This weekend we have a full photography course. I don’t think we’ve had many in the past few years. Prior to the course the models are organized and the locations arranged. We are able to use either of the two Anglican churches in the village and English Heritage allow us to use the Abbey on Southampton Water. One of the churches is Victorian and the other Medieval so we are particularly lucky.
The models are usually students. They have to be very patient as the course participants are often slow and they have to be hardy because part of the course takes place outside and wearing a bridal dress in January while people take ages looking at the back of their cameras, demands a certain stoicism.
On the Friday Ray has to blend the group together. They may have travelled a long way as they come from all over Europe, they may be a little shy, they will not all know their way round their own equipment and they will all be at different levels of attainment. On the first day they work in the studio learning about lighting and classical lighting patterns for portraiture. They learn about facial analysis to portray their sitters to advantage and they see demonstrations of lighting patterns and set up their own. In the afternoon they take photographs of models to put what they have learned into practice and also to build up their portfolios.
Each day we go to a local 15th Century pub for lunch and that is an opportunity for the group to relax. On Saturday the students learn about the equipment needed for a wedding shoot. Often their cameras are too complicated and can easily be switched to the wrong setting. They are not always robust enough for cold or wet weather so Ray has to be very patient in advising them about simple, robust equipment that they should buy when they have established themselves in business. I sort out all the wedding dresses, flowers, veils etc. and we have to have enough to suit the various sizes of our models.
Wedding shoots take longer now with digital cameras as the students rely very heavily on looking into the back of the cameras after each shot and on Photoshop to correct their mistakes. Film users usually have their photographic knowledge in their head and try to get the shot right in the camera rather than spending hours rectifying later. But that is a generalisation and some digital camera users are very talented.
On Sunday there is another environmental shoot this time at the Abbey and in the afternoon they look at the business side. So many course participants are not only wanting to improve their photography, but also to change direction either part or full-time. Over the three days a good atmosphere develops and many remain in touch not only with us but with each other. On Sunday night we are both tired, particularly Raymond, of course, but usually well pleased.