One Week Lighting Workshop With Stanley

Since 2006 I have been doing a one-week lighting workshop as part of the School of Photography program of YWAM with Dennis Fahringer in Kona, Hawaii.

This year I was asked by two of his former students to come to Dunham, Quebec, Canada, and teach the same thing, but this time to a school that will be in French and English.

This was their very first time leading a School of Photography for YWAM. The leaders Raphael Paquet and Julie Gavillet hosted me during the week and translated me into French.

We did four lighting assignments.


© Heidi Bergeron

The students were learning where to place the leading light for a starting position with portraits. They also were learning not to light everything evenly.

Students in class working on Rembrandt Lighting

1:3 Lighting Ratio

© Heidi Bergeron

Clamshell Lighting

To demonstrate the Clamshell/Butterfly lighting, I took everyone’s photo. Here are the three students.

Tent Lighting for Products

This is because some students work with the tent lighting setup to photograph products.

Table Top Photography
Lighting Setup: Table-top Product Photography

I also told about my journey in photography and how it took time before I got the assignments I wanted. I also taught them a little about how to make a living with Business Practices.

You may be interested in a Lighting Workshop. Drop me a line if you are interested.

No Setup Photos

The cry of all the focus groups when they review most educational recruiting pieces seems always to say they want natural-looking photos and not set up.

After spending the last forty-plus years as a photographer shooting pure photojournalism, where you capture what happens in front of the camera, to shooting for advertising pieces, where there are stylists arranging everything in a photo, my experience says most focus groups are asking the wrong questions.

Anderson University Campus Scenics

Do you like the photo?” is not as good of a question to see if the photo was successful as a question like “What did you learn from the photo?” You can even have a picture again on a questionnaire from your recruiting materials and ask, “Does the photo help you see what a typical dorm room looks like?” You could ask, “What could improve the photo to show you a dorm room?”

I have come to this place of evaluating photos because of my experience with indeed “real” photographs. I have spent many years shooting “photojournalism” for magazines, newspapers, and wire services. You do not change a thing in these photos and do everything you can to use composition, lens choices, lighting, and timing to communicate the mood and reality of a situation.

Often a photojournalist’s photos are not “pretty” pictures. Photographers will use their composition to create more conflict to add to the photo’s mood. Having a focus group evaluate war photos with the typical questions we ask, “Did you like the photos?” will give results that say the photographers were unsuccessful.

Anderson University Campus Scenics [NIKON D3, AF Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6D IF, Mode = Manual, ISO 200, 1/40, ƒ/22, (35mm = 90)]

How can you know the right moment to take a picture unless you have a relatively clear idea of what the subject means and what you are trying to accomplish? When you are interested in a topic, you want to learn more about it. So you dig below the surface values to the truth beneath. That way, you get to know it intimately and can photograph it understandingly.

Understanding does not necessarily mean a technical knowledge of the subject. Instead, understanding is interest, sympathy, curiosity, and the human element of the equation.

While photojournalism will give you “real” photos, sometimes reality for recruiting will keep your institution on the same path rather than where you would like to be.

Central Perk, set, from the tv show Friends

Getting the photos you need is where what I call “sitcom” photography works best. Of course, we all know the sitcom isn’t real, but it can create such a reality we are all tuning in to see “Who shot JR?”

Staging is the type of photography where the school has determined where they want to go and created communications pieces to help them attain the goal. For example, if you want to be more diverse in the future, you will need to show diversity. If you keep it real, you will research to find those situations where diversity exists. Then you would photograph those situations and play them prominently in your piece.

As one person said, “You don’t want to be the lone raisin in a bowl of milk.” If everyone works to help, the school will become more diverse.

Campus Scenic photos

As you can see, there are a few ways to communicate your message using photographs. Of course, the ideal scenario is to have “real” photos. If you had a photographer go to everything you did this year, you might get the reality you need.

Campus Scenic photos

Sometimes “reality” isn’t what you want to show—the student wearing another competing school’s T-Shirt. In addition, a student with significant overweight or skin problems can detract from the message. Avoiding these distractions is why so often we re-create reality like the sitcom. If properly planned, you will tune in and want to know more about your school.

Photographs are about light, mood, texture, form, and line. Methods by themselves are barren. To come alive with meaning, they must be employed interpretively. Getting a trained professional photographer with educational recruiting experience is where I come in. Give me a call, and let’s make your recruiting photos—REAL.

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