Recently, I attended a day long photography seminar at James L. Knight Center in Miami. It was presented by Kelby One Live and the guest instructor was world-renowned photographer, Joe McNally.
Take a peek at his work here:
Joe has been working as a general assignment photographer for decades. He is most noted for his work as an environmental portrait photographer. He has published dozens of books and has done assignments for major magazines including National Geographic. Joe is a master with small flashes or speedlights as well as studio strobes. He can transform an extremely boring environment into an exciting arena for artistic expression.
That was his task that day. To transform the dark, gloomy auditorium full of 200 or so eager-to-learn participants into a thing of beauty and mystery. Photography was allowed but no video or audio recordings. I only had my phone so the pictures shown here are not great quality but I wanted to give you an indication of some of the photos he created in a live demo environment. He would use audience members as subjects and through the use of simple soft boxes and multiple gelled flashes scattered around the room, would create some great looking photos. While creating the perfect portrait or scene, he would explain his methods and share all of the technical details with the audience. Most of it was trial and error but the results were truly inspiring.
Here are my top 5 takeaways from the seminar:
1. Try to research your subject/subjects before you shoot.
2. During the shoot, give your subject or person something to do or think about in front of the camera. Offer them water or snacks if available.
3. Make your subject feel good. Flatter them by telling them they are doing great and look fantastic. Share your images with them as you go along.
4. On location, assess everything in relation to the subject and the environment. Will you need to light it or can you use natural light? Or will it be a combination of both? Will this be a fantasy image or more straightforward? What are you trying to convey with the picture?
5. Once you decide how to light it, get the main light ready and once it’s close to how you want it to look, only then bring in a second light to build the rest of the scene. Make sure the light you use is appropriate for the subject.