Since I started taking photography "seriously" all my knowledge has been gained through reading books and closely following some of the top photography blogs. So it was a big step for me when I decided to participate in one of Damien Lovegrove's highly regarded training courses. I was slightly sceptical about how much I would learn in 8 hours while walking the streets of Bristol but I settled on the philosophy that if I don’t go I would never know. Acknowledging that my wish list item of a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 would have to wait a little longer I reluctantly parted with a substantial portion of my “lens fund” and seamlessly enrolled online for the “Urban Portrait” training.
The broad outline of the day was to walk around an interesting area of Bristol with a trained model and get some great urban style shots - pretty simple really. However, this fairly simple concept was turned into a foundation to provide a deluge of information and tips for location portraits. Throughout the day we shifted location in order to learn a new technique either involving natural light or the use of a single unmodified speed light. I have always been wary of using unmodified flash in a direct manner but done correctly it gives amazing results. I was immediately impressed with how some very simple techniques can make a big different to the look of a photograph. From turning a gloomy day into a stunning sunset, to using a railway tunnel to give a studio lighting effect the information flowed throughout the day. At times I felt I was capturing the style of images directly in camera that in the past I had to use Photoshop to achieve! Aside from picking up some very handy lighting tips the course will help improve your skills for identifying great urban location spots that, with a trained eye, can be found in any city. I now find myself walking around town making mental notes of locations that I need to go back to photograph with a model.
A training day not only involves learning some great techniques hands-on but also a great opportunity for a group of likeminded people to get together and share information. Even the vastly experienced Damien “borrowed” a unique shooting angle captured by one of the participants. That just goes to show that we are always learning in one way or another as photographers. Training courses serve as a great environment for both amateurs and professionals to learn something new and ignite fresh ideas. So, bottom line, was it worth raiding the lens fund for 8 hours of training? Sorry Nikon, but it's a definite yes!
Below are some images from the training session and remember that it was a dark gloomy day for the entire session.