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Tim and cara's winter wedding at the ballroom at the ben

Justin & Mary Lighting Intensive Workshop

Back in October, I had the chance to attend a workshop hosted by two crazy talented photographers, Justin & Mary. When I first started in the industry, I’ve heard from a few fellow photographers that not only are Justin and Mary great photographers, but they are huge on giving back to the photography community — from that day forward, I’ve been a big fan of their work and passion.

Truth be told, I was afraid of my flash. And just like when I purchased my first professional camera, I thought that I could just mount my flash and fire away; clearly, praying and spraying is never the best approach. I bought my flash at the beginning of my photography business because… well… every wedding photographer had one. With my limited knowledge, I at most understood when shooting indoors, I needed more light other than that oh so charming ambient light.

Over time, I created a technique that worked for me — it was something I put together after hours of reading about flash photography in books, blogs and forums. Most places suggested using flash manually. So guess what? I learned how to control and shoot flash manually on camera! What I quickly learned was that I needed to constantly adjust my flash power. If I was too close to a subject using 1/4 of power, they were washed out. Or if the subject was in the background and something in the foreground, the mostly lit object was the one closest to me. The constant changing of my flash power and trying to ensure that there wasn’t any objects/person in the foreground was extremely frustrating. Another part of my technique was, I would shoot and adjust until the photo looked right, then move to a different angle to start the process over… And thus, inconsistency was added to my list of why I hate my flash

5 months ago, I didn’t like the look of flash. I preferred to use natural light in most occasions. Don’t get me wrong, I still do; I’m a natural light photographer and I love, love beautiful soft light. But what Justin and Mary’s Lighting Intensive workshop gave me was the confidence and knowledge to use my flash in any given situation. They showed me that flash photography can be JUST as beautiful as natural light photography.

At the start of the workshop, Justin said, “The work that we do matters”. Those words hit home. The reason why I decided to challenge and better myself this year is because the work that I do DO matters. I want to give my clients my all, and to do so, it was time to get over my fear of flash.

Some of the things I learned required me to go back to the basics, which sometimes I think as eager photographers we forget. Such as the direction of light, how to shape light, your camera, ISOs, and exposure. Flash is just another source of light that you need to learn how to shape. Throughout the workshop we learned to how to make flash feel natural, control the shape and direction, create dimension, and how to use off camera flash and a soft box.

Minus the fact that I was star stuck from meeting Justin and Mary, I came home that evening to an overwhelming feeling of excitement, eagerness and joy. After all, a small weight was lift off my shoulders. And I was even more excited to cross off another completed goal for 2014!

Now, my favorite part. Here are my favorite photos from the workshop! :) I am super proud of the photos below. It isn’t anything WOW worthy, but I did a happy dance when there was an even amount of light distributed to the foreground AND subject. I learned how to properly use my flash. :)

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Side story: When Justin and Mary’s models joined us toward the end of the workshop, I couldn’t stop looking at the two. Not only were they such a gorgeous couple but they looked crazy familiar. During the shoot I made every day conversations and shared corny jokes, until someone said, “Lauren, can you look this way?” That’s when it clicked… It was Lauren and Tim from Lauren Fair Photography. Then I died of embarrassment…

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These next 3 photos were taken with a soft box. I also learned the benefit of using continuous lighting. Le sigh…

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One of my favorite part of the workshop was meeting new people. If you’re like me, horrible with networking, workshops are one of the best places to make new connections! Shout outs to these lovely ladies who made the experience that much better, Ryan, Emily and Rhonda! xo!


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  1. tga says:

    have you started to use any of these techniques at your wedding? has it changed your business? booked more weddings because of? how did it change your work?



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