This training event hosted by Holly Gordon Photography ( on site at her studio was a very impressive training and image creation opportunity. It was called “shooting outside the box”. There were several well known photographers training the participants – John Farrar ( from the UK and Anthony Neste ( from Florida and Mike Luter ( a local studio owner and trainer also from Florida. Mike owns Desktop Darkroom – probably the only camera store around that can service pros in Jacksonville. Holly calls the instruction mentoring – I needed some whipping into shape. Actually no kidding, some of my images were pretty great!

There were a number of wonderful models, some great makeup artists and really attractive and varied wardrobe and sets as well. The weather was great and that was good as a lot of the shoot was outside.

We gathered Friday evening to meet each other and to go through portfolios with John and Anthony. What a wonderful thing just in itself – they were each so open and sharing with their thoughts and knowledge – then and throughout the weekend. To see all of the best images that John took and to hear him speak about it, finding the materials for his models and coming to his vision – to hear and see the images that Anthony took over the years as a SI photographer and to hear about walking into the icehouse, putting a set together and shooting “the iceman” – the inside story – this is not an everyday occurrence. I hear the tequila shots were pretty impressive as well – Holly should know – I restrained myself.
Saturday the shooting and instruction began and we spent time with both mentors – ‘ get the perspective right Michael – that is your job – yes I have heard it before – so why is it so hard to do – I know what to do – now I just need to do it.’ “Just” is a tricky word here of course and no one said it would be easy, maybe after 25 or 30 years these guys know something. Very helpful – somewhat humbling, a strong learning experience.

We were able to shoot Autumn, Makayla, Chelsea and Heidi on Saturday with makeup from Paulina Perez and Lia Hanson. We spent a lot of time outdoors with Anthony working in outdoor light, diffusers, positioning both the models and the photographers, getting the equipment right, getting the light right and eventually getting the spray out of the hose right on the umbrella! John spent his time inside with us in the studio - he has a really interesting philosophy about material, shooting, positioning and lighting. We were able to see it, try it, manipulate it and I have got to admit the guys who copied his style and camera positions did better, made better images than some of the more “freeform” photographers amongst us. Guilty again! Maybe after 25 or 30 years these guys know something – where have I heard that before?

I made some wonderful images and will give individual credits on each image in the gallery. There was a lot to do, I didn’t do every shoot.

Sunday we spent time in the morning with Mike – all of us learning about speedlights and high speed flash. Here is a money making opportunity for someone – decipher the mess made by Nikon and Cannon, interpret it into comprehensible language – preferably in English but who cares as there are translation services available. Then get a credible company like Paul Buff or someone to make equipment that will work properly with the lights, without radio interference and dependably – and explain it. Yes I know Pocket Wizard is trying – but there is still the comprehension thing. It is almost as if the manufacturers do not want it to make sense – heck maybe it doesn’t and it is a coverup – never thought of that!

The afternoon was an open shoot – Holly brought in snakes and a handler – the famous pythons from Egypt – one bite from them is instant death, the sand viper – a Caribbean island tree snake who makes you die in agony as the flesh drips off of your body – tricked you – actually there were three boa constrictors, a wonderful handler and a number of the models who allowed the snakes to crawl around their necks and cleavage. To be a snake is not such a bad thing I guess.

Set design was fluid - there were three sets outdoors, a pool to shoot in and around, and the studio and house in general inside. I shot everywhere I think – even got some stuff in Holly’s bedroom. Again on the images I post I will do individual credits. The mentors were there, the models from Saturday, an additional makeup artist - Annamaria Aurora Abad was there to work with the models. There were some new modes – Ekaterina, Kristine, and Crystal – please let me know if I missed someone.

Everyone had a good time and looks forward to another session – I hear other sessions are in the works.
HGP Wksp - My FavoritesHGP Wksp images