How to Photograph Everyone Master Class

Discussion in 'Education' started by marvin_israel, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. If you are thinking of paying $199 to take Clay Blackmore's so-called master class of How to Photograph Everyone, you might be interested in my experience. I took this class on May 21, 2012 in a room at Adorama in New York City.
    Promised: Loop Lighting and Posing Breakout Sessions

    Let Clay show you the light. Learn how the masters light their portraits. Working in small intimate groups, you will learn how to create the lighting pattern used by masters throughout history, including the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. After mastering the light, you’ll refine the body position to create the most elegant and artistic pose for any subject.
    Delivered: Each person out of the eighteen present was given a card with various head and shoulder poses (masculine, feminine, full face, 3/4, etc.), told to choose one, and then given only two minutes to arrange both the light (steady fluorescent) and the reflector and pose the model. This was presented as a challenge to win as a prize a two day class with Blackmore, and we were told that no one had ever succeeded in meeting the challenge. Blackmore would say stuff like "thirty seconds left," which increased the pressure on everyone, but especially on those who had no prior experience in doing this. It was embarrassing to watch one such person struggling to get it right in such a limited time. Moreover, there was no attempt to make certain that every person went through this exercise (ordeal?); instead, one had to volunteer. I, for one, declined the opportunity to humiliate myself. After each person was unsuccessful in perfectly duplicating the pose illustrated on the card, Blackmore would rearrange the lights and the pose to show how it should have been done.
    Unless we are talking about the boot camp for Navy Seals, is there anyone reading this with teaching experience who thinks this constitutes effective teaching? Aside from putting beginners under impossible pressure, just showing how the master would have done it is ineffectual without guiding the student to improve the shot by his own doing as in having the student himself change the pose and the lighting accompanied by helpful correction.
    Promised: Speedlight Instruction

    Today's Speedlights have the ability to create the exact qualities of light that are traditionally found in much bigger strobe units. Clay demonstrates how to createperfect lighting ratios using multiple Speedlights on location. Unique modifiers will be used to create soft, specular lighting that you can take with you anywhere.
    Speedlight Breakout Sessions

    Students will be given assignments using the Speedlight flashes to create their own masterpieces. Clay will set up a Speedlight studio and create portraits that rival anything created with big studio strobes. Clay will demonstrate combining strobe and daylight, wheather [sic] in bright sun, open shade, and even window light.
    Delivered: Nothing. Blackmore said that one of his speedlights had been stolen and another damaged, so he was not going to do anything with speedlights. Since he had sent his assistant downstairs to the Adorama store to pick up some hardware, it would have been easy for him to purchase replacements for the missing speedlights so that this part of the promised "master class" would not have to be eliminated.
    Promised: Posing Groups

    See Clay’s tried-and-true methods for posing couples and groups. Students will have an opportunity participate in hands-on activities. The new teaching method will train each student to create a group on a magnetic board using circles. Once he or she is proficient with this method, real individuals will be used.
    Delivered: Nothing. There was no magnetic board and none of us were trained to create a group. A few pictures that Blackmore had taken of groups were projected and he made a few comments on them.
    Promised: Practice Sessions & Class Critiques

    Students, using their own camera, will make portraits of models and of each other using the 1, 2, 3 method. Clay and Frank will be holding your reflector and making sure that new habits are being formed and reinforced.
    Delivered: Blackmore had arranged an assignment for him to photograph a recently engaged couple. He started photographing them in the studio while some students crowded around to photograph them as best they could, but it was only Blackmore arranging the lighting and giving the couple posing instructions. Then we went outside to Union Square. On the way, we were accompanied by the two models and the engaged couple and Blackmore would stop every now and then to photograph the couple and the models. He would spontaneously? choose various backgrounds against which to make the photographs. Again, the students had no role to play except to try to make photographs of the couple and of the models without interfering with Blackmore. When we got to the park we were divided into two groups facing one another as partners. Blackmore would announce the pose, masculine or feminine, and the partners would alternate posing their counterpart. Then Blackmore would go down the line either approving or criticizing. After that, each of the two groups was given one model to work with, and it was up to us to pose them without any guidance or critique. In the meantime, Blackmore was photographing the engaged couple.
    Promised: $99 value for free

    Each Master Class Student will receive a free copy of OnOne's Perfect Portrait. OnOnes sets the bar for the industry standard when you need to retouch your images quickly and professionaly. Perfect Portrait provides just the right tools for...
    Delivered: One month later I have not received the promised software.
    Conclusion: If you think it is worth a day of your time and $199 to listen to someone tell you how good a photographer he is and to watch examples of his work being projected on a screen and to see him choose various outdoor venues against which to photograph a couple or a model, then this is the workshop for you. However, if you want someone to personally guide you, critique you, help you master a technique, you will not get that here.
  2. <p>i just read your post by accident really, while browsing photonet. What you have posted here is very important to the photography community, but your heading, and where you have the thread, do not bring attention to your post. IE no one who needs to receive this warning, is going to see it. It would perhaps gain the attention it deserves if you headed it actual fact it may be interesting if you contacted Josh about a new "post category" in which specific, valid, warnings about poor products and/or failure to deliver the goods, can be posted.<br>
    in addition to being a photographer, i am an artist. What you have experienced here is an oft-repeated scene/event in the artworld. There are hundreds of so-called "instructors" out there collecting from two to five hundred bucks a pop for seminars, who once they are in front of a "class", turn out not to know how to "instruct" at all, and are there to do nothing more than boost their own egos and bank accounts. So, this is not as "rare" as it should be. <br>
    And if you really want to have some fun, I've just spent three days on u-tube for my first time, trying to find "camera comparison" videos....and what you are describing is even worse on go to a video announcing itself as "an in depth review of a t3i", and find yourself in front of a four minute piece of junk watching some 13 year old kid unpack a t3i from its box.<br>
    We live in a world where mediocrity isn't "poor" anymore, anything "mediocre" is better than 95 percent of what's out there.

    Somewhere in the photonet library of instruction, if i recall from a quick flip through it a few years ago, there is actually a reasonably "fair" demo of some portrait lighting setups (can't recall who by, and they weren't "perfect", but they were reasonably good, and free...)

    Enjoy yourself, photography is a great business to be in, a fun business to be in, and you obviously will be someone who ensures your client gets the value for their money they deserve, so you'll do well at it.<p>

    Robert C Anderson
    facebook page robert.c.anderson.161<p>
    website is an imagepro website through photonet:
  3. I would hope that someone planning to take a class would first google the name of the class to see whether it had been reviewed. I put this in the education forum because I didn't see where else it might fit; however, I will do as you suggest and forward your proposal to Josh. I reviewed another class on this forum titled "Workshops Compared: Steve McCurry and Neil van Kiekerk.
    Just the other day I was sent the missing software after emailing the Clay Blackmore web site. So it took more than a month and a complaint to get the promised software.
  4. Robert, certainly as a professional, and as an intelligent person, you should know that one man's opinion of an experience or a photographer is simply that, one man's opinion. I am not saying Mr. Israel isn't entitled to share his experience, just that before anyone draws sweeping conclusions from it. For example:
    "There are hundreds of so-called "instructors" out there collecting from two to five hundred bucks a pop for seminars, who once they are in front of a "class", turn out not to know how to "instruct" at all, and are there to do nothing more than boost their own egos and bank accounts. So, this is not as "rare" as it should be."
    I can assure you that regardless of Mr. Israel's conclusions, Clay Blackmore doesn't fit that description at all. In fact, if you do a little research, you'll find that every single other review on the web for Clay's masterclass is positive. For example:
    And finally, read a response to Mr. Israel's identical post on DPREVIEW from CP3Photographer (at the bottom)
    For full disclosure, I own Monte Zucker Photographic Education, thus I produced this tour, and Clay is one of my best friends in the world.
    Mr. Israel, I am terribly sorry you had a bad experience. I can assure you this is not representative of who Clay is. That being said, you obviously did not feel this was a good fit for you. I invite you to contact me personally if you would like to discuss it. I am in business to give people good experiences, not bad ones, and so it pains me personally to have a customer dissatisfied.
    Jeff Medford
    225-266-2836 cell
  5. it


    This stuff takes years to learn, not a day. These guys oversell like crazy.
  6. I find that allot of these seminars leave much to be desired. First of all(for the avg human) there is no way that 8 hours of anything is going to stick to your brain. Even if you start practicing immediately after the seminar you still might have problems. Often these classes are offered to make money and the teachers there are more interested in skimming time off the clock than actually teaching the class. Third if there are more than 10 students in the class teaching becomes a nightmare since time has to be alloted to each student. Imagine trying to split an hour by 10 !
    Don't get me wrong not all classes are like this and you do learn something from most of them. You are just NOT going to become a Master from just one class . A better idea would be to get a good book and practice with your wife or your kids(if they can put up with it) you will learn allot more this way. Also hiring professional models for an all day shoot is a good way to learn.
  7. I accepted Mr. Medford's invitation to call him and discuss my experience of the workshop. I called and he explained that an assistant's error of forgetting to put a wedding job on the calendar had as one of its repercussions the scheduling of the engaged couple's photo shoot which encroached on the class time. Also, that Blackmore's car had been broken into that day and his speedlights stolen. Since the workshop I had purchased did not conform to its description, indeed, fell quite short of its promised components, I was offered a refund. Although that does not compensate me for the travel expense to and from NYC from South Central PA, it is fair enough. According to Mr. Medford, the workshop, when not bedeviled by overlooked wedding shoots and stolen speedlights, is better.
    As someone with thirty-seven years of teaching experience and having taken numerous classes in everything from various foreign languages to gun and knife handling in self-defense, I would still contend that Blackmore's high pressure, two-minute challenge mode of teaching is not effective for many, if not most, people. And not to quibble about the absence of speedlight instruction, I still fail to see why they could not have been purchased on the spot, especially considering that the class was fully registered. Twenty people X $199=3980 which is more than enough to purchase three speedlights, especially since they need to be replaced anyway.
  8. At this point, you were given the courtesy of being contacted, and a refund, so essentially, your post achieved the best results which could be expected. (In terms of what to expect from any seminar of this nature, one of the other respondents summed it up: this don't happen in 8 hours. So, if you wanna buy into the sound-bite mentality teasing you with the possibility it can, well......
    As far as "this is what they said about the lights, and about the this, and about the that....", you apparently are serious about what you're getting into, you've now had this less than satisfactory experience of your own, so you are entering the business fully aware that when someone hands you six or seven thousand bucks to photograph a wedding for example, that at the end of the day they aren't going to want to hear about "why things didn't work", they're going to hold out their hands saying "we want to see photographs, and we expect to see very good ones". And they will have paid for the right to expect it.
    Every experience you have, maybe even especially the poor ones, make you a better photographer.
  9. Yes, I would think it goes without saying that when hired to do a job, there should be no excuses for failure. Luckily for me, I have no plans to turn professional; I just enjoy photography as a hobby. I have, against my better judgement, given in to the blandishments of a good friend and photographed his wedding, but I did not charge. I told him if he wanted a quality product he should hire a professional, but he insisted and claimed to be satisfied with the results. Needless to say, I was not, and it only confirmed my belief that wedding photography is a stressful experience. I also do head and shoulder portraits of friends for them to use on Linkedin and Facebook, but I do not charge. If someone wants a print I only charge them for the supplies. I take these workshops only to improve.
  10. intriguing comment: that you gave in and photo'd your friends wedding 'against your better judgement'.
    A superior pilot is one who knows how to use his superior judgement to keep himself out of situations requiring demonstrating his superior flying skills in order to avoid disaster.
    There are basically two things which make a pro photographer successful: the second of those two is knowing how to successfully complete the assignments they accept. The first, is knowing which jobs to say no to. And meaning it.
  11. Any program that lists only 1 type of people photography lighting is missing most of the business and all of the art.
    There are four classical lighting patterns. 1. Butterfly (also called hollywood glamour), 2. Loop (also called Paramount), 3. 45 degree (also called Rembrandt), 4., Split (sometimes called hatchet).
    The differences are "Short", "Broad", and what I call "Double Broad". This relates to the the key light placement and the head position.
    Next our concern is contrast: 1:1 is absolutely flat and when used, it is usually by a large soft box only.
    First: A fill light is positioned so that there is no shadow on the face, that is "1" in lighting ratios.
    Second: A Key or Main light illuminates for one of the classical lighting patterns. 2:1 The Key is 1 stop brighter than the fill this is common in high key kids photos and often in formal bridals. 3:1 The key is 1.5 stops brighter than the fill, this is the most common for classical portraiture. 4:1 The key is 2 stops brighter than the fill and is often used for male portraiture. 5 or 6:1 is used for special effects or theatrical portraiture and there is very little shadow detail. Spot light with no fill is very theatrical and seldom used (however that was virtually all that George Hurrell used).
  12. By the way Marvin, I worked in the city in both the 50's and the 60's but didn't get to know you. Among other things I teach Photo History and I'm aware of your relationship to Dianne Arbus. I teach a segment about Dianne and your name comes up.
  13. How To Photograph Everyone, Made Simple
    1 find a nice, quiet place w/ good light, preferably from the north
    2 once you've determined the size prints you desire, use an appropriate lens and camera
    3 have a comfortable chair for your subject (and for yourself)
    4 take your photos in a relaxed, professional manner
    Could there possibly be anything that I missed? Nah, but you can't SELL this
  14. it


    Lynn, I think the Marvin Israel who knew Dianne Arbus died in 1984.

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