Seeing the light

October 4, 2010

My current obsession is shooting with natural light. I'm absolutely smitten with the glowy creamy skin tones you get. Everyone looks radiant when the lighting is pretty! Now I always seek out where the best light is FIRST, then what would make for a good background SECOND. But not too long ago I had a hard time recognizing where to find this elusive and perfect natural light to shoot my subjects in. I was reliant on shooting my portrait sessions at the end of the day and taking advantage of the warm light during the "golden hour".

But let's be real. On a wedding day, it doesn't happen like that! It wasn't until I took Tanja Lippert's Lightwalk Workshop back in July that I was finally freed of my fear of shooting smack in the middle of the day. Tanja is a 100% film photographer based here in the Bay Area. We all know that when you shoot film, there is no looking at the LCD to check if your exposure is right. You have to really know your stuff! When I would look at her photos, I just couldn't figure out why when I took pictures under open shade everyone looked a little flat, but her subject were always glowing. So when we started our "light walk" at one o'clock in the afternoon that day, I literally wanted to high five myself on the forehead and scream "DUH"! I could finally see the light!

During the light walk, Tanja and her stylist sidekick Tia approached me about their Art of Directing workshop that was taking place a few days later. They wanted me to be one of the models. In exchange I would get to hang out the entire day and experience the workshop from the best perspective of all, the client's. Um, yes please! I packed up a suitcase full of my best vintage outfits and got to spend the day shooting inside the most amazing warehouse space.

During the workshop, Tanja went through how she makes their clients (who are normal everyday people like you and me) look like professional models. I've never modeled before and they wanted to prove that you can take anyone and make them look amazing. All it takes is a little pre-session wardrobe styling, amazing light and some good direction. Tia got me a dolled up in a vintage play suit. Tanja then took over the reigns and directed every move I made in front of the camera. She spoke softly and had me completely entranced even though I had 15 other photographers pointing their lenses at me. At that point, I seriously would have picked my nose if she told me it was pretty. She is THAT good at directing people!

I know that being in front of the camera is a little intimidating, if not down right scary. I can't even begin to tell you how much this experience has changed the overall vision of my photography, my business and the experience I want to create for my clients. From now on, I truly believe you will see a real change in my creative portraits. For me it has always been about the emotion, the feelings and the story. But somehow I feel like I have been given a new set of tools in which to tell the story more with more depth.

I feel so lucky to have not only been shoot on film, but to have had this chance to be apart of such an amazing workshop. Tanja and Tia are quite the dynamic duo and the day is full of contagious dork energy. There's still a few spots left in her November workshops, so be sure to sign-up ASAP!