Do This: Sara Lando in US for Workshops in August

Whatcha doing in mid/late August? If you are within striking distance of Baltimore or Atlanta, you have a one-off chance to do something cool and fun that will change the way you approach your photography: spend a day (or two) with Italian conceptual portrait photographer Sara Lando.

After spending a couple years convincing her to come to the US, Zack Arias and I are this summer hosting Sara for two weekends of seminars and workshops in Atlanta and Baltimore. We are doing this because A) it's an awesome experience (trust us on that) and B) it's a lot easier than getting all you guys over to Dubai for Gulf Photo Plus.

Speaking of GPP, fun fact: instructors there get to sit in on any seminars/workshops they want on their day off. No offense to Arias, McNally, Heisler, etc., but I chose to sit in on Sara's classes during any chunk of free time that I had. And I learned a lot.

Sara marches to the beat of her own drummer, which is to say she's different. And she's different in a way that illuminates a critical blind spot for many photographers. She comes at her craft from a completely different and unique direction that fills a lot of gaps in my own (admittedly technically-based) thought process.

Her series on the psychology of portraiture was literally the most popular set of posts on Strobist in 2012, when they appeared. She's grown considerably as a photographer since then, as well as in her ability to communicate her thought process to other shooters.

Three Choices—Or Choose All Three

Sara is doing three classes in each city—two half-day seminars on Saturday and a small-class, full-day shooting workshop on Sunday. (The Sunday classes are all full.)

You can sign up for any or all. The two larger-size classes (morning and afternoon on Saturday) also offer a combo discount.

Sat. AM: Rethink Your Approach to Portraiture

Saturday morning's class, entitled Behind the Portrait, is an exploration into about a thousand things you probably have not thought of in your own approach to photographing people.

Having spent some time in this class, I can tell you that it was both illuminating and painful. I was learning so many little things, yet wincing all along as I realized the lost opportunities I had previously squandered because I am far, far too technically oriented for my own good.

I think f/stops and shutter speeds and lighting when I should be thinking word association and gesture and subtext and connections and more stuff like that than I care to admit.

Are you the same way? Saturday morning will be about fixing that.

Sat. PM: Throw Away the Rules

The Saturday afternoon class is a seminar on the use of mixed media with/after your photography. In some ways, it is like taking your photography back to kindergarten art class. In others, it is as if you took it to a grad school psychology class.

To get an idea of where her free-form cardboard/string/tape/cotton-ball techniques have taken her, take a moment to visit the website for Magpies, the utterly unique project she produced using some of her home-grown multimedia techniques.

Quick story from her Dubai class, which will probably piss her off for my telling it. One couple was emotionally moved by her multimedia work to the point where they wanted her to shoot their wedding in that style.

But Sara's not a wedding photographer. Not does she want to be. The very thought of being one terrifies her. So she asked them the date, and politely explained that she was previously engaged to shoot on that day.

So they offered to change their wedding date to accommodate her. She had painted herself into a corner with what should have been a rock-solid bluff. So she shot their wedding.

My point: maybe you're a wedding shooter, a portrait shooter or whatever. I'm just saying it is possible there are doors you have yet to walk through that offer entirely new possibilities and potential for your work, be it personal or professional.

The Saturday morning and afternoon classes (8/16 in ATL and 8/23 in Baltimore) are $99 each, or $159 for both. The 8/23 location, which I am hosting, is in Columbia, MD., between Baltimore and Washington. It's a great spot, with several great lunch choices within a two-minute walk. (Full details coming soon to attendees.)

Sunday: Small Class (Shooting) Portrait Workshop

PLEASE NOTE: The Sunday classes have already been filled.

If Saturday is a classroom experience with a full class size, Sunday's is an all-day small class, with 14 people max. This session includes both specialized instruction and hands-on shooting. There will be models onsite, and lunch is included (speaking here for Baltimore, you'll have to ask Zack for ATL.)

I popped into this class, too, while filming for my Lynda Travel project in Dubai. We were on a tight filming schedule, but I so wanted to stay longer.

If Dubai was any indication, we'll need some water and some large tarpaulins, among other things. I have not yet gotten my full marching orders from Sara, but I stand willing and able to execute. After all, I get to be onsite for this one all day.

The all-day small-class shooting workshop is $350, and you can get more details here. (This class is filled.)

I Think Heisler's Wrong

In 2012 I engineered a week in which Sara would assist for photographer Greg Heisler for a week at Gulf Photo Plus. You may remember her writing about the experience here on Strobist.

Greg and I both thought Magpies was amazing. While talking about it, he looked at me and said, "You know, you can't teach that."

At the moment, I agreed. And maybe in some ways he is right. But I also realize that Sara's time with him was as an assistant/Strobist mole and she was super-busy just taking in as much as she could.

But the next year, attending her classes at GPP, I became increasingly of the mind that, yes, there is a lot of what she does that can be taught. And I was only too happy to be there taking notes. Just like I will be this time.

Sara will not turn you into a rubber stamp of herself. And nor would you want that. But spending time with her has opened up a few new channels in my brain that has changed the way I think about shooting people.

I highly recommend the experience as an ideal way to cap off your summer and charge up your creative batteries as you head into fall. Don't miss this.

Full Details and Sign-Up Info:

:: Sara Lando US Workshops, August 2014 ::


Atlanta: 8/16 - 8/17
Baltimore: 8/23 - 8/24


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