Mary and I have a continuous light kit at home that we have used to make portraits of our family. Mary really wanted to learn how to use studio strobe lighting and its hard to learn by just watching videos, so we attended a class last weekend. Here is what I learned.
Mary and I took a one day class at the Los Angeles Center for Photography with well known photographer Kevin Scanlon. Check out his website. We had ten students, one teacher, and two assistants, as well as, three studios set up for practice.
I feel sorry for instructors that have me and Mary as students as both of us are fairly particular about how classes should be structured and conducted AND Mary is a professional instructional designer and program leader for small and large scale training programs.
These one day classes are also brutal for the instructor as everyone shows up with their own agenda and experience level. We had four of us who had never used the equipment, two guys that were working photographers, and four students from the center that had taken previous classes and were there to “shoot.”
The Up Side
Kevin’s lecture was really well done regarding light theory, great examples of his work and others, and a thorough explanation of how to use the equipment. It was a “hands-on” class so you had to set up the equipment and assist each other with the light set up. Kevin was good about asking us questions rather than telling us what to do. I feel very comfortable setting up this equipment now in a 1-3 light set-up. I also learned how to use a light meter (finally).
Kevin was very helpful and energetic moving among three rooms to help all of us with our set-ups.
Everyone, I think, had plenty of time to shoot and use three different models and backgrounds. I did four set-ups myself, which was plenty for me.
My impression is the “class got away from Kevin”, i.e. we shot all afternoon for nearly five hours. If we had an agenda for the afternoon, I certainly did not know what it was and it was unclear how much time each of us had, which led to a lot of variability in the three groups and ten people.
We did not even try to process photos or have photo review. Maybe the six shooters in the class were just fine with that, but I need some review, critique, and coaching to learn. The assistants were somewhat helpful, but they did not appear to know how to use the equipment either or have opinions on artistic set-up.
It was an interesting experience and I did a lot, but I am concerned that I did not “learn” as much as I could have.
I am glad I went and I got a few images I like. I can use the equipment, but need a lot more work on “light recipes” and knowing cause and effect of changes I make. Not sure I would take another class like this with the very mixed experiences of the students. Since Mary and I photograph together, a private lesson would probably be worth the money.
To see more of (and buy) our photos, please go to www.pamphotography.com