I just got back from the WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International) 2012 conference in Las Vegas, NV.
In addition to the trade show floor where manufacturers exhibited their new cameras, studio and lighting equipment, software tools, wedding albums, etc., I had the opportunity to take seminars and workshops from some of the world’s best photographers.
People I took seminars and workshops from include:
- Maryland-based wedding photographer and portrait scientist Clay Blackmore (he was Monte Zucker’s assistant until Monte passed away in 2007)
- SF-based portrait & wedding photographer Bambi Cantrell
- Pulitzer Prize winning celebrity portrait photographer Brian Smith
- Beverly Hills wedding photographer, classically-trained Flamenco guitarist, and recent author Roberto Valenzuela
- Atlanta-based wedding photography legend and advocate of the photojournalistic movement Denis Reggie
- NY-based fashion, portrait, and wedding photographer Lindsay Adler
- Australian fashion, portrait, and boudoir photographer Sue Bryce
- NY-based wedding photographer & teacher Doug Gordon
- Washington, D.C.-based wedding photographer Moshe Zusman
While the scientific aspects of photography are well documented in books, the art of photography is not well covered in books. It is much easier to learn lighting, composition, and especially posing hands-on. I’ve taken many local seminars, but the expertise and instruction at WPPI is world class plus the opportunity to take 12 such classes is like getting knocked down by a firehose. What a great learning experience! What’s more impressive is that in this competitive industry, the very top photographers are so secure in their own craft and business that they are willing to pass on their knowledge plus they are interesting and down-to-earth people.
Above and below are a few photos I took during a hands-on workshop with the inimitable Moshe Zusman. Moshe took a small group of us outside onto the strip to teach us how to do an evening glamour shoot. The first photo was just as the sun was setting, making the light very soft. Every bride wants to look her best, so Moshe instructed us on how to pose our brides and grooms as though they were models.
After the sun set, all we had was street lights and neon lights, so we used a small radio-triggered softbox as our main light and a simple speedlight for backlighting. With the sky still slightly blue, we got a beautiful mix of studio lighting and a nighttime look.
I also used a technique known as the “Dutch tilt.” I have avoided this in the past because it can look cheesy when misused, but Moshe and others at the show taught me how to use it effectively.
Once the sun had fully set, we had to rely on city lights for ambience, so we posed the bride dramatically with the groom out-of-focus in the background. This is one of the most popular looks in wedding photography. The combination of her pose, the obedient groom waiting in the wings, and the busy city lights gives the photo a high fashion look.
A big thanks to Moshe for his excellent instruction. In addition to being insightful and a wonderful instructor, he is an absolute nice guy to boot!