Six months ago I had never worked in a studio or had a model shoot - this despite the fact that I have always loved looking at fashion photography.
Occasionally I had looked into Studio Lighting introductory courses but they had always seemed unduly expensive. Then I joined the Brighton Photographers Group via the MeetUp website and immediately saw that they were hosting a half-day Lighting Workshop with photographer Jon Gray and a local model. The cost, compared with sessions I had seen advertised elsewhere, was exceedingly modest, as was the fee the group's organiser, Dade Freeman (a full-time Brighton portrait photographer), charged for a follow-up hands-on session a couple of weeks later.
I was immediately hooked and arranged my own solo sessions in the same studio (at the Brighton Media Centre) with four different models, mainly sourced through the PurplePort website, which has had as big an impact on my photography as Flickr did nearly ten years ago.
Since joining the site I have done over 20 shoots (see references). In the summer months these were mainly location shoots but I am now once again actively booking studio time to continue building my experience using artificial lighting and the different retouching skills that working with the resulting images requires.
The whole six-month period has been an education. As well as the introductory sessions mentioned above I've attended an available light day course led by Kris Karl (whose style and attitude I like a lot), a full-on immersive experience in styling and organising a commercial shoot (led by Erika Szostak), and joined in a group beach shoot with its own closed Facebook group, organised by David Long of Exposure Studios London.
Mainly I've been learning and loving the making of beautiful headshots and fashion portraits, and constantly improving my retouching skills using Lightroom and Photoshop.
There are some full-time professional and commercial photographers on Purpleport, some agency-level models, and some other models who manage to make a fulltime living from a life of internet modelling and specially arranged day-long studio sessions. But the vast majority of those using the site seem to be either hobbyists or indulging in a pastime that both boosts self-confidence and provides pleasure.
Trade shoots, as they are called (where both parties are trading their time in return for the resulting photographs), can be somewhat precarious. Where there is no financial reward involved, last-minute cancellations are a constant worry. I have had three or four of those. Indeed, I'm writing this overdue Camera Blog update during an afternoon when I should have been shooting in the studio.
It may be premature, and an inappropriate feeling to have at my time of life, but it feels as if my fledgling status in this form of photography is coming to an end and I'm ready to fly. If all goes to plan I'll be shooting a 1940s themed fashion/editorial shoot in some private grounds next month.