As I scrolled through my Facebook feed, a message caught my eye. Scott Robert Lim was coming to Alexandria, Virginia for a workshop! My eyes widened and I smiled. Attending a workshop hosted by this inspiring photographer had been on my “Life’s Goals” list for a while, so to see that he was coming so close to my hometown really lit the fire under me to attend. I frantically typed in response to Scott’s advertisement…there was still one spot left! I quickly purchased my ticket and did a little happy dance. I was elated that I finally had a chance to learn in person from one of the best photographers in the industry!
I had seen and purchased three of his classes on Creative Live, and loved Scott’s upbeat, funny and easy method of teaching. I learned an incredible amount seeing and understanding just how light works, and experimenting on my own. But learning from him in person really blew me away. Because not only did I learn posing and lighting techniques, I also learned from him exactly what I needed to do to improve. Move the light higher, off to the side more, move the model this way…all of these micro changes greatly impacted the final image. As he explains in his classes, understanding where the light is coming from, and using it masterfully every single time elevates the look and quality of one’s images and portraits.
We had the opportunity to shoot in a variety of locations around Old Town Alexandria, from taking pictures right in the middle of the cobblestone roads, to the beautiful shoreline. We practiced overpowering the sun, using the sun as a backlight, and exposing for the background to make our main subject “pop” using our off camera flash. We finished our day excitedly talking about where we’ve come in photography and where we want to go, over food and drinks.
I excitedly told my husband what I had learned. He was so happy that I learned a lot and that I had such a wonderful time. Earlier that day, I had thought to myself how awesome it would be to assist Scott Robert Lim on a wedding. That, I thought, would be an amazing experience to have, but it’s never gonna happen! Little did I know that in a few short hours I would be assisting and shooting with this Master of Light.
I noticed a Facebook notification out of the corner of my eye. Usually I have all of my notifications off, but I had it on from the day before, to keep in touch with Scott’s Workshop. What I read next made me laugh out loud in disbelief and happiness. Scott asked if I was available that afternoon, to assist with a wedding reception that he had in Virginia! Umm, yeah!! I quickly told him that I’d be there, and thanked him for the amazing opportunity. Well in a few short hours, I was in Old Town again, but this time about to live my dream, of working with Award Winning Photographer, Scott Robert Lim!! I had to tell myself, this is really happening, keep it together man! lol
It was nothing short of amazing seeing how Scott effortlessly handled the wedding day. Gathering family, and close friends for family portraits using off camera flash (in the rain), keeping little ones happy as they posed with the bride and groom, taking beautiful pictures of the first dance, creating a slide show for the bride and groom. He handled all of these situations and more with fine tuned skill and professionalism. In every instance, he always brought his infectious humor and laugh to the table, which always made everyone smile.
Towards the end of the evening, he asked if I’d like to help with shooting the dancing. “Do you know how to set up the lighting?” he asked. “Yes! I set it up just like you do in your videos, I do this setup at all my weddings now!” I excitedly responded. “Go for it!” He said enthusiastically. So off I went to set up the lighting for the dance floor. It was already packed with guests, dancing to the base of the latest song. But I quickly setup the three lights, and made sure everything was secure. Scott asked if I wanted to take pictures of the dancing, because he was working on the slide show. “Sure!” I said over the music. So there I was, shooting the dancing for Scott’s wedding. Amazing, I thought to myself. Just yesterday, I was wishing that I would have the opportunity to do something like this, and it was actually happening!
After taking many happy shots of the guests and group requests, I caught up with Scott to see his sideshow. It was really beautiful. The bride and groom looked happily on as pictures of their day appeared one after the other on the screen. Their family crowded in, excitedly taking in every image.
Scott remembered that he wanted to take a detail of the groom’s cuff links, so he setup the shot and showed me his technique. He calls it “Sandwiching the Light”. It’s when you take your subject and light them from both behind them and in front of them, “sandwiching them” in between the two light sources. I had never thought of trying this technique with stationary objects. So I gathered candles from other tables, and put them behind the cuff links, and he put two candles on either side of them as well. He had me shine a video light from above and use my hands to cover the light a bit, to allow just a sliver of light to hit the small pieces. Click, click, click. He had me adjust the light a bit more to reduce it further. After a couple more pictures, he had it! And the result was beautiful! He captured not only the cuff links, but also the lights far in the background, which added to the beauty of the image.
“Do you want to try??” he asked me. “Sure, but I’m not sure if the rings will fit on my lens.” He said “Well let’s try it!”. So he put the magnification rings on my lens and said “Aww, look at that! It fits!!” So I smiled and giddily tried my hand at it too. He gave me some pointers…shoot low, to include the bokeh that’s coming from the background lights, rest the lens right on the end of the table to stabilize the lens so there’s no shake, focus manually to get the image clear. Click…click, click. I examined each image and showed Scott. He encouraged me and we fine-tuned the overhead video light some more, and I took a couple more shots. Satisfied and elated, I looked at my set of images with new-found exuberance, even though it was well along in the evening. I thanked Scott for all the advice, and we started to pack up for the evening as the night wound down.
It was an unforgettable, fun experience, and I learned so much from Scott! He is just as funny and kind as he is in his training videos, and it was a pleasure and honor to assist him. Thank you Scott for this once in a lifetime opportunity! =)