Practice or Play?

Or both at the same moment?

Children learn through play.

So, why do we stop when we grow up?

On Monday I got together with one of my best friends ( and we spent the afternoon playing with our cameras, lights, posing, and backdrops.

I learned many things...

  • I learned a decent lighting setup that I could rely on for headshots that will almost completely eliminate glasses glare.

  • I learned that the height of my backdrop stand is fine if my subject is sitting on a bar stool.

  • I learned that I am indeed too short, and my headshots will almost always turn out better if I'm standing on my step stool.

  • I learned that guiding people into poses is an art. If it were drawing I'd be at the stick man skill level.

  • I learned that is easier to guide someone into a pose if I first demonstrate the pose.

  • I learned that while "chin forward and down" is useful in nearly every shot if the subject is uncomfortable with the rest of the pose, you're going to see it in their face (unless they are an experienced model with complete control over their expression at all times).

  • I learned that I prefer the left side of my own face.

  • I learned that not only is prompting posing hard, holding the actual pose is even harder.

  • I learned that the pose isn't everything. The winningest shots are the ones with genuine expressions and emotions.

  • I learned that making someone laugh when I'm trying to think about what I'm doing is pretty difficult.

  • I learned that the effect of a reflector is almost imperceptible to my naked eye, I'm still learning to see this, but the effect on a shot is significant.

  • I learned to notice more of how light falls on someones face, and how to adjust for little oddities.

I had a ton of fun. Time flew. I think the fact that there was no pressure, it felt like play, and I did not have to deliver results, allowed me to relax and absorb more information than usual.

Next time you want to learn something, find a way to make it fun.

We’re going to make this practice idea a regular occurrence, picking an idea or topic or technique that we want to explore each time. I’m looking forward to the next one.