This time, instead of in Beroun, our lighting workshop was in a legitimate studio apartment. Not a small living space- this was a combination apartment and lighting studio. Whoever rented this place to us for the day is extremely stylish and hip. Aside from having a full blown lighting studio in your pad, there was an upper loft with designer chairs, a surround sound stereo system with CDs encircled by rocks and twigs and wild decorations, there were decals on the doors, a cube espresso machine, and even a perfect view of David Cerny’s Meet Factory.
This lighting seminar was up to us; we (the photo kids) had to bring ideas, concepts, and lighting examples for Honza, our instructor, to guide us with. We had a model, a makeup artist, and a wardrobe. We brought photograph examples from David LaChapelle to Cecil Beaton. This was a full day of shooting, about 8 hours of learning and assisting with lights and cameras. If I have learned one thing about lighting, it would be that the only way to get better is to be constantly doing it. There is no way to learn it just from a lecture or textbook. Only hands on experience can help. This workshop was definitely an informative one. We did subtle portraits in front of the windows, (behind the scenes: in the pictures you can see our model looking down) we had our model sit on a rugged couch and then got silly with the shot- Bobi put her feet behind the couch so it looked eerie from the front (see dyptich photo). We even practiced lighting with smoke and a shoot with pizza.
Overall it was an extremely tiring day, but we all had fun and learned a lot.
Written by Max Jackson, CET Prague Photo Program Spring 2011, (Syracuse University)
Today all of the Photo students and I made our way out to Praha 5 on the 12 for a full day lighting seminar with our instructor Honza (Jon). The studio was nestled in a non descript building on the other side of a highway and train tracks and only one stop away from the “Meet Factory” a contemporary art venue.
Our fantastic program director, Kim, was also in attendance and brought with her the studio strobes she had recently purchased for the program. In this exercise CET hired a model and make-up artist to help us craft a wide variety of photographs. We showed Honza some examples of photographs whose lighting styles inspired us and then went from there.
The studio is a comfortable setting with large windows, a full kitchen, stereo and the standard accessories needed for studio photography. The first couple shots we employed were simple and used only natural light. We put our model facing one of the windows of the studio and used white reflector boards to fill the shadows with detail.
Honza is a master at lighting and helps us problem solve throughout the day. He turns our ideas into a reality by demonstrating to us how we can construct the look we desire with the use of the equipment available to us.
A little bit because I’m snap happy with my new camera, but mostly because taking wedding pictures seems like a popular and necessary job in China. What I mean is I might actually be able to find employment when I graduate if I consider wedding photography. I’m a film major and, considering that’s the second most useless major behind English, employment in anything would be welcome. Plus, it seems like there are perks to being a wedding photographer—you wear a cool leather jacket, shout at happy people, and permanently have cool hair. Well, it at least seems that way in China.
Let me back up—my mom came to visit this week (I know!! Soooo exciting) and we decided to go to Shanghai for the weekend. Shanghai is as international as they say it is. There are tons of foreigners and most people speak English—it’s a lot like New York, actually—people just hold hands more and walk wa-a-ay slower.
Anyway, we decided to do the Lonely Planet’s walking tour of the Bund. We were barely to number 4 on the list—the 1907 Garden Bridge—and we had already passed four couples getting wedding photos taken. It is possible they were just models, not marriage newbies but…let’s pretend they were real. As my father always says, never let the truth get in the way of a good story!
Seeing all those newly married/possibly fake couples made me think—not just about a potential job market, but about Chinese weddings and Chinese society in general. The couples on Garden Bridge seem to reflect the interesting paradox in modern China—the simultaneous existence of both old and new, of both history and modernity. Changes—too many or too few—are all anyone seems to talk about. Sometimes people like the change—an old man at a nearby park told me how much better China is these days than it used to be. He said he thought it would be even better in ten years, so I should come back then. Other people long for the past, and strongly believe that China is changing too quickly. Visitors at Huxueyan’s former residence, for example, told me that they loved the residence for its traditional Chinese architecture and wasn’t it such a pity that there weren’t more places like this.
It was as I was trying to surreptitiously take photos that all this came to mind. The couples posing for their wedding pictures against the historical Garden Bridge seem to perfectly manifest Chinese society today. There was the traditional architecture, the modern clothes, and—if the couples were models—capitalism as well. I couldn’t help but smile. When I grow up, I definitely want to be a wedding photographer.
Within the past week, the photography students have experienced two completely different lighting studios.
Over the weekend, we photo students took a train out to Beroun, a small city about a half hour outside of Prague. FAMU has a facility here for weekend workshop excursions. This place was crazy. It was like being in the empty hotel from the Shining! Around every corner I expected to see little twin girls in dresses standing at the end of the hallway…it was quite the experience. Aside from exploring the haunted building, we were here to learn some studio lighting and large format printing and photography. We used an 8×10 camera to shoot a portrait, we learned how to properly light glass objects for advertisements and still lives, and also printed a group photograph of us using a giant enlarger on a 4 foot piece of paper! In the pictures I have included, you can see a gigantic black and white print in a water bath from the darkroom workshop and also some outtakes from our studio lighting experience.
Just yesterday we had another lighting workshop, this time in a rented studio in Prague. A young photographer named Honza showed us various lighting techniques using a model, Sonja. This workshop was informative and fun! We even ended the day with a pivo (Czech for beer) at a pub down the road.