Before I start the review let me just say workshops and training are different for each person. You get out of them what you put into them. That being said please use your own judgment on how the content best fits your needs.
The “Grunge Motel” workshop is unique for a workshop. Many times workshops are all about portraits, glamour, products or fashion. This theme was one I just wanted to do. It doesn’t fall into the everyday images we tend to shoot. So let’s set the stage for this experience as it is. Start with a rundown motel that, when you see it, the last thing on your mind is stopping. You walk in and you really don’t want to even touch ANYTHING!! Imagine stained carpet, curtains that are painted to the walls… furniture that is just falling apart in fact there was one room condemned by the city. Now add a beautiful semi-nude/nude model to the mix and…
Well, before I get ahead of myself lets talk shop! The workshop is done by Danny Griffin and is semi-private with only 2 participants per workshop. You can see his work at www.dannygriffin.net. We start with a handout going over the basics of the type of lighting, the mood, what we want to accomplish. Then it is how to set your camera for this style of imagery. Then we are introduced to model Jessica Vaugn. You can see her portfolio at www.jessicavaugn.com or find her on several modeling sites. She brings a variety of lingere’ and lets you pick the looks you want to shoot her in. To top it off all of the items have a photo of her on the front so you can see exactly what she looks like wearing the item.
We began the shoot by setting our white balance. A good idea for any shoot however most people tend to rely on “auto” white balance. If you don’t know how to set this on your camera I suggest reading up on it and getting a grey-card. The shoot lasted about 2.5 hours with several changes. Between changes lighting modifications were made. Most images are done with a single mono-light but we did add in a reflector as needed. We( I ) also shot a few images using natural light.
Danny used a very experienced model as Jessica needed little direction to give us incredible images. We used every aspect of the room, all the furniture, rather Jessica was on the bed or standing on the night stand. (luckily some of it was nailed to the wall!) Safety was a concern as it should be in any shoot, but there was no stopping her from climbing on things to give us something different. It helps to have a model that is experienced and willing to give her all! We were not disappointed, she delivers.
Upon completion of the shoot we went back to the studio to edit time images. Danny looked over our images and helped us pick out a few for editing. He gave us a mini critique of our shots and some pointers on how to improve them. He provides a layer file and gave step by step instructions on how to finish an image. It took roughly 30 – 40 minutes to edit the first one and I was able to complete a second one while watching the other participant work on his. Some of the others have taken even less time to do now that I know the steps and have the provided sample file. I did learn some KB shortcuts (THANK YOU!) and how to use some tools I’ve never tried before. My weakest area is photo finishing so this was a very useful learning tool for me.
Danny did allow us the freedom to try new things, we were not tied to a set agenda. I was able to pop out the “Lens Baby” for a few. In fact Danny barrowed it for a couple shots himself. Towards the end while the other participant was shooting I put on my 35mm F/1.8 and got some nice natural light shots. This was very different for me to shoot as I normally shoot commercial type images, 90% of them on white. I wanted to do this workshop because it is so different in style and creativity. It is not the everyday images I am use to. Think outside the box, be creative and look at what you can accomplish.
Ok, now for the wrap-up… I don’t put a rating on my reviews because training and learning are different for each person. If you are looking for something creative and different then this workshop is for you. Don’t sign up thinking you are going to be in a controlled studio environment because you won’t! Be ready to step outside the box and have fun. The price for this workshop… we shot for 2.5 hours (shared time) so model fees alone would be at least the cost of this workshop. Top that off with the instruction and a lesson in photo editing (Damn I need to learn those CS keyboard shortcuts!!) and you have a very reasonable price. Total time was about 4.5 to 5 hours. Workshop is highly recommended.
Still not sure… After posting some of the images I have been contacted by 3 different models wanting to do a similar shoot. I have 2 of them scheduled in 2 weeks from this posting. Lesson…the door to the studio lets you out if you just walk through it. Take the chance and let it payoff in the end!!