2011 Canadian Imaging Conference & Tradeshow – Part 2

This post is for the photographers who visit my blog.  I had been looking forward to the Professional Photographers of Canada national conference for quite some time, and when the day finally came to drive out to Banff, I was pumped!  There were so many events packed into the 5 day conference, and although I didn’t make it out to all of them, I nevertheless left the conference feeling tremendously inspired and feeling like I left with that much more knowledge and direction in how I wanted to hone my photography.

Some of the highlights, for me, included:

  • The low-key feel of the conference. Although I still want to satisfy my curiosity and attend WPPI and be a part of the madness that occurs when you have ten thousand photographers all in one place, I probably will always prefer a more intimate setting.  I’m guessing here, but there were maybe only 300 participants at this conference.  Platform speakers and instructors were therefore more easily approachable.  It made for a far more interactive experience because you could get some face time with master photographers who have been practicing their craft for decades.
  • Accreditation and Image Salon judging. Participants are free to sit in and listen to the judges’ comments on accreditation and Image Salon submissions.  I sat through most of the judging on Saturday and found it to be a tremendous learning experience.  The individual who submitted the images was not referred to as the “photographer”, but rather as the “maker”.  In the accreditation judging, a common theme of the judges’ comments was that they were looking for evidence of light control and direction by the maker of the image.  Many portraits submissions were not accepted because of the flat lighting.  I was able to get a sense of what the judges were looking for and I will incorporate their comments when I make my first accreditation submission later this year.
  • Art Wolfe. On Sunday evening, Art Wolfe took us on a magical tour of the world from the perspective of what he saw through his viewfinder.  It is simply amazing what he has seen and photographed during his world travels.  See more here.
  • Appreciation for the “old masters”. At one of the dinner events I had the good fortune of sitting down and eating with Sam Sciarrino of Horvath Studio of Photography.  Sam was the recent winner of the SWPP 2010 Wedding Traditional Photographer of the Year award and owns a very successful studio in the Greater Toronto Area.  Sam had apprenticed under “old man Horvath” (hence the name of the studio) and it really impressed upon me the importance of shooting, shooting, and more shooting and developing one’s skills gradually over time.  One does not become a true master overnight.  It takes years.  It was great to pick his brain and get his perspective on the state of the industry.  The next day I attended his lecture on wedding photography and really learned from his approach to composition, the use of off-camera lighting including bare bulb techniques, and posing of his subjects.
  • Enter the “new school”. Well, they’ve been at it for years, but the husband and wife team of Dave and Quin Cheung of DQ Studios (& Motibodo) captivated the audience with their humility, their sense of humour and their outside-of-the-box approach to shooting a wedding.  In addition to being an open book about their choice of gear, they delivered a presentation that married the technical side of photography with their extremely creative approach to using off-camera flash and shadows, to create compelling story-telling and amazing wedding photography art.  They encouraged us audience members to continually push ourselves to make our work stand out and be different from our competition.  “Get the safe shots first”, Dave said, “and then you can play!”.  Well said.  Their presentation was a standout because they were strong public speakers who displayed a great command of technical knowledge and image creativity.
  • David Ziser. This was my first time seeing David Ziser in person and he delivered a fantastic presentation (nearly 6 hours!) on wedding photography, how to create strong compositions, and his approach to using off-camera flash.  Much of his presentation was a condensed version of his book Captured by the Light, but it was great to hear him speak to many of the images in his book and offer additional comments and insight on how he created such great images.  I mentioned earlier that the PPOC judges were not big proponents of flat lighting.  You could also put David Ziser in that group.  I got a big kick out of his appeal to “Save the Shadows” – but in all seriousness, he is right.  The current trend in many photographer’s post-processing is to soften and over-dodge a subject’s skin.  On children, it can be flattering when used properly.  When used improperly or excessively, the skin tonality starts to look unnatural.  Use off-camera flash and/or proper positioning of your subject and create some timeless lighting patterns to add depth, dimension and mood to your images.  Thanks for signing my book David!!!

I could go on and on, because there were so many other accomplished photographers and leaders in the industry on hand to share their knowledge.  Inspiration of course, is only half of the equation, and although I left the conference feeling greatly inspired, I knew that the next step was to incorporate what I learned and to practice, practice, practice.  I’ll be working on more creatives this year and will post the results on my blog in the coming months.

Here’s a frame of the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel that I shot from across the Bow River.

© Joel Yana Photography


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