Helsinki-based photographer Jussi Aalto together with Luova.fi and the Helsinki Center of Photography recently held an extended portrait photography workshop in Helsinki. The workshop spanned three weekends in September with different themes for each weekend; ranging from available light to studio portraiture and glamour photography.
While there were participants that only opted for a specific weekend there were a good bunch of us that attended all three workshops. Being together for eight hours a day over the course of three weekends really allowed for everyone to get to know each other which provided for a very creative atmosphere.
Being together with Jussi for these weekends afforded for a bit of repetition in the various presentations he held, allowing us more time to take it all in. It also gave us a better than usual chance of improving on what we had picked up the previous weekends with recurring feedback on our progress. Each workshop started with an introductory presentation of the type of portraiture that was the focus of the weekend. Both past masters and contemporary material were covered along with more technical aspects for creating the image. The presentation followed the material that Jussi has in his book, Kohteena ihminen. If you have read the book you recognize some of the examples and techniques but having them broken down affords you a better understanding of how everything ties together. The second day of the workshop, and at times the bottom half of the first day, was allocated for shooting. We all shot a minimum of one hour on the available light section of the studio and one hour with the studio lighting.
The studio itself was fairly decent sized and even with a dozen or so photographers and models scurrying around it never felt too crowded.Ample changing rooms and make-up areas were available for the models and the studio boasted a dizzying array of lights and modifiers. While the lights themselves weren’t purchased yesterday the functioned well and being able to experiment with different light modifiers was very interesting. I particularly liked the Bowens Fresnel spot and the huge Octa they had. Me like.
All in all a very rewarding experience. Being able to receive critique on both your existing work and work produced during the workshop by a very accomplished and experienced photographer is immensely beneficial to your own development. It solidifies your belief in those aspects you are doing well as well as identifying areas you should pay attention to in future shoots. I would recommend this to any aspiriring photographer seeking a more in-depth experience in portraiture. Now I’m off to pick up a copy of Jussi’s book at the Luova bookstore to keep as a reference.