As I have mentioned in a previous post there is definitely a lot to be gained from a photographic training course that cannot be substituted by reading a book. The most recent course I attended on “Creative Editorial Fashion and Beauty Lighting” was no exception. The course was given by Jon Gray who has over 25 years of serious experience as a professional photographer (from way back in the day when permed hair for men was cool). Even though he has been in the business for a long time, and knows pretty much everything there is to know about it, his passion was still evident in his enthusiasm to transfer his knowledge and photographic experiences.
The training day consisted of Jon discussing some of his photos (and there seemed to be an interesting story behind most of them) followed by some hands on studio training. Jon was accompanied by Fiona York, a professional model, who although had got up at 4am that morning still looked like she had just walked off the cover of Vogue. To be honest, with Fiona’s exceptional features, friendly personality and patience it was difficult for any of us to take a bad photo! I also immediately understood why Jon virtually has no use for “smoothing skin” in Photoshop.
So with the beautiful model boxed ticked the next step was for Jon to talk us through the lighting setup and techniques for capturing editorial fashion images perfectly in camera. Like many things in life it is the small things and attention to detail that end up making the big differences. One thing I have discovered in the few months that I have been researching and practising fashion type portraiture is that there is a lot of information about lighting setups and poses but very little information on what really makes the great photos stand out. The attention to smaller details such as eye positions, hands, hair and the model expression all need to come together to get that “perfect” shot. This is something that will come with practise but is also something that first needs to be understood in order to know what to look for during a portrait shoot. The real benefit of the course was having Jon talk through each of my photos and give feedback as to why certain shots worked and why others didn’t. At times it did feel like my confidence was taking a bit of a knock as Jon picked out each minor flaw in the majority of photos but at the same time was quick to say when one was “spot on”. In such a highly competitive business there is no room for “good” shots, they have to be perfect. At the end of the day that is why I choose to attend training courses. My goal is to capture images that stand out and to be honest I don’t know how I would get to achieve this without first being taught by the best in the business.