The Strobist - David Hobby

The Strobist - David Hobby

I had the great fortune to get a seat last Sunday for David Hobby’s Strobist lighting seminar in Los Angeles. [If you're a student of lighting and just said "Stro-who?", then let me be the first to welcome you to our planet. Check out the Strobist site and we'll see you back here in a couple days.]

To say that a ticket to the Stobist workshop is a hot item is an understatement. Two days x 50 seats = 100 happy photogs. 24 hours = more time than it took for both seminars to sell out. If you’re among the legions who wished they could attend a Strobist workshop, then let me ease your pain (or pour salt on your wounds) by sharing some of the highlights of the day. [Read on, I promise you'll also find links to sources of info on virtually every concept presented during the seminar.]

Highlights of the Strobist Lighting Seminar

The whole day is about getting over the intimidation of using off-camera lighting. It’s also about making new friends and coming to understand that you don’t have to have a huge arsenal of gear to make striking photographs. Here are the highlights:

1. (For better or for worse…) You spend a day with David Hobby. David worked as a photojournalist for 20 years (the last 10 at The Baltimore Sun). This life experience of rapidly crafting stimulating photographs in the field with next to nothing is at the core of the Strobist psyche. (As far as I know) David has nothing to hide. He shares his insights and experiences freely (except for the cost of getting in the door… For the truly free version, read Strobist online.)

2. You meet 49 other Strobist affectionados. The day started with everyone introducing themselves to the group. Meeting David is cool. Getting in touch with a bunch of other local shooters who are trying to learn about off-camera lighting is… priceless. My tally showed that we had about 40 “amateurs” (those who shoot because they love to), a handful of “semi-pros” (those who shoot because they’re hoping to give up their day jobs someday) and a trio of “pros” (the weary and downtrodden, like me). Seriously, at any level, being in contact with a gang of local shooters is a great asset.

3. You see and fondle Strobist gear. David shows up with two carry-on sized suitcases filled with the very same gear that he writes about on Strobist — the same gear he uses on commercial shoots. Ever see a snoot made out of a spaghetti box? Haven’t checked out the cool snoots made by Honl? Seriously. David proves that there’s a gear solution for every point on the time-money continuum. [As in which to you have more of - time or money?]

Strobist Gear

4. You learn the 7 Strobist ways to control light. [Think of them as the Seven Noble Truths of Strobism.] David has done a brilliant job of breaking his approach to lighting into 7 distinct tasks. Freebie: they are listed here in the Lighting 102 series on Strobist, which you can check out for free. If you’re just starting out, you may want to look at Lighting 101 first.

5. You watch David craft a series of portraits using the concepts and gear that he’s just presented. Here’s a couple of shots of David in action.

Click here to see these two shots as captured by David. Each was a two light set-up. Really.

6. You can have a beer with David afterwards. As is typical of most (soon-to-be-extinct) newspaper shooters, after a hard day’s work, David hung out with a cold one in hand and talked shop for an hour or so. It wasn’t about lighting as much as it was about hanging out with photographers.

More insight into Strobist & David Hobby

1. What David started as a humble venture into blogging on February 28, 2006 has grown into an international community of photographers. There are more than 36,000 members in the Strobist group at Flickr. They have meetups around the world.

2. David’s still in it for the real photographers. Given that both Saturday and Sunday sold out within 24-hours, I asked him why he didn’t get a bigger room so that more than 50 people could attend each session. David said that he wanted the day to have an intimacy so that everyone could get their questions answered. “A group of 75 or 100″ David said, “turns this into a lecture”. Another attendee asked “if you can sell out 50 seats at $150, why not raise the price?” David’s response? “Then I’d end up with a bunch of rich doctors and lawyers rather than photographers who really need to learn this stuff.”

3. Will the Strobist workshop becoming to a town near you? Probably not, but don’t cry about it. David said that he plans on doing three seminar weekends in the fall and three in the spring. There’s a lot of the country in between these six lucky cities. Are you a jet setter or an ex-pat? Then, you can catch him (and a whole bunch of other great shooters) at Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai next March. Not heading to the Mideast next spring? Then, for $139, you can buy the Strobist Lighting Seminar DVD here.

How to get a ticket to a Strobist seminar

1. Read Strobist. When you see something like the following, pay attention. The LA seminar announcement appeared just below the Lighting Q and A on Friday, September 5. You’ll note at the end that it says “Registration opens on Sunday at 8:00am local time.” Even if you missed it on Friday, you could have caught the heads-up post by RSS. [If you don't use a web reader, click here to read my post about photography blogs and look for the section on RRS.]

The Heads-up about the LA Seminar - posted on Friday.

2. Don’t party on Saturday night. [You know who you are...]

3. Check out Strobist at 7:58am on Sunday morning and keep hitting the refresh button every couple of minutes whilst you rub the sleep out of your eyes. When you see the following, act without hesitation.

Registration opened - Sunday 8:00am Pacific.

4 Responses to Spending A Day With The Strobist

  1. Alan says:

    Nice review of a great day.

  2. [...] While a thousand or so photographers have taken David’s one-day Strobist workshop (reviewed here on PixSylated), this will be the first time that David has taught for five days with a small [...]

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