WOW I am a terrible blogger–today I am forced to quiet down (sick) and so what better activity than to write.

I was asked to talk about recent Training I have had through CreativeLive and Sandy Puc Tours.  Both are very affordable and give you access to artists who charge way more than I can afford to attend. ($2200/week, not including hotel/food or transportation)

This last weekend Bambi Cantrell ( wowed us with her knowledge and her fun personality on  She is basically a wedding photography and has been in the photography business for 25 years.  She imparted so much knowledge and wisdom that it was hard to keep up with her.  I bought the whole series as it is only $99 while the workshop is going, then $149 after the workshop is over–still a bargain if you consider attending a workshop of hers is far more expensive.

I am going to go through some of the quotes from Bambi as well as what she taught.  Creativity–“the more you expose your brain to stimulate it, the more creative you will become!”  Isn’t true that when you surf photography though programs such as, or or  you expose yourself to so many styles of photography and many different artists that you get ideas ruminating in your mind.  I don’t think it is a bad thing to recreate images that strike you as very creative.  You learn by doing it and by doing it, may make just enough changes to create something more unique.  Just be careful not to claim the original idea as your own–ideas are copyrighted –but practice creativity–even someone else’s just to stimulate your own.  Keep your mind sharp.

On posing, Bambi was a wealth of information. She talked no stop to the models as she posed them–and used terms such as “scooter”, “dad”, “missypoo”, “dawling” and etc.  She really created a relaxed  atmosphere for everyone with her fun personality.  She posed and reposed models until she got what she wanted. “Legs on top of one another adds weight”, “if there is a joint, bend it!”, “talk to the subject, get to know face anatomy”, “find the light source, get comfortable with the subject.”  She definitely did exactly that.

Lighting is always one of the more important topics.  Find the light.  Walk around the subject, see how the light falls, then adjust it to get what you want–she used a big octobox  and ambient lighting in the room.  The light was continuous and not strobe.  Several times she climbed up on a ladder to shoot down on the subject–a little higher angle enhances.  At a wedding she keeps a ladder behind the band and has an assistant bring it to the edge of the dance floor –she tries to catch the band in the background of the dancing–but dj’s she doesn’t.  Squint to see where the light in coming from–try it–right now–it works.  The color temperature is important.  She would ask the videographer to shine his /her video light on the subject –if she needed more light.  Video lights are not horribly expensive and lots of photographers have one in their bag, as they are a great light source.  Soft light creates a soft expression–move the light source closer to get a softer light falling on the subject.  Never use a direct flash–bounce off of a light wall–large light softens.  If you are using TTL  flash exposure–where your flash reads through the lens of the camera –use a higher ISO 800.  She uses a Gary Fong light sphere–which she calls a “toilet plunger”.  If photographing really light-skinned subjects, or bride in white dress against a white wall,  under-expose (expose too dark) your image just a little–conversely–when photographing dark skinned people –over-expose ( expose too light) just a little.

Bambi went through the business side of photography as well and the most important point she made:  “If you can afford yourself, your prices are too low.”

There was a wealth of information in this series–I have touched on just a few nuggets gleaned from the series–it is well worth the price to buy it.

The Sandy Puc (put-ch) /Jerry Ghionis Tour came to town–just barely as they had to get over a snowed in pass in northern California to get to Seattle on time–on the fourth try they made it.  I am so thankful that they did.  Sandy Puc (; www.; is a major educator in the photography community.  She is currently running a free forum for people who want to become a Certified photographer.  It is well worth the time to study with this forum for the test–which consist of a test of multiple choice questions and submitting a portfolio of 20 images to be judged.  I am a part of this group–we study a book called Photography by Barbara London, either the 9th or 10th edition. The latest edition runs somewhere around $120.  You can find used editions of the 9th version for less.  I highly recommend this program called Certify with Sandy as the education in itself is amazing–you can’t imagine all the aspects of photography you need to know to really understand it–I am confident I will be able to pass the written exam–I don’t have the client base (yet) to submit the portfolio.  It cost $100 to take the test–you have three years to pass it and can submit portfolios every month until you do.  I have seen many free webinars put on by Sandy or another artist she has chosen to teach in their area of expertise.  The webinars are on the Certify with Sandy forum free to be viewed as many times as you like.  You can join Photography School House (www. for free and sign up to be notified of the webinars.  They are free as well.  Since I have heard Sandy teach so many times–I was more interested in Jerry Ghionis.

Jerry Ghionis (; is amazingly creative.  Bambi Cantrell mentioned that he is the most technically sound photographer she knows.

He brought people up and posed them and showed us how  he evoked emotion from them by just talking to them.  For example, he was about to reveal and take photos of the bride and the parents of the bride.  Before he let the parents in the room–he talked to them  about remembering that this woman was once their little baby they could hold in their arms and cuddle her–and now what they were going to see was the same little girl all grown into a beautiful woman.  He got exactly the reaction he wanted–the mom and dad were in tears when they saw their daughter in a bridal gown for the first time.

Jerry encourages “mastering the pose in the journalistic style.”  He said”Side lighting emphasizes texture.  Bring arms off the body, shoulders back –eliminates wrinkles and smooths skin–learn forward with chest (women), straighten the back.”  “Push problems areas away from camera and source of light.”  “Bend the leg, you should be able to see through the knee and between the ankles.”  On posing grooms ( or men) “Hang the body, chest and shoulders forward–closer to the camera ( hides the paunch), bend the leg.”  “Sit the groom on the edge of a chair–one leg out and one in, chest out.”  “Bend women, show soft hands.”  “Hide the weaknesses–(plus size women–crooked noses–one droopy eye etc)” His favorite posing tip is to have the subject mirror you.

He listed most important things in photography in order:

1.Light-direction/pockets  2. Location, background 3. Pose-concept/action 4. Technique/exposure 5. Expression/finesse.

Shoot manual–keep the ISO on the lowest setting, choose a different white balance to enhance–then aperture–4.5 or more (he has no tolerance for out of focus shooting), shutter speed-expose for light or dark.

Turn the ordinary into the extraordinary–he showed us several shots–before and after he did his magic.  For example, in one shot he was doing a wedding in Melbourne and he noticed bugs hitting his face–lot of bugs.  He brought the bride and groom outside, and a sax player–he noticed the bride and groom were especially fond of his music–then set up an off camera flash as a back light–the image showed a bride and groom, sax player and hundreds of white flecks (bugs) that looked like a myriad of stars surrounding the bride and groom and sax play.  Check out his blog to see he creativity.

“See more differently,” “expose for light,” “one day a month practice your craft–pick a scene from your favorite movie–emulate it,” “slow down-don’t do 500 shots and no really good ones,” “YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE THE BEST, JUST BETTER THAN LAST WEEK.”

His last words of wisdom were:  “TO BE A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER, BE A BETTER PERSON”

I was so challenged by Jerry- he is a very personable and fun person.

I hope you have been inspired to take advantage of free education or inexpensive at least.  Check out the websites to find out more about the artists and their blogs as they like to share their knowledge–

Thanks for stopping by.



About ~ ~ joanne.thomas.photographer~~

I am retired, starting a new career. I love shooting portraits. People are so fun and interesting--I try to bring out there personalities and capture them in images. Children are especially interesting little people, who love to tell you all they know and are so uninhibited. I enjoy shooting weddings to capture all the details and emotions of the day. Between photo sessions I keep shooting --to learn, to experiment--to create art. The industry is ever evolving and I want to give my clients the most exciting and lasting images, full of their love of life expressing their personality.
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2 Responses to Training

  1. Kim Barlow says:

    Hi Joanne,

    We met at the conference on Monday. I love your blog and have enjoyed looking through more of your portraits. Thanks for giving me the site.

    Loved reading your notes from the conference. I’m in the middle of writing mine up.

    I just wanted to say “hey” and tell you how much I liked your blog. I’m going to have to look up Bambi. I didn’t get any information on her seminar.

    Kim Barlow

  2. Sharon says:

    What a great post. I like CreativeLIVE but totally missed this past weekend. Not that I do much portrait work anyway but could have been interesting to learn a bit about how the pros do things.

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