Portrait & Lighting Workshop / by Mike Stacey

Peter is a keen film shooter from way back. He has an interesting history, previously having lived interstate and shot plenty of artistic nude and figure work many years ago. Whilst moving back to NSW, the removal truck caught fire and all his archives and negatives were burnt and lost. His life then entered a phase of work and family and photography took the inevitable back seat. Now that Peter is retired, he's rekindling his passion for photography, and for shooting film.

He had seen a photograph of mine shot on 8x10" film which spurred his interest in shooting large format portraits and helped with his motivation for getting back into photography with a purpose. It also spurred him to make contact and to attend my ADORNED show at Gallery One88 in Katoomba. We met up and had a bit of a chat about film and the portraits on display at the show. He was keen to learn more and I'd let him know that I sometimes offer custom workshops, so through quite a lot of dialogue we arranged a 3 hour program for him which would cover exactly what he wanted to know.

The ethereal Bianca from the ADORNED series, shot on 8x10" film. Headpiece and styling by Gian Designs.

I spent considerable time on this bit - the planning phase (or Analysis & Design) - defining the scope, content and objectives of the 3 hour workshop for Peter. I looked at Peter's work, analysed what I thought his aesthetic was and it was all done with his inpu. I sent him the workshop's agenda each time I revised it with new information until he was happy with the content and flow of the 3 hour block. I also provided a choice of models for the workshop. Each photographer has differing aesthetics and the muse they visualise in their pictures can be as specific in their mind as other elements of the image. That specificity could come down to the figure of the model, it could be their ability to emote in a particular way, it could be their eyes, their presence with the camera - so many aspects. Ama was the chosen model and of course she delivered great results. Both Gina and I have worked with Ama numerous times and she lives a few kilometers away, so this was easy.

The final program ended up being mainly about natural light, although I had included one set-up that required the use of a single studio strobe. There were four overall set-ups:

  • High key - using window light and strobe. This is an effect I sometimes use for particular images which has a very flat painterly feel with almost no shadows.
  • Lindbergh lighting - that's what I call it anyway
  • Back lighting
  • Working with the edge of the light

Gina from Gian Designs was on hand to help with the styling aspect of the shoot - generally we had one look per lighting set-up and that particular look was designed to 'fit the light'. Gina also arranged some lovely snacks and drinks for us that we could grab whenever we felt like it.

The other thing I always emphasis on my workshops is that I want the client/s to go away with high quality images for their portfolios. So here are some lovely photographs from the afternoon - all these (except for the one on the left) were shot by Peter Lee on his Mamiya RB67 - hand held using TRI-X rated at ISO 800. These, except for the first one, were shot using the last lighting set-up. He shot many digital images too using my Nikon D800.

© Peter Lee

© Peter Lee

© Peter Lee

© Peter Lee

Finally, one of my own images from the workshop - Peter had brought along a Pentax 67 belonging to a friend who couldn't get good pictures with it so I put two rolls through it to test it out.

© Mike Stacey Photographic Works
I absolutely love this shot - Ama's presence and sense of connection with the camera is so outstanding. [Pentax 67]

You can read Peter's own personal review of the workshop on his blog over here.

I have 17 years of teaching and University lecturing experience and the last 8 years I've worked as an Instructional Designer for the corporate world designing and writing learning programs. To get these jobs, my knowledge of Adult Learning has to be up to date with the most contemporary ideas and theories. I am constantly engaged in my own research and reading in order to stay abreast of it all. I can guarantee a good learning experience based on all of this!

If you have any enquiries about workshops, or if you have a particular area of photography you would like to know more about or even if you would just like to build your portfolio with some quality images of a professional model, please get in touch using the contact page here or send an email to info@mikestacey.com or call/text 0409 654 624.

© Mike Stacey Photographic Works
Working with the edge of the light from one of the final lighting set-ups. 
Muse: Ama Garatshun