A fun opportunity fell into my lap recently thanks to one of my co-workers and the Richmond Photography Meetup Group.

I’ve been wanting to try out this group for a while, thinking it would be fun to spend some time with other photography enthusiasts and maybe be given some interesting photo challenges. When I heard that the organizer had set up a deal where we could try out a workshop with live models that is usually a bit expensive for free, I was so excited! One of my biggest challenges is finding people to let me practice taking photos/portraits. So I quickly went to the site and signed up before all of the spots were filled up.

The workshop is from Digital Days sponsored by Popular Photography Magazine and Sony. Richmond Camera was also there for anyone who needed an extra accessory for the day. I skipped Saturday since it was listed as a basic training course in getting to know your camera and shooting. I just wanted to shoot some live models! So I got up super early on Sunday and made my way down there, found a good seat and settled in. Our teacher for the day was Mark Reis, and amazing Photo Journalist who has had many years experience and shared with us some of his great work everywhere from the Olympics to beautiful scenes in his backyard Colorado.

It was a bit tedious for me to sit through the first 2 and a half hour overview of manual settings and tips. There were a few helpful things I pulled form it, but I was so anxious to get to the hands on part I couldn’t take it! So finally they took us into a room with about 10 Studio setups with different backdrops, models and lighting. the challenge was to get the correct exposure and white balance for each setup without using a flash or tripod. Once I was in there, I loved every minute of it! At first I was a bit overwhelmed because I didn’t want to miss anything, and there was a bit of congestion with all of the people fighting for a good spot, but as I slowly made my way from station to station I got all that I needed. Although I could have definitely spent my entire day in there, it was great!

All of the models were wonderful, but the first girl below was probably my favorite of the day – Sonnie Slagle – she really knew how to move around and find interesting angles and work with the light. I had to force myself not to focus on her too much, but she was such a breeze to work with!

After the Studio shoots, they took us back into the classroom and did a little critique for anyone that wanted it. It was definitely interesting and lots of fun to see how different the images can be even though we are all standing in the same area.
After a review of some editing techniques, we were set free for the “Location Shoot” which was a bit of a free for all. Some of the instructors took models and put them in interesting places, setting up challenges for us, then we would break into random groups and just walk around and see what people have come up with. It was again a ton of fun! And we had no restrictions, so it made a lot more creativity come out.

I absolutely loved this willow tree and her hair and dress, everything, these are some of my favorite images!

And back to Sonnie again! I had lost track of her for a while, so when I saw a crowd of people around her in the courtyard, I just had to run over and get in some shots! I loved this whole look she had going on, very vintage vogue-ish, so fun!

Then I overhear something about a swimming pool with one of the instructors, so I joined that small group of people, very glad I did. This was a bit of a challenge with the poor lighting and weird colors at the indoor pool, but I made it work for me!
I was testing out a new lens, so at some point I wasted to get close up on some people, wet hair and eyelashes was the perfect time to do this! And luckily they were good sports about me being right up in their face! I’m happy with this result.

And lastly, this guy Nick was brave enough to let us have a little fun and dive into a only 4 foot deep pool! Luckily there were no injuries – to him or any of our cameras!

So I left the Digital Days workshop feeling very fulfilled, yet exhausted, it was a lot of work! And boy was it hot that day… I got home with tons and tons of images I love. It was an amazing opportunity to play around and practice what I love with really no limitations. So thank you to Popular Photography and the wonderful instructors and coordinators. They travel all around the country, I highly recommend this if you ever get the chance to try it out!