I first learned how to take portraits in a more formal style when I was a member of the Yateley Camera Club; a collection of photographers who met weekly in a room at the local comprehensive school to share tips and techniques, take part in monthly competitions and head out “into the wild” from time to time. Occasionally, the club would organize special studio sessions in the club room, when we’d photograph each other or gain the services of a volunteer model to learn how to light and how to interact with our subjects.
Many of the members of the club were acreddited members of the Royal Photographic Society, with levels ranging from licentiate right up to full fellowship, and I learned a great deal from them. After a long break, I returned to semi-formal portraiture a few years ago, when the Swiss Strobist group became popular and we began arranging meetings at which I could hark back to my YCC days: sharing my own experience whilst learning from others. The meetings over the past two years have becom extraordinarily popular, with over 40 people attending one of our days in Bern last summer.
This weekend, we’re taking a small group inside and using the techniques we’ve learned together in a studio environment for the first time. A dozen photographers and four models are going to be spending the day learning how to take the technique of using artificial illumination one step further, using full studio lighting instead of hand-held flash guns. I’m looking forward to getting back into the studio for the first time in a long time and seeing how the results of a shoot in an enclosed and comparatively plain environment will work out.