Whilst wondering around the Photography Show in Birmingham this year I came across a speaker who was demonstrating some portrait lighting setups which I really liked, so I made a note of his name and later found him on social media.
It turned out to be Tommy Reynolds and looking over his work and watching his travel videos, I immediately liked what he was doing and thought he would be a good person to continue my own development with. Whilst I do a lot of photography training for other people myself, I am always looking to continue my own development and learn from people who’s work and philosophies I respect.
I contacted Tommy and arranged to do a day of 1-1 training with him, in particular I wanted him to show me how he was doing location lighting as this really stood out in his work for me, it just looked so natural.
Upon arriving Tommy immediately made me feel at home, you can see why his YouTube videos are so popular, he is a really nice, genuine guy with an outgoing personality. We spent the first couple of hours just chatting about his work, he showed me a few of his videos and talked about his travels.
After a quick look at the lighting equipment I had bought with me, we we’re joined by Tommy’s friend and our model for the day, Sarah Jane Hulyer. After a few brief “hello’s” we jumped into Tommy’s studio and he demonstrated a few basic studio lighting setups he uses which were interesting, but i’ll be honest and say I really wanted to get onto the location lighting setups which I’d requested was the theme for the day, so I politely declined the opportunity to shoot in his studio and suggested we maybe head outside.
We got straight in the car and headed to Tommy’s local town where he and Sarah decided they were hungry and wanted lunch, so after some deliberation we ended up in a Weatherspoons. It would probably have been rude of me to suggest we skip lunch and get to the photography training, so as the clock ticked over to 2.30pm (I’d been there since 10am) and I realized we’d not yet even covered location lighting, I began to lose a little heart.
It get’s better from here, we did get to the location lighting and I did learn something which I’ve implemented on shoots since to great effect and I will discuss this in a minute, but I can’t skip over the fact that 4 1/2 hours of paid training in we hadn’t touched the subject I’d asked to be taught. I’ve been to a few workshops and training sessions like this now where everything seems so stretched out, almost to the point it is painful. I know I’m a direct and to the point person, but I just couldn’t run my own training like this, I’d have a gross feeling that people wouldn’t be getting what they paid for.
Anyway, I digress. After lunch we wondered around town and Tommy showed me how he does location lighting in various different setups. He uses the same lighting setup every single time and it does indeed look very natural. This is what I wanted, we practiced it a few times and whilst it was clear he didn’t really know where we were going and was making it up a bit as we went along, I was learning something and my impatience with the day was subsiding a little. The image above was taken in a cafe Tommy blagged his way into, by itself it doesn’t do a lot for me but it was the best setup we did in the 2 hours and was a good situation to practice the location lighting.
So how do I conclude this? I left the day’s training relatively happy, I knew I’d learn’t something new that would improve my photography and that I’d use going forward, so that box was well and truly ticked. I was disappointed that out of 7 hours paid training, only 2 hours of it was spent practicing the subject I’d asked to be covered directly. I almost wish he’d have said to me “Paul, I can cover how I do location lighting in 2 hours, let’s not waste a day on it my friend” and I think I’d have respected that stance a lot more.
This isn’t a complaint though as we all work differently and I know this. In the context of my photography career it was £350.00 and a day of my time well spent because I walk away with some new, practical, usable knowledge. In a year where I’ve strived to improve my own work by learning from others, that is invaluable to me.