This is a little message about the need to continue to grow and the need to continue to see in new ways (literally and figuratively). It is also about assessing one’s weaknesses and instead of ignoring them, face them head on in order to grow.

Over the past few weeks, I have participated in Don Giannatti’s online "Tabletop Photography" class which is part of his Lighting Essentials Program www.lighting-essentials.com. Years ago very talented photographer, painter, and friend of mine, Irene Liebler, took a year long class (Project 52) with Don and raved about the class.Irene;s work is truly amazing and hope you check out her website at https://ireneliebler.com. Since speaking with Irene, studying with Don was something that has been on my bucket list. The class has weekly assignments to complete and Don offers instructional material to prepare you for the shoot. The class is designed so well with so much information. I hope to study with him again in the future.

Lighting shiny surfaces has always been a challenge for me and something that I knew I needed work on. Don was hosting a 7 week online course on table top photography that would address that issue in many different ways and approaches. Coming from a fine art background transitioning to the thinking of a commercial/ product photographer was challenging. The level of looking, seeing and perfecting an image is there in both approaches, yet the intent is a little different. The focus is on the product and making the product look good, rather than focusing more on self expression. There is a discipline that comes with that type of shooting. It was eye opening! I have so much more respect for what a product photographer has to go through to create the images that we see in magazines and billboards.

Don’ is a wonderful instructor. He has such a good eye at seeing everything that is working (or not working) in shot. He has a great way of helping everyone in a positive way, while having high expectations. I sense that as a photographer and creative director, he doesn’t play around! No excuses! lol!

Another great thing about the class is hearing the feedback and sharing behind the scene photos with other participants who are creative and passionate photographers. We learned from each other as everyone interpreted the assignments in their own way. I looked forward to see how each participant interpreted the assignment.

We have one more assignment to complete. I can say that I have a better grasp and understanding of shooting reflective surfaces (and realize that there is still so much more to learn about light, photography and shooting intentionally). I guess the takeaway from all of this is to put yourself in a position to be open to learning new ways and approaches of doing things. Don't be afraid to let go of old ways of doing something and plunge in and try something new in order to become a more well rounded image maker.

Above is a recent assignment that I did using hard light (which is often incorrectly looked down upon by the typical photo enthusiast). (I have always said in my photo presentations, there is not bad or good light. It is how the light selected helps convey your intentions that makes one better or worse). The decisions that one makes behind and in front of the camera are driven by the intent of the photographer. The challenge was to use shadow to inform the viewer about some type of quality of the subject. Without Don’s instruction, I would have never thought to shoot in this way. He shared many other approaches that were new to me and I’m excited to incorporate it into my fine art still life photography. Below is a product photography shot where the subject is backlit and parts are composited to create the final image. Don made some suggestions regarding the image that helped me focus on the small details that helps elevate an image. Even though I do not intend to be a commercial product photographer, those skills and that amount of attention to detail is something that I will strive for. . Much was learned about dealing with shiny surfaces and specular highlights in this assignment.

If anyone has the opportunity to take an online class with Don, go for it. It will be challenging. It may even put you in a different mindset, and help you see and create in new ways.

Over the years I have come to realize that when pursuing any kind of art form, there are many approaches and ways of seeing. One has to be aware that there is not only one way to do something and often the preconceptions of how to do something changes with more experience. I hope to continue to be open to learning in the future. I hope it is something that I can stress to my own students. Even an "old teacher" can learn something new!

Thanks again Don for sharing your insight and passion for what one can do with light and a camera!

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