of the hips, flick of the eyes, raise of the chin can make the difference between a ‘keeper’ and a shot that pops out.

In this case however, the rapid recycling times of the AB400 were able to keep up with my shooting style, but the extra ‘quality brand name’ light could not.  In fact, after a few rapid fires it would signal an ‘overheat’ condition and we’d have to stop for a few seconds to allow it to catch up to us.   This totally threw off my timing and the whole creative process.

So, just something to learn from my experience.  Try to make sure your lights can keep up with your style.   Even if they aren’t all the same watt-seconds, at least they should be close enough so it doesn’t slow you down.   I know I’ve had a few people at my workshops comment on the difference of shooting studio strobes vs. speedlights; once you see the difference you may switch too.