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GPP 2016

It’s that time of the year!

Well, technically it isn’t. Because GPP is usually in March, but this year it was in February. I didn’t take as many classes as I normally do, but the ones I did take were absolutely amazing. Not that I would expect anything less from Sara Lando. I did two of her workshops, Adventures in Expressive Portraiture, and Mixed Media.

The event started off with PhotoFriday – a day full of seminars and lectures. I got to attend Peter Hurley’s Main Moves for Portraits. Peter’s work is awesome. It’s definitely not something I would do, the whole polished and sharp headshots. But it was very interesting. Also, how does he have so much energy?! I was sitting there thinking “dude.. slow down!”
The second seminar I attended was Tamara Lackey’s Top 10 Tips for Dynamic Portraits. Tamara is a sweetheart! I got to meet her last October at Brooke Shaden’s Promoting Passion convention. She just has such a kind heart.
I ended up skipping the third seminar of the day because I wasn’t feeling well. I was either high on caffeine, or not enough sleep. Or both. But I went back for the third seminar, Sara Lando’s Behind The Portrait.

I was super excited for the portraits workshop. I knew it was going to be challenging, and intimidating, but it was so much fun. I was also slightly intimidated because Issa took the workshop with me, and he’s an amazing photographer.
On the first day, Sara started with a presentation on how photography is a language and about the importance of learning the grammar before attempting to write a novel. According to Sara, “pictures with too much stuff are like run-on sentences”. She also demoed different techniques like painting with light and playing with long exposure and movement. I couldn’t wait to try it myself.
Then we went on location – we went to a parking lot and got to watch Sara photograph the models while explaining her process and her concept and all. And I took some behind the scenes pictures!

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sara explaining how grids work

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Then on the second day of the workshop, we went to a different location. Sara divided us into groups and each group had to create a series of images. Each person in the group was assigned one image – an opening shot, a medium shot, a portrait, detail or closeup, and a closing shot. The selection was random, and I got portrait! Yay! We also had three models and were alternating between them, and I got to work with Samantha Tring. Samantha modelled for Sara last year and I’ve wanted to work with her since, but never got a chance to. These are some of the portraits I took:

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When we were done, we went back to class and got to work with different models and experiment with light. We were divided into groups of two, and I ended up with Issa (randomly!). I was dying to try light painting, but when I saw the model I was going to work with, I had an idea for a long exposure shot – which didn’t work, but I still got to play! Frederica had really red hair, and it was done in such a messy way that I instantly started thinking: fire, anger, and power. This the shot I ended up with that I thought worked well with those words:

But I had a little bit of extra time, so I played around some more and ended up with another shot that I really liked:

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This picture is so different from what I normally shoot, or like, but I’m so happy with it and it made me want to experiment more and try things I wouldn’t normally do.

 While others were working with models, Sara asked us to shoot portraits of our partners. If you know me, you know I don’t shoot guys. I was nervous. And I didn’t end up with a “real” portrait, I think I would consider the pictures I took just.. snapshots.

Theeeen I had Mixed Media! And I was so excited about that workshop not only because I wanted to do it last year but couldn’t, but also because my sister was coming with me! She’s my best friend, and I don’t get to spend much time with her because of our different schedules – she’s a med student (yes, I am slightly intimidated by my little sister, shush). I felt like I was bringing her into my world and it was just so much fun.

Sara explained her process, or lack of. It’s all about playing and experimenting and setting things on fire. With adult supervision! Oh wait, never mind. We were all adults in there.
Anyway – mixed media was a one day workshop, so after Sara explained it and demoed a few things, we were free to create whatever we wanted. Sara had supplies – cardboard and a printer, and newspapers and foil and a bunch of random stuff. The only thing she said we have to do is to create something that represents who we are. I chose to play around with one of my older images, Naive. I didn’t know what I was doing, I was cutting stuff and sticking stuff and the whole process was just so messy, but SO much fun!

This is what I did:

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I couldn’t photograph it the way I wanted to, and after talking to Sara about it she said it reminds her of.. hell. So I thought, well, I wanna make it look like hell! And the first thing I thought of was to make it all red. I figured I could use a speedlight (I actually have a speedlight in my camera bag!) and see if anyone has a red gel that I could borrow (I know what a gel is!). No one did, and after I experimented with a few things that didn’t work, Sara grabbed a piece of plastic and a red marker, scribbled on the plastic with the marker, and told me to put that in front of my flash and this is what happened:

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Looking back at it, all I can think is – what the hell was I thinking?! But then again.. I’ve never done this before. And I had fun doing it, so I guess that’s all that matters. I definitely want to try it again though.

Then the day was over, and it was the last day of GPP and we all know what that means – ShootOut! It’s always so much fun, but I also feel really bad for whoever’s taking part because I can’t imagine having to come up with a concept, shoot, and edit – in 20 minutes. In front of hundreds of people. But they did it, and the video of it is up!

Zack kicked ass. He’s so cool. I just kept thinking, can we be friends please??
(Also – David Hobby still knows my name!)

I’m always grateful for GPP for putting together this huge event every year. The team works so hard all year round and they brought together this amazing community of like-minded people. It’s like.. family.
And Sara Lando – I don’t think I can express how incredible she is. I will always be so grateful to her for pushing me and urging me to get out of my comfort zone, for believing in me and thinking so highly of me. I keep joking about how someday I’ll just move to Italy and live with her forever and how she’ll adopt me and god how awesome would that be?!

Sara: thank you so much for being you. Thank you for making me see that there’s so much more out there than what I’ve been exposed to. Thank you for believing that I’m capable of doing more, and thank you for pushing me in that direction. You’re an amazing person and I am so happy to know you.

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