I feel very humble and fortunate to have been asked to speak at the Adobe “Photoshop and You” Experience last week in San Francisco. Adobe set up a “pop-up store” at 550 Sutter St., adjacent to Union Square, and filled it with all sorts of interactive programs. Participants could walk in, free of charge and have their photos retouched by Adobe experts, get lessons in Photoshop and Lightroom, and have dog-tags and t-shirts printed featuring their own photos. Although I've been featured on the Adobe website before in their Customer Showcase/Adobe Success Story section, this is the first time I had spoken at an Adobe event in person. I gave a slide show and presentation of my sports portrait photography on Monday, July 25. The event is ongoing through August 6, and will feature many other presentations by awesome photographers and educators like Corey Rich, Brad Mangin, Seth Resnick, Peter Krogh, Scott Kelby, and Glen Wexler. You can also meet photoshop developer gurus like (Dr.) Russell Brown, Russell Williams, Seetharaman Narayanan, and Winston Hendrickson. It was a bit intimidating showing my work and talking about my experience with Lightroom and Photoshop in front of the actual developers. After the show, I was showing some Lightroom tips to a friend of mine who attended the presentation, and I turned around to see Seetharaman watching us. I told him, “Wow, this is like Picasso watching a kindergarten kid finger-paint, right?”
Back in June, I had the good fortune to be invited to speak at the 50th annual University Photographers Association of America (UPAA) Symposium in Utah. The UPAA is comprised of photographers who work on staff for universities. I get a little more nervous when speaking to seasoned professionals rather than college students.
Brigham Young University was the host for this years' event, and two of my favorite photographers, Canon Explorer of Light Art Wolfe and Donald Miralle were also on the bill this year. Not bad company!
My portion began with a morning lecture on the BYU campus in Provo. After lunch, the convention moved three hours south, to Bryce Canyon National Park. Once there, my old Sporting News colleague August Miller, (who is now a Salt Lake City commercial photographer), and I scouted quickly for suitable locations for an evening lighting demonstration. We had to find locations that were attractive, but that could also accomodate 80 or so photographers. We chose to stay around Red Canyon, adjacent to Bryce Canyon because of the crowd.
Our hosts, BYU photographers Mark Philbrick and Jaren Wilkey arranged for a wonderful modern dancer to help us out by posing for our sunset demo.
I really enjoyed teaching at the workshop and meeting all the professional university photographers from all over the country and from as far away as Australia and Israel. Mark and Jaren put on a first class event.
I recently photographed Joel Osteen, a popular televangelist and the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas for the cover of USA Weekend. Lakewood Church is the largest congregation in the country, with over 43,000 worshippers attending every week. Osteen also writes books, including his New York Times Bestseller, Your Best Life Now.
Joel's wife, Victoria, is a co-pastor of the church. I photographed her previously for a health magazine cover story. I met Joel briefly during that shoot, when I asked them to join their kids on a trampoline at their home. They were really great sports. Both are both super nice people and great photographic subjects.
Lakewood renovated the 16,000 seat Compaq Center, the Houston Rockets former arena (known earlier as The Summit), and holds several church services there each week.
As part of the assignment, I was also assigned to shoot an actual church service at Lakewood, and this made for a great scouting trip. It was great being able to witness the service, watch Joel and Victoria's mannerisms, and study the lighting looks and locations available in the building for our portrait shoot later that week.
For the cover shot, we scouted an area in the church with a plain, warm wall (no need for a seamless this time), and set up one background light to create a gradient “glow” behind Osteen. We then lit him with two lights set up in a corner lighting pattern. Our warm background was changed to a bright purple in post (the story was running Easter weekend…). Before we finished, I turned off half of the corner setup and just used a boom light over his head. It made a dramatic photo that turned out to be my favorite frame from the shoot.
Though I knew it might not be simple enough for the cover, I knew it was important to try to capture the size of the church in some of the photos. We set up another very simple setup on the stage inside the auditorium of the church: a Plume Wafer 100 with a 30 degree Lighttools grid. I had the lighting guys from the church bring up the lights over the audience and turn on a follow spot for us, high in the catwalks. At first the spots weren't showing well, so we asked the lighting director to fog the room for about an hour before the shoot, so that the smoky haze would make the spotlight beams show up in the background.
It was interesting to be in the building again where I photographed so many Rockets games, including both their championship runs in 94 and 95. I spent many an hour hanging remote cameras and strobe packs on those same catwalks we were now using to light up a portrait of a preacher.