photography workshop

As you may have noticed, I like to take photos. I do not claim to be an expert or a professional - and I doubt I ever will be - but I love photography as an artistic outlet. People always like to see photos of what you're doing, especially if it involves them, so it's a hobby that has useful appeal. Also, people don't like to read blogs without photos, so I'm constantly snapping away. For these reasons, I'm always on a mission to improve my skill set.

Recently, my good friend KK organized a photography workshop with Holly Gauper, one of her friends who is a professional photographer. Holly agreed to come on island and teach a full-day photo course to a group of us. I was excited to be able to ask a real live person about all the photo topics that puzzle me, rather than trying to find answers in a book or on a blog. As it turns out, I wasn't the only one who had questions, and soon I had a living room full of this kind of activity:

I like learning around career students. SS is a prime example. Photography isn't even her main hobby, but she was soaking up every camera tip like her livelihood depended on it.

  photo credit: KK
MM: Trying to focus on learning and not think about
how early on a Saturday we're doing so!

Holly was a quite the hands-on instructor. In addition to a very powerful set of slides with detailed descriptions of how to get certain tricky shots, she allowed us to handle her expensive equipment.

It's unbelievable how much time can go by when everyone is sharing ideas and frustrations and questions and answers. Before I knew it, the morning was gone, lunch had been eaten, the lecture portion of the day was over, and it was time to do legitimate full-manual shooting - something I had rarely done before! (I'd been living in aperture-priority for a couple years.) 

We needed subjects to shoot, and fortunately, our friends M&A agreed to be in the awkward seat, letting us shamelessly photograph them for the rest of the day.

Practicing with manual flashes indoors to create soft, balanced light.
We practiced indoors to start, but everyone who has gotten married here or done some kind of photo shoot on this island knows that being outdoors is where it's at, so out to the beach we went.

What we were supposed to be working on: Managing the harsh afternoon Cayman sunshine.
What I was working on: Excluding sunbathers from the glamour shots. Thank you, crop function.
Speaking of harsh light, one way to deal with the blinding sunshine is to use a reflector to fill in those inevitable shadows.

RA: Both student and assistant.
With so many photographers in the group, I think we shot this couple from nearly every angle. Holly kept telling us to "walk around", and not remain satisfied with just the first shot we saw.

And when we couldn't get a good shot of the couple, we resorted to photographing each other.

For those of you who are my Facebook friends,
you'll recognize this as the other side of my cover photo. Thanks for the snap, RA!
I guess we must have looked like a bunch of paparazzi, because the neighbors were sure we were shooting movie stars.

And honestly, these two really could be famous. Gorgeous and happy!

Meanwhile, our non-photographer counterparts were up to their normal weekend activities.

NS was out kiting and managed to tangle the lines, which apparently was the least of his worries, because he also stepped on a sea urchin and is still feeling the effects of that misfortune.

BK handling the baggage. What a guy.
After a few final poses, we released M&A from the spotlight.

Trying to capture the "magical" light.

Thanks again to M&A for tolerating more than a dozen lenses simultaneously pointed your way! I learned a lot, thanks to the two of you!

Our last task of the day was to perfect our sunset shots, since we have so many real-life opportunities in Grand Cayman. In April, it's too early in the year to get a clear view of the sunset from our West Bay condo, so we headed down to West Bay Public Beach for a better view.

Since we had already released our models-de-jour, KK offered to put down her camera and let those of us who remained to do the snapping.

The trick with sunsets is getting a perfectly exposed background (which is pretty bright) and still properly lighting your subject in the foreground with a flash. Here Holly shows us how it's done.

Getting the combination of aperture, ISO, shutter speed, and flash strength can be tricky, so I'm glad our model was very patient.

A huge thank you to Holly for making the photo workshop a part of her vacation. I know I learned a lot through the lecture and hands-on interaction, and I am constantly inspired by Holly's creativity and beautiful shots. (Seriously: Check out her photo shoot with B&K. Speechless!)

(Note to self: April is too late in the year to see a clear sunset from West Bay Public Beach.
Oops. Still pretty though!)

For additional workshop photos, check out all my favorites here.


  1. I'd say you're an expert :)

  2. This looks like so much fun! I can only imagine what your neighbors were thinking ;)

  3. Heya¡­my very first comment on your site. ,I have been reading your blog for a while and thought I would completely pop in and drop a friendly note. . It is great

    stuff indeed. I also wanted to there a way to subscribe to your site via email?

    Photography Tour

    1. Thanks! Check out the "Follow by Email" function on the home page.