I never win anything.
Except that time I won a seat in a three-day workshop with one of the best children’s photographers in the world, award-winning Australian photographer Barb Uil of JinkyArt.
That’s a whole other story (and a good reason to follow me on Facebook, so you don’t miss those good stories as they pop up!). The story I want to tell you now is a story in pictures – the work we did under Barb’s skilled direction and inspiration, for three days on a little farm in Texas.
The first day we all arrived midday and into the afternoon, a dozen or so of us, and I got there just as the first shoot was beginning — a beautiful young woman in a boat on a small pond. Fog machine. Magic. We were encouraged to choose a word from a long list of varied and evocative words. What appealed to me was Solace. I directed the model so that I could tell a story of seeking quiet, finding equilibrium in solitude, shifting from a place of vulnerability to strength simply by gathering ones own internal forces and setting them free.
The second day held several shoots, starting with a simple lesson in making the most of interior light. Baby in vintage clothes, bubbles, antique bed. And window light with a reflector opposite. Simple, beautiful.
Midday, we went to the woods. You wouldn’t normally want to shoot in midday light, but we found areas where the light was softened or directed by the overhanging trees and brush. It helps to have an amazingly beautiful model, and I learned some really surprising techniques for adding dimension and texture to a photo, right in camera.
Late afternoon, back into the woods, to a wooden swing overhanging a pathway, lit by the setting sun.
A pixie if ever there was one, in a custom made skirt of pink feathers – all the conceptualization of our teacher, Barb. My pictures are nothing compared to what she created during this shoot, but they’re still fun and imaginative!
Day three began with a morning portrait shoot of our first evening’s lovely model. I really like how these portraits came out. I only had a few minutes on my own with her, and had a really clear idea what I wanted to capture. I love what she gave me.
Sooo, then things got super, super fun.
Baby calves???! I am not even kidding. And two of the cutest Texas boys you’ll ever dream of meeting.
In the afternoon, we again found woods and played some more with the amazing pink skirt from the first evening’s rowboat shoot. I call these The Conjurer, because I love the visual trick that makes it look as if the little girl is raising her skirts with her mind and a gesture, a little magician in the making.
Evening brought us another truly amazing opportunity – a curly-haired little girl in white and gold, and her trusty steed, and some amazing Texas sunlight, and twirling. And how she twirled.
As the Texas sun sank, we were all reluctant to stop shooting. Our models had drifted off to play, the light beckoned and we were in the zone. If the sun had decided not to set, we might all still be there now.
Two months later, I am still processing all that I learned. I have a wonderful thick notebook from Barb filled with her wisdom, technique, advice and examples of her breathtaking work.
My biggest takeaway, besides these photographs that I love, is the advice she gave me in our one-on-one portfolio review:
“Find the light and play with it. Find locations that inspire something new in you. Venture away from safety and take risks.”
So if you hear me saying, “Let’s try something…” a lot more this year, expect magic to be right around the corner.