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Archive 2013 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer ...
  
 
jzucker
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p.1 #1 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer darton drake


I wanted to give a plug to Darton Drake's photographic instructional videos. I attended two of his workshops at afterdarkedu in st. louis recently and was blown away. For me it was absolutely the highlight of afterdarkedu.

I also bought the complete set of videos on lighting, posing, composition, etc, from http://www.dartondrake.com/.

Sande and I have watched 2 videos so far and they are fantastic. My point of view is that you should learn from the masters and Darton Drake is definitely a master and a legend.

And, before you think that he's doing "old-time" photography which is out of style, check out his work. He does classic photography but he turns it into modern fine art with his use of fabrics, textures, composition, etc.

He also taught with my uncle Monte Zucker and it was fun reminiscing with him about his teaching with Monte who of course is also a legendary photographer. Oh to be a fly on the wall during some of the discussions they must have had!!!



May 02, 2013 at 02:56 PM
jmmaher
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p.1 #2 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer darton drake


I also attended two of his workshops (at After Dark) and I agree they were extraordinary.

Also made me want to buy a Larson 4x6 but I haven't pulled the trigger on that.

Jim



May 03, 2013 at 11:46 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #3 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer darton drake


Ordered my 4x6 and one reflectasol last week!


May 04, 2013 at 12:44 AM
corposant
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p.1 #4 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer darton drake


I have never attended a workshop - what exactly do you get out of them?

It doesn't seem like anybody who teaches a workshop has taken any themselves. I am curious how these people are able to sell their workshops to the general public when it seems like the most successful people in the field either learned by either working as an assistant or just figured things out on their own.



May 04, 2013 at 01:48 AM
williamkazak
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p.1 #5 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer darton drake


corposant wrote:
I have never attended a workshop - what exactly do you get out of them?

It doesn't seem like anybody who teaches a workshop has taken any themselves. I am curious how these people are able to sell their workshops to the general public when it seems like the most successful people in the field either learned by either working as an assistant or just figured things out on their own.


If you have never been to a workshop, then you will have to actually go to one or more of them to realize the gains that can be achieved by watching, listening and asking questions. The most successful people in the field probably were eager to learn from anyone in the industry that may have been of benefit to them. Many successful people share their knowledge and talk things over with each other. You don't have to be famous to share what you know. I have enjoyed some Calumet Camera workshops. You can see how someone handles different situations, ask questions and see the latest gear. These are good experiences with people who love photography, like you do.



May 19, 2013 at 06:47 AM
 

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cgardner
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p.1 #6 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer darton drake


corposant wrote:
I have never attended a workshop - what exactly do you get out of them?

It doesn't seem like anybody who teaches a workshop has taken any themselves. I am curious how these people are able to sell their workshops to the general public when it seems like the most successful people in the field either learned by either working as an assistant or just figured things out on their own.


I apprenticed with Jack's uncle Monte in the early 70s and assisted with his classes which range from a 2 hour lecture in front of 300 pros at a PPofA convention to a three-day hands-on "master classes" with 2-5 photographers .

By then Monte had been in the business about 25 years. He got into teaching and writing by virtue of being innovative in the 60s. When others did flat looking single flash shots and stale looking studio lit formals he use window light and a reflector for the posed shots and incorporated the then new idea of an optically triggered slave to shoot all his wedding reception "candids" with dual flash. He got recognition amongst his PPofA peers in the profession by walking away with the prizes in print competitions. He was also very successful financially because he had clients who paid top dollar for his work.

Winning competitions led to invitations to teach at the PPofA summer seminars and at conventions and a monthly column in the PPofA magazine. He magazine column which I read as a PPofA student member is how I knew who he was and what I could learn from him when I saw the ad in the Washington Post for an apprentice / assistant. It was and old fashioned apprenticeship: I made only $50 per week to start, but getting paid for the education I got.

I was already a technically competent photographer using the Zone System and had some experience selling work as a photojournalist. Where I was clueless was dealing with people and putting them at ease, what was actually involved behind the scenes to run a small business successfully, and how difficult that part is to do well single-handed.

That's mostly what photographers, mostly wedding pros, who attended Monte's seminars got. It was a given they had mastered the technical side and had some experience with posing, lighting, business approach, etc. So sitting in a crowd of 300 at convention they where not trying to learn things from ground zero, it was more a process of comparing what they did with what Monte had found to be successful. A person with no experience attending one of his convention seminars wouldn't get much out of it because they would have no baseline of personal experience to compare it to.

As for why some people appear to teach more than they shoot? Over time photography as a business is more like bricklaying than art and like bricklaying it can get boring. That's why a many photographers burn out after going "pro" for a few years. Teaching by comparison is more fun, and can be as remunerative.

What motivated Monte over the years shooting weddings was he loved interacting with people and making them happy. A huge part of the secret of his success is his clients loved working with him. That same love of people motivated him to teach. Some successful people will jealously guard their "tricks of the trade". He laid them out in simple to follow "paint-by-numbers" techniques that were easy to remember and master. Anybody could easily master his photographic techniques. Developing the same ease and repport with people? That's where Monte, and extroverted - feeling type had skills photographers like me who are by nature introveted - thinking types excelled in ways not easy to learn.

I learned by observation watching him, then imitating him. I learned if you approach someone at a wedding with a big smile and say, "I'd like you make you look your best in this photo for the wedding album, could you please ....." Asked the right way, pushing the "vanity" button they would happily cooperate and appreciate the professionalism of not just walking up and taking a 'snap shot' candid. Little things like that make a huge difference in dealing with people.

Another lesson learned was how he could make a portrait session seem like a party because he did the technical stuff so simply it never got in the way of interacting with the subjects and making them look their best. That, and some of his brilliant ideas for marketing, are the most important lessons I took away from the experience working for him.

With portrait photography the goal is pretty simple, make people look better in the photos than their self-image looking in the mirror. Just using an oblique view with short lighting does that. But what creates the emotional reaction isn't the lighting or the pose, it's the photographer's ability to interact with the subject, put them at ease and be able to capture a natural expression. Watching a guy like Monte interact with his subjects is one of the best ways to learn that and not something that can be done on the Internet or in the old days from reading a book.



May 20, 2013 at 02:52 PM
corposant
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p.1 #7 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer darton drake


I appreciate the fact this is not an easy question to answer since it seems like a "you have to be there to see it" notion. I also understand why some photographers offer workshops... money. I am sure if Herb Ritts were alive today and offered them, I'd be tempted to attend one.

I guess I am trying to figure out if it would make a person a better photographer or not. Ritts is ironically a great example since he became serious about photography later in life (relatively speaking) and pretty much learned what he needed to know on his own. I am sure there is a greatness gene that Ritts (and many others) had and no matter what equipment or training he had, he was going to become successful.

I guess for those who may not have that genetic make-up, some things surely can't be taught. Developing a rapport with a subject is what I would consider one of the most important parts of portrait photography, but even the most technically proficient creepy sociopath will never make it as a portrait photographer.

I can accept that people will pay thousands of dollars to see their idols or influencers talk/work, but for those people who have never heard of the masters, would they better served shooting their friends while experimenting with lighting?



May 21, 2013 at 12:45 AM
tedwca
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p.1 #8 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer darton drake


Speaking from personal experience, sociopaths can be QUITE charming when they want to. Come to think of it, I remember several people using that exact term to describe this person.

BTW - Herb Ritts is one of the few photographers I would have paid to see.



May 21, 2013 at 03:12 AM
erichard
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p.1 #9 · Wanted to give a plug to legendary portrait photographer darton drake


Good heads up. The fellow definitely has a gift for photography/art. The Peter Hurley videos also discuss the personal interaction end of photography, or so I'm told (having watched the freebie promotional versions on youtube). He believes it is THE key, both for the photograph and the business of photography. Apparently, his videos go into some depth about the back end of running the business as well. Half promotor, half photographer, he is a genius of sorts in a narrow aspect of photography, particularly if you consider his entrepreneurship (maybe above his photography). Carve out your style, and work it.


May 21, 2013 at 05:06 PM





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