Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Welshot - Snapshot Day, Liverpool - April 15th 2012

On Sunday 15th April 2012 the Welshot Imaging Photographic Academy held a "Snapshot" day to launch the Academy in Liverpool. The event was opened by Will Cheung FRPS, Editor of Advanced Photographer Magazine. Lee Iggulden and Eifion Williams are the driving force behind Welshot and their continued drive, enthusiasm and ambition is an inspiration to all.

As an existing Academy Member I was lucky enough to be asked to help out on the day. I jumped at the chance and thought I'd share my experience here;

I missed the actual start of the Snapshot Day so cannot comment too much on the opening words from Will Cheung FRPS or the session lead by Zoe Richards of Zoe Photography about how to pose your model. However, I do know that Will and Lee would have got everyone fired up for a fun filled day from the moment they arrived. I also know from experience that Zoe would have shared some really useful advice and prepared everyone for the first modules. In fact, I did hear several comments throughout the day about how good Zoe's first session was.

I joined my group on the waterfront in front of the Liver Building where delegates where being put through their creative paces by John Arnold. A variety of techniques were being put to good use and people where certainly being made to think about what they were capturing. I spoke to a few members of the group and they all seemed to be having a good time and picking up useful tips along the way. They were a great bunch and everyone was pitching in with ideas, questions and comments.

Next we were off to the steps of the Cunard Building where Radha was braving the bitterly cold wind while Will Cheung showed us how to photograph her with off-camera flash (Will had a nice warm coat on by the way). Obviously Welshot cannot guarantee the weather but that's all part of the learning experience, you have to deal with what you have and make the most of it. Bright sunshine and freezing wind is not an ideal combination but Will explained how to deal with those sorts of situations.

The group I was with included people of varying experience and it was good to hear advice being shared between the group as well as from Will. This wasn't just about people taking a load of photo's, every delegate was told which settings to use - and why. They were also asking lots of questions about off-camera flash, what to use, when to use it, etc, etc.

The groups moved around a couple of times so we also got to work with Hazel and Beth. Academy Member Tim Charlesworth ensured everything ran like clockwork so delegates got as much time as possible using their cameras. We used off-camera flash again with Beth but opted for natural light and reflectors with Hazel. Again we were adapting to our environment and making best use of the equipment to hand. So, having changeable weather (cloudy/sunny/cloudy/windy/sunny etc) is a must when you are learning because it is never how the text book says it is.

Before the models turned into frozen statues we packed up and headed back to base for some lunch and a well earned drink. The models did a fantastic job in the freezing cold for 3 hours without complaining...troopers all of them.

The atmosphere back in the hotel was very relaxed and although there was all sorts of planning and preparation going on behind the scenes it was kept well hidden and the delegates were left to mix and mingle sharing stories from the morning sessions. Everyone seemed to be getting involved and were keen to get started on the afternoon.

I was working with Welshot Team leader Paul Smith and Will Cheung FRPS helping out with the Studio set-ups. During the morning I moved around with the same group of people whereas in the afternoon I stayed in the same place and so got to meet the rest of the delegates as they passed through.  

The Studio set-ups where quite daunting to anyone not familiar with them but Will gave an introduction to each group explaining how everything worked. Each delegate then got some one-to-one time with Will and Paul learning what settings to use and how to get different effects. There is a huge amount to learn when it comes to studio lighting which is why Welshot will be running a "Lighting Academy" in the near future, be sure to check the website for details.

In between Studio lighting work the delegates were also photographing still life which on this occasion was food photography. Welshot Maestro Eifion and Team Leader Peter Hudson were on hand to show delegates various techniques for capturing food & drink. Delegates also got a demonstration of lighting gear from Lastolite where a variety of products were on display.

The next sessions were ran at the same time so delegates had to decide on either a "Lightroom - Benefits of upgrading from v3 to v4" module with John Arnold or a "Life lessons for the Working Professional" with Zoe Richards. I didn't count but it looked like a pretty even split between the two. Both sessions were very informative and interactive with delegates getting involved, asking questions etc. As with all of the modules on the day they provide a "snapshot" of the subject. Welshot run specific modules ranging from Academy evenings to 1-day, 2-day and 5-day workshops on a variety of subjects.

Finally everyone re-grouped in the main room and Lee gave a quick talk on how Academy Members work can be sold and how it is marketed by Welshot. That was followed by a presentation from Will Cheung covering how to get work published in magazines. This was very informative and generated lots of questions.

Then to round off the day there were a few thank-you's for the people who arranged and ran the day as well as some raffle prizes including huge discounts off workshops and magazine subscriptions.

I'm really sorry for the length of this review but if you got this far it was worth it. I certainly enjoyed the day and as with all Welshot events I did learn quite a few things and met lots of great people.