responsiveslider_lol_02 The Language of Light DVD - More
MeetJoe_02 Meet Joe McNally - More
inthebag What’s in the Bag? - More

Archive for the ‘Seminars & Workshops’ Category

Scenes from a Pre-Con

Sep 7

In News, Seminars & Workshops at 11:56am

First off, many thanks to the Kelby clan for inviting me to Vegas to teach at PhotoShop World. It was a hoot of a week. I’ve been doing my own “pre-con,” during the last couple of gatherings of the PhotoShop tribes, and they, too, have been fun, and hopefully, informative.

This one was special, in the sense we had several astonishing performers who regularly appear in Cirque du Soleil shows in LV as our subjects. These supremely gifted artists are a magnet for the camera and the imagination. We also had the amazing Drew Moore, a character actor out of LA, who offered his considerable presence and baleful “tough guy” stare to the proceedings.

In the above, I purposely chose a tough backdrop in bright sun, with a blaring Budget Rental truck in the parking lot. In bright sun, at f16, the truck is especially obnoxious, so I showed the class how to minimize that distraction via the technique of high speed sync flash, with one SB-910, a D4 and a fast 28, shot at 1/8000th at f1.4. With that combo, the truck recedes in importance.

Performers flipped, flew and leaped for us all day long. Much of the arranging was thanks to Adam Silversmith, a Vegas based shooter, who works with the Cirque folks a great deal. Kudos to Adam for lining up spectacular subjects!

We also had a huge assist from Jan Lederman, and Jason Friedman of MacGroup USA, who charged down to Vegas with new developments in flash photography to show the class. On a couple of sets, we used Bowens flash units, which have amazing electronics, and we had a steady light set going with Limelight, the Bowens line of constant light sources. Both sets were hugely popular, and the cast and crew had access to the latest innovations in different styles of lights.

The heavy lifting of building all the sets and the light fell to Cali, and Jon Cospito in our studio, ably supported by my friend and fellow photog, MD Welch, the magnificent madman of Reno. He threw a tank of gas in his truck and bombed down out of the desert (“on the roads it was a white line nightmare”) to help us out. The pix in this blog are courtesy of the aforementioned gentlemen.

Add to the mix the great location of Shine Alternative Fitness in LV, and we had an amazing day. Thanks to all the performers, participants and crew! More tk….

GPP Pops Up in London!

Jul 25

In Seminars & Workshops at 8:14am

Really looking forward to a short, wonderful trip to London this September for the GPP Pop Up with three colleagues I value and respect enormously, Greg Heisler, David Hobby, and Zack Arias. For two days, in a couple of venues, the four of us ping around the compass of shooting, lighting, adapting and surviving in this business. Greg goes high end, and opens up the door to his prodigious noodle and shows you the why and how of the way he imagines light. Zack goes DIY as only he can. I keep it small with just a couple of speed lights and ad hoc live shooting of portrait subjects I find in the audience. And David steps outside the box to talk about taking all the technique and creating an ecosystem for yourself as a photographer that you can manage and thrive in.

Best thing for me, is when I don’t teach, I’m in one of these guys’ classes with a notebook. And another best thing–London is one of the most amazing cites to be in, ever. I went to photo school there for six months, talked my way onto a fishing trawler and put into the North Sea (in November) for a couple weeks, shot a FedEx campaign there, and lived on the Isle of Dogs for National Geographic for 17 weeks. Yep, you guessed it–I’ve logged lots of pub time in England. When I lived in the East End for that stretch, all while London Docklands was being built, my local was the Tooke Arms, where the bartender would simply, without being asked, put a pint of Ruddles on the counter as soon as I walked in.

The way the GPP Pop Up is designed maximizes learning and variety, in short amount of time. Each class is focused, and different from each other. And, did I mention it’s in London? It’s a city I can never get enough of, and of course now, we’ll be there in the wake of the entire UK being gobsmacked by a cuddly new royal. And, I’m dropping this blog now, as a reminder, as you can get an early bird discount on the whole shebang if you act before July 31. So now’s the time to say, as DH mentioned over at Strobist, “Hey honey, summer’s over, tickets are cheaper, the weather’s great, how about London for a week? Oh, and look there’s this thing about photography and it’s only a couple days! Right in downtown! Just a hop, skip and a jump to Harrods!”

London’s calling……more tk…..






From South Africa to Santa Fe to Saint Lucia

Jun 10

In News, Seminars & Workshops, Upcoming Events at 5:07am


Doing a few teaching stints this summer in far flung places. In late June, head for the first time to So. Africa, and do seminars in Capetown and Johannesburg. Really excited. I have been to Africa numerous times, but never to the south, and I’ve alway been told amazing things about the beauty that abounds down there. Here’s a link discussing the trip, and the events. Hats off to Nikon South Africa for doing all the logistics and staging for the events! Read the rest of this entry »

Amazing Africa

Apr 27

In Memories, Seminars & Workshops at 8:50am

Leave on Sunday for Nigeria, and the NIPHEC gathering in Lagos. Really looking forward to returning to Africa, where I have worked many times, but have not been for quite a while. I anticipate many changes, and I look forward to working with amazing colleagues, such as Michael Grecco, Seun Akisanmi, Leke Adenuga, Folake Ojeikere & Shola Animashaun. It’ll be a terrific week, a great place to teach, and to learn. Many, many thanks to the organizer, Seun, who has put heart and soul into this conference. Below, some recollections from my first visit to the astonishing continent of Africa.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yowza! David Burnett and RC Concepcion Join Me in St. Lucia This Year!

Mar 25

In Seminars & Workshops at 5:39am

Our yearly St. Lucian adventure in flash lighting has grown so popular over the years that we’re doing two straight weeks this year at the magnificent Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain, both of which are routinely rated amongst the top destination resorts of the world. And as usual, we have guest instructors for each week. Thrilled to have colleagues David Burnett for week one, and RC Concepcion for week two. We go to the Caribbean for the last two weeks of August! Hit this link for all info on the hotel and the workshop. As I always say, there is no more beautiful place to learn lighting and camera work than St. Lucia.

David is quite simply one of the quintessential photojournalists of our time, a truly, historically important photographer. During our time teaching this workshop together, there will be an emphasis on the journalistic application of light, and tactics about using small flash simply, fast and well. The keynote for this workshop is storytelling. We will go “off campus” on walkabouts seeking good light, street scenes, and portrait subjects. David will lead these walkabouts in his unique way, informed by 40 years of covering presidents, conflicts, Olympiads–in short, most of the major events of our time. I will, as usual, direct and inform on the ins and outs of lighting on the fly, recognizing and using light well, and integrating small flash into an off the cuff street scenario. There will be daily critiques, and then, at the end of the week, David and I will also run a special critique session, offering commentary and analysis of the participants work. Then, as always, we close the week with sunset flambos on the beach, running  multiple, flash lit sets for all participants, complete with models, as the day fades into yet another surreal St. Lucian sunset.

RC is a one of a kind genius who knows the wherefores of shooting, post production and the web like no one I know. During his guest stint, he will teach modules on super simple digital video and editing, camera raw and PhotoShop, and lead an HDR bootcamp, shooting in the field and then back at class doing the post work. I will be teaching once again my usual component of flash lighting on the beach, at sunsets, in amazing hotel rooms and in the jungle with trail bikers. On the last day, RC and Joe combine for critiques and Q&A and then everybody hits the beach for a sunset flash extravaganza, complete with flambos, models, and big and small flash. If you are into making good light at the moment of exposure, then taking your pictures into the realm of post-production in simple, unique and beautiful ways, this week will be rich and informative.

Each participant in both weeks gets a free copy of Joe’s Language of Light DVD. There are discounts available for folks who want to come for both weeks. Here are the day to day descriptions of each week….


Photographers have an opportunity to learn lighting, story telling, and camera techniques from two of the world’s leading photographers and educators at St. Lucia’s ANSE CHASTANET and JADE MOUNTAIN Resorts. Joe McNally, internationally acclaimed American photographer and long-time photojournalist, will conduct two weeks of education about light and its possibilities. Both weeks will be about the language of light, and how to use small flash well and fast, travel with a minimal amount of gear, and make beautiful pictures and portraits.

Joining him as a guest instructor for the first week will be David Burnett, one of the world’s preeminent photojournalists. David, one of the truly significant photographers of our time, will lecture, critique and lead walkabouts that emphasize and demonstrate how to work with people on the street in spontaneous fashion and create wonderful, story telling portraits and scenes of Caribbean life.

Sunday Night Welcome Dinner (included in workshop)

Monday Morning Class with Joe: 9am

Held in an air-conditioned conference room, Each participant shows up to 8-10 images. This is not a portfolio critique. It is simply a “get to know you” session, with comments and discussion. Joe will then spin a slide show, offering lessons of light, and how to use it well and shape it, even in difficult circumstances. Environmental portraits, a “face in a place,” will be thoroughly investigated.

Midday break, from 1230 to 3pm.

Afternoon session, approx. 3 to 6pm

At the opening of the afternoon session, gear strategies will be discussed, buttons and dials explained, workflow explained, and participants will be introduced to the light shapers and grip equipment that will be available for them to use for the week. There will also be a sensor cleaning demo.

 In the afternoon, participants are paired off with each other,  the assignment being to take one small flash and one small, portable light shaper, and make effective, story telling portraits of each other. (The portrait can also be made with available light. This week is about using all manner of light well.)

Tuesday Morning: Critiques

Part of the morning is spent in class, discussing yesterday’s efforts, and evaluating results. The class then goes outside in the predictably, bright, harsh sun of the tropics nearing the noon hour, and strategies for using bad light well are discussed and shown. Bounce boards, hand held diffusers, raw flash, hi-speed sync, and large silks are all brought to bear to tame the raging sun. One of the most important skills any shooter needs is the ability to use bad light well, and to overcome situations where they encounter tremendous disparity of light.

Midday Break: 12:30 to 3pm

The class is sent out, each individually, to take camera in hand and, in three hours, create a journalistic impression of the hotel. This could involve photographing their spouse or traveling partner, hotel staff, other guests, the jungle biking areas at Anse Mamin, the dive shop, the bars, or the beach. It is important to feel and get used to that awkward, occasionally intensely uncomfortable feeling one has a photographer: “What do I do now?” Or, “How do I tell this story?” “Where do I start?” Moreover, you have to overcome the natural reticence one has about approaching strangers, introducing yourself, your camera and your intent into their lives, and trying to, as seamlessly as possible, tell their stories. Joe and his assistants will be centrally located during this stint and available for questions and problem solving.

Tuesday Evening: Photographic Legend and Lore with David Burnett  8-10pm

After a break and dinner, the class gathers for a truly special evening of historically important photojournalism, complete with Q&A, and tall tales from the field. (The amazing thing about David, given his stature and history in this field, his tall tales are all true.) Embedded in David’s lively lecturing style are lessons from a photographic life, and anecdotal, inspirational information about how and where to point your own camera, and tell your own stories.

Wednesday Morning, Critiques

The morning is spent in class with Joe, critiquing and evaluating the previous day’s efforts. At the end of the critiques, Joe shows a slide show detailing stories from 25 years of shooting for National Geographic, and LIFE. (Both David and Joe were members of the legendary photo staff of LIFE, and both go about story telling in their own, individual, provocative way.) As always, Joe is a complete open book, free with information on how stories get produced, client relationships, rights, rates, and the possibilities for the future.

Midday Break: 12:30 to 3pm

Afternoon walkabout with David and Joe

Locations for this could be nearby Soufrieres, or anyone of the tiny fishing villages that dot the coast. Transport to and from location by van or boat. TBD.

Thursday Morning Critiques

Once again, back in class with Joe, evaluating images, and discussing what went right and what went wrong. During all the crit sessions, Joe will have been selecting images that represent the best of the participants work for the week. That process will continue during this session. Also during this session there will be presentations from Drew Gurian and Michael Cali, two young, promising photographers in the field of rock and roll shooting and weddings. They will detail and discuss their beginnings, their setbacks and successes, and their developing strategies to “make it” in this industry.

Midday Break: 12:30 to 3pm

Afternoon Walkabout with David and Joe

Again, locations will vary depending on weather and availability of van or boat transport. Castries is a possible destination, along with the coastal villages, or in the interior jungles, parks and farms.

Friday Morning: Critiques

David runs this critique session, taking a look at the distilled, edited images from the week and the previous day’s shoot. He offers his journalistic take on what went right or wrong, and how to push forward with your photography in a powerful, storytelling fashion.

Midday Break: 12:30 to 3pm

Then: Return to class for a lively Q&A wrap up with both David and Joe. You can bounce questions off either, or both, or engage and solicit their opinions on all manner of photographic stuff, past, present, and looking to the future. After that……Flash extravaganza on the beach! During the Q&A, Drew and Cali are hard at work on the beach, where the St. Lucian legend, Junior, prepares his flambos for a sunset display on the beach. Two to three sets are available for participants to rotate through, all involving radio controlled small and big flash, gels, and the blending of the sunset sky with a flash lit foreground. All sets will be populated with models.


This week will be an intensive look at all manner of speed light techniques, from simple one light, on the fly strategies to multiple flash, gels, balancing flash and ambient light, finding a picture and lighting it well, high speed sync–in short, a wide range of small flash expertise, along with some big flash examples along the way.

Joining him will be one of the world’s preeminent visual educators, the brilliant RC Concepcion. RC will join Joe in teaching about light, color and composition, and add to the mix his mastery of virtually all of the necessary post production wizardry all photographers must know, from HDR techniques, to Lightroom to shooting quick and easy video.

Monday Program

Morning Session: 9am. Class meets in air-conditioned conference room equipped with digital projector. Morning is devoted to assessing participant portfolios and determining objectives for the week. Each participant to bring no more than 10 images for review and discussion. They can be the participant’s images, or images not their own that they admire and wish to know more about, or emulate in some way.

Joe will do a slide show based on lighting strategies that emphasizes the use of all manner and color of light to create effective portraiture and story telling pictures. The key this week is to explore techniques for excellent small flash use, finding a photograph, shooting it well, and then, given RC’s amazing post production expertise, finishing that photo well.

Break from 12:00 – 3:00 pm.

In the afternoon, gear strategies will be discussed and buttons and dials explained. There will be a demo of sensor cleaning techniques, and an overview of work flow for the week, followed by a review of basic lighting techniques.

Special Short Lecture:  Capturing video with your DSLR!

Your DSLR camera can be used as an instrument to produce wonderful video that can complement your images.  In this short workshop, RC talks about how to setup your camera for quick video capture, what are some of the tools of the trade for capturing great video, and quick workflows for capturing footage while making great still images.

This short, informative presentation from RC will enable the participants to shoot quick simple video clips throughout the week of their St. Lucia adventure. After RC’s quick talk, there is an afternoon shooting session consists of small teams with a model assigned to each team. Basic assignment: Use one light well.

Tuesday Program

Part of the morning is spent in class, discussing yesterday’s efforts, critiquing and evaluating results. The class then goes outside in the predictably, bright, harsh sun of the tropics nearing the noon hour, and strategies for using bad light well are discussed and shown. Bounce boards, hand held diffusers, raw flash, hi-speed sync, and large silks are all brought to bear to tame the raging sun. One of the most important skills any shooter needs is the ability to use bad light well, and to overcome situations where they encounter tremendous disparity of light.

Break from 12:00 – 3:00 pm.

Afternoon demo and on location discussion of shooting interior/exterior environments effectively, with emphasis on using flash to balance exposure zones encountered in the open air rooms of Jade Mountain. Each team disperses with models to a selection of rooms to shoot for the afternoon. Assignment is to create mood and ambiance, while effectively using small flash techniques to blend interior and exterior environments.

Special Tuesday Evening Presentation: Camera Raw and Photoshop, From Start to Finish, RC Concepcion  8-10pm

After a break and dinner, the class gathers for a start to finish workflow seminar.  RC will go over his workflow for importing and organizing images into Lightroom.  Once completed, RC will go over key things to keep in mind during the post processing of your images – focusing on making the most of your raw files in the Develop module in Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop.  Finally, RC will take selected images from RAW and arm you with solid Photoshop techniques to make the most of your images- covering things from sharpening, post processing effects, masking, layer blending, and image recovery.

Wednesday Program

Meet in conference room at 9:30 for image review and critique with Joe. Time in class available to select and edit images for max of 3 per student to project. Break from 12:00 – 3:00 pm.

Afternoon Session

A visit to the Soufrieres Fire Department! An afternoon with firefighters at their home fire station in downtown Soufrieres. Firefighters make for iconic portrait subjects, and Joe has a long relationship to the department. Strategies, demos will be offered in how to do single, and group portraits, on location, using an environment to tell a story.

Thursday Program in Class: Special Session! The HDR Bootcamp

In this class, RC will teach you how to make the most out of your HDR experience. RC will cover what images make great HDR, and show the camera technique needed to make sure you have the source files you need.  After the hardware is complete, RC will go over the entire HDR process from a software point of view.  From capturing the image to tonemapping.  Layer blending to photographic effects, RC will show that this technique can not only be something that you can control and master – but effectively use for creating stunning images.

The above is followed by quick critiques of the firehouse adventure.

Break from 12:00 – 3:00 pm.

Afternoon Session

Photography in the jungle. Panning and blurring techniques with flash and jungle bikers. Demonstration by Joe in the art of creating images that move. Also portrait techniques demonstrated in the intense, beautiful jungle environment. Teams assigned models to shoot for afternoon. Each team will have access to an experienced biker.

RC is also there in the jungle, leading an HDR walkabout, and students can participate in the “flash and blur,” and or the HDR field trip.

Friday Program

Both Joe and RC run the critique session, and field questions from the week in a lively Q&A and review. All techniques, strategies for going forward to take the next step in your photography, are up for discussion, including business strategies for the photographer. Given RC’s expertise on the web, he’ll offer excellent strategies for building a web site and projecting a visual presence. 

Break from 12:00 – 4:00 pm.

Final Afternoon session: Meet in class to for final Q&A session and review of techniques learned. Last session late on Friday, class gathers on beach for spectacular “flambo” sunset session, with fires on the beach, models and flash lighting with gels. The famous Junior of the Anse Chastanet staff creates a wondrous environment on the fire lit beach, and individual sets are created, running off of Pocket Wizard flashes, that each participant can rotate through to create their own flash at sunset tropical masterpiece.

All session times and subject matter subject to change pending availability of subjects, weather, rooms etc.

See you in St. Lucia!  More tk…