Sara Lando: The Language of Photography (Pt. 2)

Part two; here we go.

Sara, prepping for the Sunday workshop.

Sara, prepping for the Sunday workshop.

Sunday: Beyond the Portrait

This was the workshop that I was most excited about. I love Sara's portraiture work and the concepts she comes up with. What fascinated me more though was how she approached this workshop. Most workshops that I have seen is some guy/girl photographing a person and then the attendees ask some questions and then everyone goes home.

Sara's workshop is a little different. She turns it on it's head. Again, it was divided into two parts. For the first session she spoke about her work and showed examples, from head shots to candid portraits, commercial portraits to reportage. She talked about "photography as a language" - what are you trying to say? Who are you talking to?  She spoke about light. Natural light, artificial and mixed. Lens choices and the difference focal length makes. Checklists, subjects, location, planning, gear etc. You get the idea, right? Moving along. Then she had two models who came in for the day that she photographed to show how she goes to work and her thought process during the shoot. She had doll heads and lace and dresses and I wondered what happens in her mind :) What did she have in store? Well, to find out you will have to go to her blog, coz I am certain it will be showing up there very soon.

Screen grab from Sara's twitter feed. This is Gigi. One of the models that Sara photographed on the day and Caleb's cousin.

Screen grab from Sara's twitter feed. This is Gigi. One of the models that Sara photographed on the day and Caleb's cousin.

The second session she turned the tables. Now the attendees would have to shoot the two models. A model picked a name from a hat and then that person came up and picked a random word - which would be the "theme" for the photo - and then picked another name which would be their partner for the shoot. That way everyone got paired up with someone else and their own word and they also assisted each other on the shoot. Each participant had 30 minutes with the model and then they would switch roles. After that they would leave the studio and the next team would come in to shoot and the teams outside also had to turn their cameras on each other and shoot portraits of their "team mate".

This made for a pretty interesting day and it was quite high pressure and I was happy not to be in that position myself, but it's definitely something I would like to try in the future.

After all the commotion it was time for critiques and Sara went through each person's photo as they explained the process and thought behind their shots. She was very attentive and gave great feedback on the work presented and I think every single person who attended came out of there having learnt something.

After the Saturday workshop I had expressed to Zack that I REALLY wanted to shoot a portrait of Sara, but I had NO f**king idea what I'd be getting myself into. He had the same idea and we decided that we would both do it on the coming Tuesday. We were both given an hour and a half and we weren't allowed to be at each other's shoot. Shit! Way to go man! So I had 2 days ahead of sleepless nights and worrying about what the hell I was going to do. How would I photograph Sara? How would I break the mold and use what I had learned? And to top it off? After my shoot with her, she was going to photograph me? Really? What the hell did I get myself into?

My final shot of Sara.. I wanted to pay homage to one of Sara's favorite photographers; Paulo Roversi. So I incorporated some "creepy" shadows in the background. I also just thought it fit well with her personality. Under the surface there's this mystique about her.

My final shot of Sara.. I wanted to pay homage to one of Sara's favorite photographers; Paulo Roversi. So I incorporated some "creepy" shadows in the background. I also just thought it fit well with her personality. Under the surface there's this mystique about her.

I tried the above portrait in both black & white and color, but ultimately the play between warm/cool of the color image won me over.

I tried the above portrait in both black & white and color, but ultimately the play between warm/cool of the color image won me over.

Here is the before and after image so you can get an idea of where I started and where I ended up.

Here is the before and after image so you can get an idea of where I started and where I ended up.

This wasn't my only idea for a photo though. This was my "safe" shot and I was terrified through it all. I babbled and I didn't make eye contact and I paced about, moving lights, scrims, flags, but never really connecting with Sara as a subject and boy did she let me know it afterward? ;) Haha.. But you know what? I wanted that. I needed to hear what I was doing wrong apart from the obvious stuff that I would kick myself for later. It's nice to hear nice things about your work, but that isn't going to make you grow. You need to hear about your mistakes, so that you can learn to fix them and I appreciated Sara's critique. (Something that I did learn though was the garment she was wearing around her neck for my photo used to be her grandmothers from the 40's, so that piece of clothing is 70 years old and I love hearing these stories and making that little connection and that's why I've fallen in love with portrait photography).

For my second shot I wanted to do something more conceptual. Something more hands-on and "messy". Using what I had learned at the workshops.

This is not the final image. I still want to bring it into the physical world and "destroy" it. Make it something other than what it is here. This by the way, completely happened by accident, coz I was not happy with where the image was going. Looking at this here. I am much happier than I was the day before. I remember sitting at the end of the day going; "what the hell am I doing?" and then the next day this happened :)

This is not the final image. I still want to bring it into the physical world and "destroy" it. Make it something other than what it is here. This by the way, completely happened by accident, coz I was not happy with where the image was going. Looking at this here. I am much happier than I was the day before. I remember sitting at the end of the day going; "what the hell am I doing?" and then the next day this happened :)

The before and after of my more conceptual shot. No idea what it might end up as, but for now this is what I've created and I like that it's kinda "uncomfortable". That's EXACTLY the idea.

The before and after of my more conceptual shot. No idea what it might end up as, but for now this is what I've created and I like that it's kinda "uncomfortable". That's EXACTLY the idea.

Afterward, Sara got her hands - and some paint - on me and erm... a weird piece of clothing, but you will have to go to her blog to see that :P

Another screen grab from Sara's twitter account. That's my first selfie with someone famous ;)

Another screen grab from Sara's twitter account. That's my first selfie with someone famous ;)

You can go check out the DEDPXL blog for my and Zack's shootout and who "won". For me it was an honor to photograph Sara and be shot by her and to shoot against Zack. I admire and respect them both a ton and it was a helluva learning curve, but I am so glad to have been a part of it.

Thanks for reading