Lighting is key

May 21, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Effective lighting is one one of many factors that help create impact and drama in a good photograph.  Like many polished skills it takes a solid understanding of theory and plenty of practice to refine technique to develop a signature style.  


Thanks to his generous support for CTPPA I just spent 3 days attending a Doug Gordon Workshop at his studio in Lindenhurst, Long Island, NY as part of a scholarship prize he gifted for CT’s recent Print Competition.  Last week was a crazy time for me to go away in the midst of some massive personal and professional projects but I am pleased I invested the time to learn some new approaches.


Doug has taught in most states and many countries, has won multiple awards and last year he became a Nikon Ambassador so he knows his craft. While paying respect to fundamental lighting principles outlined by his teachers (including the late great Monte Zucker), Doug showed how he photographs for the current market.  With hands-on sessions in locations as diverse as the studio, the beach, a park or even transforming a blighted urban area into a woodland oasis, Doug showed us how  he creates stunning images quickly using “flow pose” techniques.  However, the most exciting aspect of the 3 days instruction was a portrait session with a fashion twist in Manhattan by the river at night.  I have walked those areas many times in the evening but never really known how to approach the mixed lighting scenarios so I really appreciate his clear instruction.  I can’t wait to experiment to create some new images using these tips.


In practical demonstrations with the help of fellow classmates and his staff as stunning models, I understood the essence of lighting and efficient artful posing in a way more meaningful than any book or virtual instruction can impart in isolation.  He shared efficient photo-editing practices that give his photos an edge, particularly the intimate boudoir images.  It’s not an easy location to get to and the studio is not fancy but I learnt some valuable lessons from a person who makes a profitable living for his busy team in a time where many traditional photography businesses are failing.


In my book, Doug is refreshingly candid and has a wicked sense of humor.  He’s quick to laugh or to make a risque comment to liven up the group or set a model at ease yet he is still very conscious of the need to be professional.  With a direct “no BS” manner, he doesn’t pretend to be perfect but he is proud of his honest approach to business, a welcome stance in an increasingly crowded industry.  


I feel I gained an insight into the man and what’s important: family, coaching baseball, running a viable business, and having a sense of personal vision in a changing world.  In that short time together I saw countless examples of a generous spirit that lurks beneath bluster and bravado.  Meet the man and form your own conclusion.


Perhaps I should confer an honorary Aussie citizenship as my way of saying thanks for offering me this chance to attend this illuminating workshop.



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