Every photographer, at some point in their career, will have an internal debate to accept or decline a job because they may feel insecure about having the right skill sets or gear to complete the job. Personally, I have found myself accepting certain jobs and a few hours later, I wonder if I made a mistake in accepting the job since I may muck up a huge opportunity. A few days ago, I was offered a job that, at first, I did not think I could execute. Luckily though, I talked myself down the ledge and remembered I was in fact prepared for it.
As many of you are aware, I am a photographer who shoots primarily with natural light. The reason for this is because I oftentimes don't feel comfortable with strobes. The truth of the matter is, although I can handle using strobes, I never really put my mind to learning the techniques since I am such a fan of natural light. That is why I am always hesitant to accept jobs that require extensive use of strobes.
Because I am a writer for FStoppers, I was able to view Peter Hurley's latest DVD "Illuminating the Face" before it was released today. After watching it I was asked to comment on the the tutorial and, after the job I completed yesterday, I feel confident that my commentary will be constructive.
I was offered the opportunity to photograph a well-known architect in New York City. When I inquired about the details of the shoot, I disliked all three aspects of the job. I had to travel to NYC for this one job, they requested an artistic "studio style" portrait and the location was indoors in a small urban office. Although there may have been a moment or two of panic, I accepted the position. I had watched Peter Hurley's DVD a few nights in advanced to the job. The tutorial guides the viewer from simple to advanced setups, easy for all photographers of different setups.
Granted, this article is not a review of the film. Rather, it is a testament to the amount of knowledge that Peter Hurley conveys clearly and concisely throughout the film. By the time the DVD was over, I walked away with knowledge of so many different lighting setups using anywhere from one to twelve different strobes. I quite literally learned everything about strobe lighting from A to Z in an easy, efficient manner. Before watching the film, I never would have imagined that the setup I implemented in yesterday's shoot would work, and yet the one strobe and its reflector were more than enough. Using one of the techniques discussed in the tutorial, a piece of cardboard with shapes cut into it (it took me approximately 30 minutes to make it) a single strobe and a reflector were all I needed to shoot an image in a tiny, busy office. I was given fifteen minutes with the client to shoot a fantastic image. I fooled around with strobe and camera settings for about five minute and I used the remaining ten to shoot in raw and monochrome JPG images. Peter Hurley's tips enabled me to produce solid images that left the clients with a satisfying product.
Let me note that although I need more practice to really implement Hurley's techniques, any one witnessing me work with the client wasn't aware of my anxiety. I held my ground and was confident enough in my skill set to take the image. I also found that using a few skills that I learned from The Art Behind the Headshot was also crucial. I was able to keep the mood light by striking up a conversation with my subject and those around me to keep everyone laughing and talking.
Additionally, I am not one to generally watch a tutorial from beginning to end. Further, when I do listen to portions of a tutorial, it is generally playing on a second screen while I focus on retouching images or answering emails. When I first began to watch this DVD, I had the first chapter running on a second monitor while I was occupied by other things. But after about 10 minutes of the DVD playing, I kept getting drawn into it. I stopped whatever it was I was doing, and couldn't help but pay complete attention. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to watch the film because it prepared me to take a job I would have otherwise turned down.