Learning from the Grand Master

February 08, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Last month I had the pleasure attending the Olympus Big Shoot Total Emersion Experience hosted by the Grand Master of fashion and portrait photography, Damian McGillicuddy. I am a firm believer that if you’re going to do something then do it well and if you’re going to learn something, learn it from the best. With accolades such as ‘...over 673 international awards, being the ONLY photographer to hold 5 UK Master Photographer of the Year Awards, along with 7 Society Photographer of the Year awards and is the only photographer in the world to be awarded a Grand Master Bar’, then Damian certainly fits the bill.

Damians work in fashion and glamour photography is simply stunning, so it is no wonder that Olympus have secured him as their principal photographer.  The opportunity to spend time working alongside the Damian, seeing first hand how he delivers his shoots, getting to understand his thinking, his methodology and the techniques he utilises to create his masterpieces. It is simply too good an opportunity to miss and one I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who is serious about improving their portrait photography.

Total Emersion is certainly an apt description of the experience, never have I learned so much about photography in such a relatively short time period, I have come away with my head brimming with new information and inspiration and I’ve now written up an abundance of notes. Pictured in this blog is a couple of my own images taken on the sets that were carefully crafted by Damian, he is certainly a perfectionist and has got his control of the scene down to a fine art. 

This Big Shoot Experience was hosted in the home of the renowned photographer Mel Grundy, Mel has retired now from professionally photography having worked predominantly in the pre-digital era when he was referred to as the ‘Calendar King’. The added bonus for us was the opportunity to chat with Mel about his experience as a leading international photographer and to view some of his work from stunning locations across the globe in his private gallery.

As Damian set up a series of on location shoots using various rooms in Mel’s home. He would start off by explaining the thinking behind the choice of each set, then he would go into the intricacies of his control of the lighting, utilising a combination of natural sunlight, household lighting and strobe techniques to set the mood for each shoot. We started off using a simple set up, utilising natural light to set a high key effect with the main light coming from a single strobe with a warming gel bounced off the high ceiling.

As we progressed through the location sets Damian added to the sophistication of his techniques finishing off with a multiple strobe set up with a strong combination of coloured gels to achieve a stunning look. Throughout the shoots I made full use of the opportunity to get hands on with each set and to learn and experience exactly how these were created. It was also encouraging to see that quite coincidently, Damian  was using exactly the same strobes and light meter that I have in my own set up, with an added bonus of allowing me to quickly embed these new techniques to improve my own style of photography.

I have already taken the opportunity to utilise this learning and I have to say that I am very pleased with the results, I won’t spoil the surprise but keep checking in here, these will be the feature of my next blog. Coming soon ...

 

 


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