Friday, November 17, 2006

A Long Week

This has been one of the toughest weeks of my life. A couple of weeks ago, I had a stomach bug. That got better and then I caught a chest cold that became apparent to me last Friday. This week I was teaching an intensive course on lighting and decided to lay low over the weekend. I more or less stayed home over last weekend, coughing a bit in the early morning. It was a cold and physically did not feel too bad. But one weekend was not good enough to finish it. Monday was prep day for the course, called Portraits as Visual Drama. The course lasted for 4 days, from Tuesday to today Friday. The first two days were lectures and practical sessions in my studio. The third day was a practical session at MOX. And we had a day of photoshop today. I hardly got any sleep at night this week. Everytime I had slept for a couple of hours, a deep chested cough would wake me up. And even with the able assist of 3 assistants to do the heavy lifting on course, having to give 3 hour lectures with a lungs that felt like they had been sandpapered was tough. There were points today when all I could manage was a squeak.

I wonder if I should have cancelled or postponed the course on Monday. But nine students had signed up, MOX was booked, and Cathay was loaning us equipment for the course. I did not think that not carrying on the course was an option.

Although I have taught basic studio photography before, this was my first intensive. I was pretty pleased with the way the first three days went. On the first day I taught the class basic studio lighting. On the second day I introduced them to advanced techniques like portable lighting, using nets and flags and using an LCD projector to create textures. I even rented a smoke machine and a mirror ball to increase their fun. Then we went to MOX for them to try out lighting in an actual environment. I think it was a real challenge for the students, but in a good way. The students did appreciate the assistants knowledge and help. Thanks, Betty, Anvin and Mark. You three rocked.

I had prepared notes for the photoshop day and knew what I wanted to teach. But there were so many technical hiccups and flaws in my teaching methodology. The first thing was that I asked my students to shoot in RAW. And the Adobe Camera Raw could not open some of the newer raw files. Then the colour of the projectors was not good enough for me to illustrate certain things, like how to reduce the redness in skin. And I tried to introduce my students to the newest digital workflow, including working in Prophoto RGB. I know that in America, the pro photographers are being converted to this workspace, but it may have been overkill for this course.

Anyway, it was an action packed course and I really put my students through a grinder. But they seem to have liked it. There were some amazing shots from my studio that I had never done. Cool. And at MOX, we had some actors and actresses from Fly entertainment to model for the students. And I also got a couple of dancers from The Arts Fission Company. I think the students really loved the dancers Scarlet and Bobby. I think I probably have a few converts to the art of shooting dancers. :)

I also taught them my ideas on the methods of translating a vision into an image. I know that things like this are taught in art school, but photographers rarely talk about it. Photographers seem to be either tech geeks or inspired artists. But I truly believe that having an idea of the elements of translating an idea into an image, will speed up the process.

So the entire course was done and people had a good time in general. I just feel like my lungs were put through the meat grinder a couple of times... But the next time I conduct this course, I hope that I will be well, and I will be more organised in lecturing Photoshop!!


Anonymous said...


take care of yrself dude. great that the course worked out alright!

Anonymous said...

it's wes btw. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I loved the course and I have been ranting to anyone who will listen about how much I learned from you and Anvin, Mark and Betty.
You guys were so helpful and all full of great advice.
I'm so sorry that you felt so ill, I hope you feel better soon.
Keep cosy, get some hugs and have a whisky, you'll be right as rain in no time.