Friday, June 20, 2014

Matt Granger's 'Take Control of the Light' Workshop

At the end of May, I had the opportunity to attend Matt Granger's "Take Control of the Light" workshop in New York City.

I live in Pittsburgh, and travelled to New York for the weekend to attend the workshop.  I lived there in the 90's, and it was really nice to be back for the weekend.  I flew in Friday afternoon, and left on Sunday night.  The workshop itself consisted of a social Friday night, and then the actual workshop that ran from 9:00am to 6:00pm both Saturday and Sunday.

Since I was flying Sunday night, I had to leave at 5:00pm on Sunday, but I think the free shooting time with the models extended past 6:00pm, so if you travel to one of the workshops, I recommend you fly on Monday rather than Sunday.

There were about 15 students, Matt Granger, and an assistant from NY that Matt knew.  Unfortunately Matt's assistant on his site, Tina, didn't make it to this workshop, so we did not get to meet her.  However, Matt's assistant Mos was great.  On Saturday we had 3 models and on Sunday we had 4 models.   Everyone from Matt, his assistant, the students and the models were all great to work with.

The workshop itself took place in a great space.  Its a photography studio / event space called Fitography Studio - 550 Broadway.  It even had full length windows looking out over Broadway.  You can learn more about this great space here.   Matt had the entire space rented out.

We had one main studio area, but there was enough space and lighting equipment to split into 3 or 4 groups during the many breakout sessions to try out the concepts that Matt was teaching.  The format is that Matt would speak about a concept for 30 min to an hour, and then we would have a breakout to  try out the concepts.  It was a great way to experience the concepts in action.

At the end of each day, Matt would give us free shooting sessions to try out different lighting concepts with the models and to try to hone our skills.  I took a few that at first I thought were going to be mistakes, but I ended up liking some of the darker lit photos:

On the second day, two of the models from the first day returned, and two new models joined that we were able to shoot during our exercises.

On the second day, we did an fun exercise where Matt asked us to show some photos from photographs that we liked the lighting on.  He then talked about how they likely lit the photo, and then asked us to perform an exercise where we tried to replicate the style of lighting.  

The photo I submitted was one from Joel Grimes, who has a very distinct look: Joel Grimes.

My attempt at replicating the look wasn't fully successful, but I learned a lot while trying.

What the workshop didn't focus much on was light modifiers and how different light modifiers affect your photos differently.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but given the name of the workshop being "Take Control of the Light", I assumed that there would be a focus on light modifiers (e.g. snoot vs. sofbox vs. gobo vs. octobox vs. beauty dish vs. ring light vs. bar doors, etc).   The overall workshop was heavy on the physics of light and how that impacts your photograph (in an easy to understand form).   And that is important, as after all, that is all a photograph is, is a recording of light.   And its important to have a strong base in that before worrying about one modifier vs another.

Overall, I think the workshop helped me better understand lighting and allowed me to hone my flash skills.  One thing that Matt did talk about during the workshop was his new video series of the same name: Take Control of the Light.  At the time of this writing, that is priced at $75 compared to the workshop cost of $700.  Matt provided the video series to us as a bonus for the workshop, and I have since watched the whole thing.

I highly recommend the video series.  It covers most of what we discussed at the workshop.  What it doesn't provide, is the interaction with Matt and other students where you work together in solving issues and gaining a better understanding in a way that a one way medium like a video series can't do.  I learned a ton from the other students.

However, if you have a good local photography club or Meetup group that allows for that interaction, then I would suggest buying the video series and skipping the workshop unless you want to ask Matt himself a lot of specific questions.  If you do not have access to other photographers in a format such as a Meetup group, then I would recommend the workshop over the video series (I think if you saw the video series first, and then attended the workshop, you may get frustrated by the repeat of material).

Overall a very fun weekend in a great city, with great people, and learning new things.  What more could you ask for?!?!

To see some additional photos from the workshop from me and the other students, you can check out the following Flickr group:

If you have any questions about the workshop, please post those in the comments section.

Thank you and happy shooting!

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