The LA (Santa Clarita) workshop was really fun, and I think the participants got a lot out of it.
Thomas and I worked hard to come up with a format that combined time for us to do a bit of lecture and discuss gear and our general approach, but which maximized the time everyone spent actually shooting. We felt strongly that a very hands-on approach that had the participants behind the camera, not us, would work best. I even traveled to Seattle on July 27th to conduct a "dress rehearsal" workshop (organized by Ron Kenny, a.k.a. captainronsphotos) and iron out the kinks. It paid off, as the Santa Clarita event went very smoothly.
Thanks to Larry Gasinski (Flickr: lgasinski) who contacted Lennar Homes, we had full use of two 3400 square foot model houses, side by side for the entire weekend. It was great; there was plenty of room for everyone and their gear.
We were very pleased to have both Scott Kelby (Scott did a post on the workshop) and Matt Kloskowski attend on Saturday. These guys are serious about their photography! They seemed to disappear during lunch, and eventually Thomas found them upstairs, still working on shooting the master bedroom. Also, we used both days of the workshop to film material for our upcoming DVD set, so in addition to 20 photographers, there was also Bill Millios and two video cameras adding to the general confusion! We're hoping that this will be in general release by late fall.
After introductions and running through the day's agenda, Thomas and I walked everyone through our gear bag, discussing everything from flash to light stands to lenses. Then we split into two groups of 10 each, and one group came with me to the other house while the other stayed with Thomas in the first one. Half of each group headed upstairs to work on lighting bedrooms and bathrooms (working in pairs), while the other half stayed downstairs and shot the living room, dining room, kitchen and family room, working their way up to more complex multi-room setups. Thomas and I demo'd a shot to start each group off right, and then we just stayed in contact, offering advice and helping troubleshoot each group as they worked through each shot.
I have to say, we saw some incredible photographs on the backs of the cameras, on both days! People were pulling off some amazingly tricky lighting setups, and they got great results. We were very impressed. At lunch we were fortunate to have Nik software demo their product Viveza. Thankfully Thomas brought some of his earlier images that needed some serious editing!
In the afternoon we went right back to shooting; all the participants switched houses so they would get time with both Thomas and I, and those who worked on bedrooms in the morning spent their afternoon with the larger downstairs rooms, and vice versa. Towards the end of the day, everyone gathered together again for a recap, Q&A, and a great group discussion about the business of interiors photography.
Oh, and we mustn't forget: the world of photography now has a new term for a flash lens flare artifact: it's called "a Grubba"!
With luck, we should be able to repeat this event soon in Baltimore, Chicago, points south and with some luck Australia. Stay tuned -- we're working hard to make these locations happen!!