Portrait Workshop & Sample Photos

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: May 10, 2010

Category: General

For those of you who have been reading the blog or maybe keeping up with all the latest ‘goings-on’ through Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that for some months now I’ve been running a series of ‘tester’ Workshops where I’ve been going through lighting techniques with groups of photographers with a view to getting feedback on my teaching style and content. These ‘testers’ have been invaluable as I’ve accumulated a mass of feedback that has really been helpful in giving me a clearer idea as to exactly what my new ‘Workshop’ should be about and what I should cover.

Having held a Workshop this past weekend in Amersham, Buckinghamshire; first in the studio and then out on location and also having spoken at length recently with Tim Wallace (April’s Guest Photographer) I’ve been thinking more and more about the importance of having a ‘unique’ style and ‘identity’ and reflecting this in my Workshops.

Not that I’m a control freak or typical Virgo or anything like that I do feel that I need to have a definite goal with the Workshops where the delegates attending will know beforehand the kind of photos they will be working on throughout the day. This reflects how I generally work on a day to day basis. I’m very much the kind of person who has to have a plan with a definite ‘end result’ in mind and this is what helps me to focus on what it is I’m looking to achieve rather than me moving quickly from one set up to the next and this is how I’d like to run my Workshop. What do you think?

What do you think about the idea of working on maybe 3 or 4 specific looks during the Workshop and exploiting them? Good or bad idea? What would you like to see covered if you were attending? If you have any suggestions / comments big or small I’d really like to ‘hear’ them so please feel free to use the comments section below.

Finally a BIG thank you to everyone who attended the ‘tester’ this past Saturday, especially Catherine our model for the afternoon who braved the elements without so much as a squeak 🙂

I’ll post up more images here on the blog in the next few days, but incidentally the images included in this post were all taken outdoors in the exact same spot as the Group photograph using my Invisible Black Backdrop technique.


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  1. Barbara

    Lovely portrait work. I am a HUGE fan of B&W. I love the first portrait; his look is so pensive and contemplative. I am very drawn to it. I want to know more about what he is thinking. Great shot! Absolutely lovely!
    Lighting is fantastic!
    I love the older gentleman portrait also. I love how the light enhances the silver in his hair and rim of his glasses and forehead. Lovely work!
    I am a fan!

    • Glyn

      @Barbara…Thank you so much for dropping by and taking the time to add a comment. i really appreciate your comments and it’s great to read that the photos give you a ‘feeling’ which I guess is what this is all about as Tim Wallace spoke about in his Guest Post.
      I’m thinking about putting together a post to show how the lighting is done for these particular shots…would that be useful?

      Thanks again for stopping by,
      All the best to you,
      Glyn 🙂

  2. John Shim

    So… when are you going to run a tester workshop in the US?! 🙂

    • Glyn

      @John…Bags are packed….just waiting for the invite…lol 🙂

  3. Noel

    I quite like the older gentleman portrait as well…

    • Glyn

      @Noel…The ‘Thinking Man’ 🙂

  4. David Kelly

    Hi Glyn. Glad to hear it all went ok at the weekend despite the elements!

    I love the simplicity of both these images and the control of the light – esp. how it falls off so rapidly to focus the eyes on the subject face. That combined with a mono conversion, really helps to give these portraits so much depth. I’ll definitely take a look at your suggested technique – it’s definitely something that I could make use of.
    (BTW How willingly did Noel & Neil take up the role models in front of the camera? ;-))

    The idea of working on several looks during the workshop sounds really good to me. As you may know Scott Kelby published a DVD, adapted from his Digital Photography books, which seems to approach things from a similar concept.

    I can only speak for myself but the idea of being walked through the lighting ‘ingredients’ and taught how (through following a ‘recipe’) to get an set end look, is excellent. It would give me the confidence to then go off and get that look consistently until I know how to achieve it with ease, which in turn gives me the building blocks from which I can begin to experiment and personalize a recipe with my own variance in ingredients. Maybe if you did decide to go down this route, as part of the workshop handout material you could have a set of recipe cards bulleting the ingredient & steps for that look with the obligatory picture of the end result? I like the idea of being able to carry some A5 recipe cards in my camera bag as a reference tools when out & about shooting but that’s probably because I’m a strobist rookie.

    Given my novice status, if I was attending (and you know I will) I would like a Lighting 101 session to talk through the equipment, practicalities etc which would lead into your examples of Look 1, Look 2 etc a discussion around their respective recipes. There could then be a practical session for attendees to have a good at testing the recipes (in pairs / groups?) and some time at the end for some post-production to finalise that look and debrief. Of course this is just my own view but as I’ve talked through to you already my goal in attending would be to come away having more confidence / knowledge / understanding re: strobist lighting through which I know I can achieve some practical end results.

    It’s always a bit difficult in such workshops given that you’re most likely dealing with a wide range of experience / inexperience, but if I could come aware from your workshop with that Ronseal feeling (“it does exactly what it says on the tin”) I’d be happy!



    • Glyn

      @David Kelly…David, thank you for such a helpful comment. I’ve replied a little later down this post to you but just to reiterate I love the idea of the Recipe Cards so I’ll definitely be looking at putting them together. Also I totally agree with the idea of focusing on 3 or maximum of 4 looks rather than doing one after the other after the other; I think that would only serve to do more harm than good.

      Thank you so much for your feedback/suggestions…it’s this kind of interaction that’s priceless and will go a long way to helping me put together the kind of workshop I can be proud of.

      You’re a star 🙂

  5. Keith Hammond

    Hi Glyn : you have a nice easy to understand way of teaching, which is much better than being bombarded with a load of techy info that may go straight over some peoples heads. As you say i think it’s a good idea to work on 3 or 4 looks and the students will know what they can end the day with. When it comes to post editing you may have to keep it simple because not everyone will have Photoshop or Lightroom.
    I really enjoyed the tester and i came away with this


    and a couple of others in my Flickr photostream, so i feel i achieved what you set out to teach me, what do you think Glyn ?
    I would also like to add my thanks to Catherine because it was very cold that day and i think she did a great job.
    I also like the picture of the older gentleman as well 🙂
    Regards Keith

    • Glyn

      @Keith…First off thank you so much for coming along to the ‘tester’ workshop on Saturday. It was great to finally meet you and if I’m honest it was the conversation we had in Starbucks during the break when the penny dropped and I really began to get a sense for how I want the workshop to develop; so a HUGE thank you for that. It was really encouraging too to hear that the way I explained how shutter speed and aperture are used to control the ambient and flash power was easy to understand (has to be for me…lol 🙂 )

      Your results speak volumes! Great job! Quick question….As I’m no doubt going to be putting together some more testers which will be focusing on 3 or 4 looks only and editing, would you be willing to come along? I’d love to hear what you have to say about the new content.

      Thanks once again Keith; as I said it was great to finally meet you…you’re a true gent and it’s clear to see why you’re so well liked!
      All the best,

      >I’ll pass on your thanks to Catherine and yeah, the old gent don’t look too bad does he :o)

  6. Mike

    Very soul searching kinda moment in that portrait. I have to say your B&W’s are just amazing Glyn – awesome work (as usual).

    I think you have to work to that rule of a certain amount of styles/looks otherwise the course itself will take forever to finish and probably confuse people with too much information. It has to be down to the individual to use the information gained from it and develop it further.

    • Glyn

      @Mike…Hey mate, thanks for the words.

      Yeah I tend to agree with you about the course content; feel alot happier now the ‘penny’ has dropped and I have more focus on what exactly I want to cover and how to put the workshop together.
      Cheers 🙂

  7. DaveT


    Having a definite aim (and objectives)is crucial to the success of your workshop. Not only does it give the potential client a clear idea of what they are signing up for. It also gives you a clear road map of what you should be doing to get yourself and the participant to the goal, and will help you to gauge the outcomes more successfully.

    One of the difficulties in running workshops is trying to cater for too wide an audience of ability. For some it could be way too simplistic and for others far too difficult. In which case you going to have someone who is unhappy.

    So in the design process of the workshop, it might be worth considering what level of knowledge/skill the participant is expected to have. For example knowing the relationship between shutter speed/aperture/ISO and how they interact with each other is going to really help with using flash in manual mode.

    Also, someone may be proficient with camera skills, but totally at sea with post processing, or vice versa.

    One answer to overcome that may be adopting a modular approach where the modules are separated by different levels of complexity.

    Good to see that you are really giving this some consideration – some people run workshops without any real planning. Believe me when I tell you that all your preparation is going to benefit you in the long run.

    Oh, I too like the idea of the recipe cards.


    • Glyn

      @DaveT…I totally agree with your thoughts about the workshops and being careful as to who they are catering for ie beginner, amateur, pro etc…
      To be honest at this stage my thoughts are to work with those people who have an understanding of their cameras and are already taking some nice shots but want to move on to ‘off camera’ lighting.
      Not wanting to run before I walk, I will be having 3/4 looks that we’ll work on throughout the day including post production etc so that those attending are clear on what the objective of the workshop is ie By the end of the day you will be able to achieve ‘X’

      There are so many workshops out there and I’m sure we’ve all been on them where they seem a little flat and without focus, but there are those too that I’ve been lucky enough to go on with Zack Arias, Joe McNally that are just phenomenal. I think too many people rush into doing workshops and my own feeling is that if I want this to work I need to do my ‘homework’; then and only then will I be happy to ‘go live’.

      Exciting times ahead 🙂

  8. kelley

    Love the B&W! Love the image of the “crew” although I have to admit a bit of lens envy. I too would like to know when your “tester” in the US will be happening???

    My Fave, is the image of the “older gentleman” definitely a keeper!

    But Glyn, I think you said something about the word Virgo- Uht Oh! Actually, I think that would be something else we have in common. I’m so sorry.

    Keep up the good work, how wonderful and what a treat for all who can go!

    • Glyn

      @Kelley…Hi Kelley, thanks for stopping by 🙂
      Just the thought of coming over to the US in the future to do a few Workshops is amazing; definitely a dream which needs to come true 🙂

      Oh by the way, I had lunch with the ‘older gentleman’ today and he said to say ‘hi’ 🙂


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