On Friday, I took the day off work and drove up to Philadelphia to take the “Small Strobes, Big Results” workshop with David Tejada. The workshop was a full day with the morning session at the Ukranian League of Philadelphia and the afternoon session spent at the Eastern State Penitentiary.
The workshop was a little crowded for my tastes, 20 or so other photographers but I got to meet a lot of different photogs with varying levels of experience. The morning session was a discussion of the gear that David uses and a lot of it was inexpensive McGuyver-esque setups and tools that was really the whole theme of the workshop. Using small strobes and inexpensive setups that produce professional and impressive results.
One of my favorite experiences of the day was a subtle one. David was demoing a “ghetto-boom” and with a little ingenuity from one of the participants, we had given the ghetto-boom an articulated arm. It was this sort of “out-of-the-box” thinking that is at the center of David’s strategy and workshop. He doesn’t look at things and see “what is”, he looks at them and sees “what could be”. This moment really set the tone for me for the workshop and struck a cord with me about the way I do things. It seems silly but this single moment was worth the price of admission for the day. After that, every lighting setup was just a reinforcement of that core value and a visual example of “what could be”.
The afternoon we spent in the FREEZING prison setting up lighting scenarios with models and David walked us through his entire thought process as he prepared the setups. Nothing was pre-planned (except the locations), he didn’t meter once and instead relied on a tethered laptop to see if he was getting the expected result. There were no lighting ratios or formulas, everything was rather free form and fluid.
After David would setup the shot, we would photograph the setup and then each get a turn with the pocket wizard to take a shot of the model. Because there were so many of us, the time with the model was VERY quick. The point of the workshop was to learn how to light, not how to interact with the model or build a portfolio.
The prison itself was a very interesting piece of history. Built in 1829 and was active until 1971! The architecture was very interesting and there were lots of neat places to shoot and lots of interesting areas.
After the workshop, we all convened at the pub across the street and got to share stories and talk shop. It was a great social experience and for me, a demonstration of how far I’ve come in the last 18 months. I don’t think I ever would have considered going to a workshop by myself before but now I’m just looking forward to taking another workshop.