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Summary of Lighting Seminar

So, yesterday, I went to a lighting seminar presented by Holly Randall. She's an adult photographer--which I am not interested in being, though I'm not a prude--but since she takes photos of people on a full-time basis, her knowledge of lighting (models) is applicable to the fashion and portrait photography I like to do.

This seminar was presented as part of Glamourcon, a small convention that takes place twice a year in Chicago and Los Angeles. Based on the descriptions provided on the website, I thought it would be a mix of bikini models, classic pin-ups, and Playboy types, an event where photographers and model scouts mix with the girls. However, when I got there, I quickly realized it's more accurately a ballroom full of pornstars who allow average-joe pervs to bring their cameras in and freely ogle. I would've felt completely out of place in that room, so I was relieved to find that seminars and other presentations were in a different area of the hotel... I didn't even have to walk through the Grope Zone. (Yay. Thank you.)

To this point, I've done a few indoor shoots but am definitely more comfortable with natural light. I'd like to get better about automatically knowing how to light a model in studio (and what equipment is required/preferred), and some of what I learned yesterday will help.

Holly showed us two lighting set-ups she uses. I really wish there had been at least a couple more set-ups and in-depth technical explanation of the equipment--why it is used, how it is powered, etc. The seating arrangement was kind of strange for about half of the audience, who had to strain to see the set-up, and at one point, stand up and move to see what was happening (although it might've been an excuse for them to get a close-up view of the lingerie model).

One interesting thing was that I was in two minorities: It seemed like a large percentage of the people there were "dirty old men" hanging around for a glimpse of a hot girl in a bra and panties, rather than actual photographers; in addition, there was only one other woman present. This didn't intimidate me, but definitely made me appreciate what Holly probably has to deal with on a daily basis. She was great at handling the guys.

That said, I found the seminar to be a great value. It wasn't very expensive (on the contrary, it was cheap), and there was enough going on that truly inquisitive photogs like me could learn some stuff, while the perv set could enjoy the experience (with their hands in their pockets, ahem) too.

We learned toward the end that this was Holly's first seminar, so I think she did a fine job with that disclaimer. I'd definitely go to another seminar if she held one, since she's bound only to get better. The best, though, would be if she offered a "tag-along" package where someone like me could pay a fee to sit around a set for a day and observe. That would be the best way to learn.

I generally get a little apprehensive about going to classes or workshops by myself, and I have always been this way. I remember signing up for a series of tennis lessons when I was a kid, and the first day, I hid behind a tree and watched for at least ten minutes before working up the nerve to join the group. There's some residual stand-behind-the-tree-and-talk-yourself-into-not-chickening-out left in me, but having gone to this means the next photo workshop will be a little easier. I'm always worried that I won't be good enough, that someone (the teacher, a fellow student) will pick me out as the fraud who doesn't belong there... but that's never actually happened. For now, I'm looking forward to the next one. Thanks, Holly!