Across the country, camera clubs and loose-knit groups of fellow photographers are putting together organized group shoots, where they’ll invite models and aspiring models, both male and female, and the photographers will take turns shooting the models throughout the event. It’s a great way to network with fellow photographers, scout models for upcoming projects, or just try out some techniques or equipment in a real-world environment. Usually there is a modest fee charged by the organizer, but often the events are totally free to attend. Sometimes the environment is somewhat uncivilized, as with the nature and beach shoots, and sometimes it may even include an actual studio.
What I like about these events is, I get to practice my “run & gun” techniques. Quite often, I’m walking into a location I’ve never seen before, so I have very little time to think about how I’m going to deal with the unfamiliar surroundings. It’s a challenge: you have to decide quickly how you want to deal with existing light, backgrounds (I never bring backdrops, I like to figure out how to adapt to what’s there), and models you’ve possibly never even seen before. Yesterday I attended an event that took place in a building that once served as an armory. It wasn’t an old building, so there was no real “character” to make use of. Much of our shooting took place in a big garage with a high ceiling, where the organizers brought in some motorcycles to use as props. Out of laziness or maybe just wanting to try something new, I set up my 4’x5′ softbox and put two speedlights inside it; and I decided to use nothing but that all day, no fill or anything else.
This photo was shot using that big softbox, looking right out the garage door into the bright sun. In the background was a garage where, just 15 minutes earlier, a crew of mechanics was working on some company trucks with heavy metal music cranked up. I shot some while they were there with the garage doors open, but I got this shot after they closed them, simplifying the background a bit. I don’t normally blow out backgrounds, but this time I decided to do it, and I kind of like the result.