February 2017 Chester Academy Evening – Conceptual Photography

February Chester Academy Evening – Conceptual Photography

Thursday night at the Crowne Plaza hotel could only mean one thing, it was the Chester Welshot Academy evening. The vagaries of Chester traffic meant the delegates arrived in drips and drabs so to fill in time whilst we waited for our guest speaker, Lee gave those present an overview of the new SmugMug gallery functionality available to members. She explained some of the key tips for uploading images and encouraged members who have not already done so to take advantage of this benefit as part of their membership. It is of particular benefit to those members who wish to sell their work, the commission structure is simple and really it’s a no-brainer.

If you want more information, go and take a look at www.SmugMug.com

Just then, the door opened and Sadie, one of our models for the evening, followed by fine art photographer Karolina Skorek arrived. If you want to see more of her work, then head over to www.karolinaskorek.com where I think you will be inspired.

Karolina was born in Poland and is not only a fine art photographer, but an illustrator and artist as well. Having been a photographer for the last 12 years she confessed to never having been asked to do a presentation such as this before, but it was first class. I liked her straight away when she confessed to having fallen in love with Wales where she finds a lot of locations for her work! She then proceeded to take members through her amazing body of work.

It was really interesting to see the before and after images and to gain an insight into how creative and conceptual photo shoots come together. One of the points she made resonated loudly with me in that she explained that part of her inspiration is the journey her clients go on through the shoot process and how strong they feel once it is complete.

After a couple of short videos there was a question and answer session and Karolina shared some more insight into how she worked. Delegates were keen to understand how to get started on a conceptual shoot, she explained that she usually starts with an idea and sketches it out on paper, she was at pains to point out that you don’t have to be a great artist, a stick person with ideas and words written all-around will work just as well, the key is to be able to share what is in your head with your creative team.

Karolina confessed that she regularly makes her own props and is a copious collector of ephemera to be used in her photoshoots, looking at Sadie’s, Lee’s and Jen’s props, I think she was in very good company. Other questions included interest in where her commercial clients came from, and were she found much of her inspiration. Karolina was generous in her responses and I saw several delegates making notes of the same.

Lee then set a challenge to each of the two teams. One team would photograph Amelia in her ‘living doll’ outfit, the other group would shoot Sadie in her lost Valentine attire. Collectively the groups had just over an hour to come up with a concept, and then take turns to capture it on their cameras. In my team, Natasha took the lead and swiftly set the ball rolling, explaining that she saw Amelia as a castaway toy in the corner of a storeroom. Once members understood her idea, they set about styling the set with upturned chairs, fabrics, dead flowers and of course our wonderful model Amelia. The other team were kind to Sadie, and had her lying down on a bed of petals.

One of the great things about this evening was that members were free to arrange the lighting for their images. There was a real sense of collaboration across both groups in order to create some pretty amazing images.

Karolina threw herself into the evening with gusto and was on hand to provide guidance and support to the members about how they could achieve the images they had in their head. There was lots of creativity flying around the room the whole of the evening.

Random quote of the evening award has to go to Nuala O’Rourke. The debate on our table over supper revolved around members like and dislike of beans, as the conversation turned to green beans, broad beans and runner beans, Nuala voiced her view that the only green thing you should ever eat is jelly babies!

The group swapped over after supper and it was interesting to see the differences of approach to the different styled models.

Here are just a few images, created by Welshot members, who you have to bear in mind had not really tackled this type of activity before, I think they did brilliantly, don’t you?

I know from speaking with Lee at the end of the evening, that this will hopefully not be the only time that Karolina joins in a Welshot event, personally speaking I can’t wait!

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Tracy xx

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