As a photographer, it is always important to be grow, adapt and learn. At Spark Art, our goal is to consistently improve and learn new things. The best photographers are the ones who are constantly evolving and experimenting. Getting outside of comfort zones can be a challenge sometimes but it is crucial to growth and improvement. When the opportunity came along to attend this two day workshop, I was thrilled. Not only learning from some of the best photographers in the business, but also getting to network with like minded professionals was an amazing prospect. Shutterfest was a definite must on my list.
If you are reading this and are unfamiliar with what Shutterfest is exactly, it is a two day photography event in St. Louis that has been educating and providing networking opportunities for years. It is run by photographer Sal Cincotta, one of the top wedding photographers in St Louis.
This event brings together vendors, educators, photographers, models and hair/makeup artists to create and learn in a cohesive environment. There are tons of opportunities to learn in and out of the classroom settings, lots of side shooting, and chances to meet people in your industry from all over. The trade show floor also provides a chance to stock up on the newest gear, check out new systems and photo printing services, basically everything having to do with photography. There are tons of classes to choose from and they give a great hour to two hour preview of the speakers, which also allow you to see who you want to take future workshops from. I signed up for several classes and learned a lot and got a lot of great chances to practice the new techniques I learned.
To start off, I took a fitness lighting class by Steven Smith, who is the official photographer of the NPC-IFBB Midwest and photographs countless competitors and fitness models. http://www.Instagram.com/thenewmejourney
To start off, we used a strobe with a large soft box to do a hard side light and then we did some natural light as well.
I got to shoot two very talented fitness models Jodi and Jay.
It was really great to play with natural light for fitness shots. I always think of the lighting for these types of shots being very orchestrated, complicated setups, but for 2/3 of these photos, we just used ambient lighting.
Steve was also really helpful in talking about the different ways to use this. He goes to fitness competitions and shoots all these competitors and sells them the image of them on stage. He then uses that to market his shoots and get them book a fitness shoot while they are at their peak shape
that they have worked so hard for.
In the later afternoon, I took a class on dramatic boudoir lighting by James Schmelzer, which was really informative. James is a lighting expert and teaches workshops around the country on his techniques.
I got to shoot several models on different unique boudoir setups, here is a shot of Jenny Gee. There were several lights used, and one was shot through a modifier called a Cookie. (seen below)
They're not necessarily intended to shoot through, but I thought it was a different look to shoot through the cookie)This model, Jenny Gee had a great look for boudoir and this dramatic lighting. http//:www.instagram.com/_spiritual.sunshine
This lighting was also great for fashion shots as well as boudoir. It gave a really dramatic flare to an otherwise ordinary shot. The model Ana really had her fashion poses down.
On the second day, I got to hear the world renowned headshot photographer, Peter Hurley speak about the business of headshots and also show us a couple of lighting setups.This class was one that I really thought would be the most helpful at Spark art. He really got into the nitty gritty of how to run a headshot business. Peter talked about how he started out in a tiny space and really emphasized that anyone can do this. http://www.instagram.com/peter_hurley
He also stressed that the most important part of getting a good shot is being able to communicate effectively with your client and make them forget about the camera being there. Building a repoire and joking around to get them to loosen up can make all the difference in getting an amazing shot.
In the class about digital media optimization taught by digital media strategist Myrna Daramy. We talked about it's not just about search engine optimization, it's about creating an entire digital blueprint. Search engine optimization of your website is a key part of having your business listed high on Google and be seen by a larger audience. Websites are important in a business, but so is social media as well as in person referrals. Posting blogs and on social media, all linking to your site is very important to make sure that you are staying current and creating new content. All factors have to work together in order to be effective. http://www.instagram.com/myrnapdaramy
The last class I was in was Kerri Jean's Building your Creative Team class. Kerri has been published in hundreds of online and print publications and there is a reason she credits this to: a great team. (Of course her unique, creative vision and talent play a sizable factor). She talked about the process of finding those who can help to truly make the photoshoot extraordinary. Everyone from the makeup artist to the wardrobe stylist to the lighting assistant to the model to, and of course the photographer and retoucher each play an important and unique role to putting together a shoot that tells a story. Having an organized mood board in advance and really planning out what everything will look like makes a huge difference in a shoot, particularly when going for publications. It's great to shoot just for fun, but putting together a reliable team to help you as a photographer accomplish your vision can be the difference between a good and an extraordinary image.
Before I headed off to do some of my own side projects in St. Louis, I got to shoot this lovely model in the beautiful lobby of Union Station hotel. Bonnie is a great cosplay model and has so many awesome looks that she sports. She also runs an amazing nonprofit organization Courage and Kindness, where she and other girls dress up as princesses and do different charitable events and hospital visits. There are so many chances to shoot models at Shutterfest. Next year I may take more advantage of the "Rent a Human", where you can take a model out on your spare time in between classes.
Although exhausting, I had a blast at Shutterfest. It is so great getting to learn new things, getting the chance to practice them, and being able to network and get to know really amazing people. Some of my main takeaways from Shutterfest 2019 that I plan to implement in Spark Art Photo is definitely the headshot tips from Peter Hurley. Spark Art Photo is now officially part of the Peter Hurley Headshot crew and is listed on their website for Indianapolis. Another thing I plan to work on is our digital media presence on all ends. Spark Art is always working to improve and stay up on trends so that we can offer the best photography and customer service to our clients possible! Make sure you're also following our Instagram to see what we are posting! http://www.instagram.com/sparkartphoto
Be sure to check out the website for this amazing event and sign up for next year: https://shutterfest.com