One additional note about my Studio Portrait Lighting Class at Craftsy.com...

Since I am an instructor I am able to offer my Visual Science Lab followers the class at a 25% discount.
If you click through this link you'll get the discounted price: Kirk's Studio Portrait Lighting Class.

Thanks, Kirk

Studio Portrait Lighting

My Studio Portrait Lighting class launched on Craftsy.com This Morning.

Here's my big announcement: My two and a half hour course on Studio Portrait Lighting launched on Craftsy.com this morning. Here's the information page about my course on their website: Kirk's Studio Lighting Course.  If you go there you can scroll down the page and find a two minute video trailer that gives you detailed info and gives you an idea of the production values Craftsy.com brought to the project.

But let me back up and explain this all a little better...

Craftsy.com is a relatively new company located in Denver, Colorado. They create online education programs on a number of different subjects. They started out making classes about crafts (things like knitting, embroidery, even oil painting) and they are expanding to include food and cooking, more fine arts and now photography.  Their aim is to be the biggest and the best arts, crafts and all around education site on the web.

Craftsy.com is bringing in accomplished people in their fields who have written books and practiced their specialties for years and, with an accomplished crew of video producers, editors, and veteran camera operators, work with tight content outlines to produce well edited programs.  The programs are constructed as a series of 15 to 30 minutes segments that move logically through the information. 

The editors at Craftsy called me after researching my books and my blogs and asked me if I'd be interested in spending the better part of a week in Denver, working ten hour days, to create a program that shows people how I approach studio portrait lighting. From gear selection to posing to various lighting designs. I loved the idea.

The reason I loved the idea is that I've taught a lot of live workshops and I always felt that there had to be a better way to teach for both the students and the photographer teaching the class. A video workshop is a much better value for everyone involved. The students get to see the information with all the gaps and stop-and-starts edited out. It's much easier to keep the program focused and on task. Once the students buy a Craftsy.com workshop they can go back to it again and again to review concepts and to see details. Craftsy adds more value by having the instructors participate in a private online forum that's open to all the students of the class to answer questions about the material presented and to share information.

One of my last live workshops was a daylong event at the One World Theater in Austin. We had about 50 participants. Since it was a new space for us we had a few delays getting up and running. Even though we were in a big theater space it was hard for everyone to see and hear, in detail, what we were demo-ing. It's just not possible for 50 people to walk up and look into the finder of the camera or at the screen on the back...  And once I finished a marathon day we were spent. We had no workable way to answer individual questions. No way to continue adding value.

With a Craftsy workshop the students pay $59 and they can watch the program they've purchased again and again. Forever. There is also a very active community around the workshops. When I explored their website I found forums, specific to each class, for questions and answers as well as places to for students and instructors to share projects with everyone.

When the team at Craftsy filmed my class they did it the way a professional crew would film a television show. They used two or three cameras for most scenes and provided both wide and detailed shots that made it easy to see exactly what I was talking about. And while it felt strange to wear a lavalier microphone for 10 hours a day the resulting sound is great. Much better than seat 5, row D at the live workshop.

You can go to the site and see how the program is constructed. I'm covering basics like hard and soft light, types of modifiers, color control, some posing and a lot of my favorite style of portrait lighting. I worked with a model named, Victoria, so you can see demos of how the lighting turns out.  If you want to take the course you can do so without trepidation because Craftsy.com has a Full Satisfaction, Money Back Guarantee. If you don't like the course, if it's not your cup of tea, just ask for a refund.

I think the value proposition is great. The cost of the course, in my Universal Latte scale, equals just 13 large lattes from Starbucks (10, if you are in an airport...). And if you ever wanted to see what I really sound like then this is your chance to find out. I watched the entire program last night---for the very first time---and I really liked it. If you want to learn my style of lighting and shooting you probably will like the course as well.

Finally, the best thing about doing a workshop online is that instead of traveling around the country for weeks at a time doing live workshops I'm all done. Which means I'll be here blogging for you nearly every day instead of trying to get all my lighting gear in the overhead compartment of some tired jet heading for Des Moines... If you are interested in giving the Studio Portrait Lighting Workshop a try please click through the advertisement  below (or, this link) and I'll get credit for sending you there. Big brownie points for me! I think you'll like the course. If you don't you haven't risked a thing.  Thanks for your support. 

Studio Portrait Lighting

What am I thinking about reading in Chinese this Summer? All about Studio Lighting...

In 2009 Amherst Media published my book on Studio Lighting. Frankly it was a fun book to write and a nice follow on to the Location Lighting book I'd done the year before. Last year I discovered that the book was available in Chinese. I found it on Amazon.com but the price was astronomical. A few days ago I checked in to see how the books were selling and I found the Chinese version again but this time the price was much more in line with the original English version. I did what any self possessed writer would do and ordered a copy. 

I think I will leave it purposefully laying about the studio when clients come over. Maybe it will spark interesting conversations. I sat down last night to leaf through and see how the translation worked until I remembered that I don't know how to read Chinese at all. I flipped through the book and enjoyed the memory of making the various images.  The one thing I really about the book was my face on the front cover, partially covered with Chinese characters which I presume spell out my name.

This will sound like a plug but....I really like this book. Not the Chinese version which I am certain is very good and very well done, but the original book. I read it again this Summer and although the gear continues to change the basics are right on the money. I fear that the book is in the "long tail" curve of its life and I would advise you to snap up as many copies as you possibly can before it goes out of print and becomes unavailable. The actual title is:  Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Studio Photography.  Drop by the studio and I'll be happy to sign your copy.....

Studio Portrait Lighting

What am I reading this Summer? Well, there is this novel by K.B. Dixon....

This is the third book of K.B. Dixon's I've read. I just finished it and my initial response was that the book made me calmly amused. Which is a wonderful thing in our frenetic, bouncy, jangly, lives. Dixon doesn't write the traditional novel. He works in paragraphs and pages of loosely interconnected thoughts and observations. The thread that holds this collage of domestic and professional vignettes together is that of an author looking for his next...idea, story, concept. He considers writing a book about an accountant who is trying to devise a spreadsheet that will inform him how NOT to waste any personal time in his life. 

The main character flows through the process of living his live, engaging with his wife, and looking for the inspiration to generate content. It's sounds eerily familiar to nearly all of my friend's lives.  The character comments on the bleak nature of a painter friend's canvases since the demise of painter's romance.  He counsels a friend, in very oblique ways, to extricate himself from a relationship with a crazy person.

Here is a beautifully worded passage from one of his warnings to his friend:

"As for your wayward fan, I agree a certain sort of friendly concern would be normal under normal circumstances, but as we both know, the circumstances as they pertain to Ms. Keen are not normal. Your worry about the rightness or wrongness of a strategic withdrawal seems pointlessly punishing."

He considers writing a "true life" crime novel, does the research, may have solved the crime, but ultimately rejects the idea as the framework for a book.

The book, and Dixon's style, appeal to me because it follows the idea of making literature compelling because it is believable. These are lives that we live in our demographics. We don't worry so much about hunger as we do editorial rejection, or getting tenure, or keeping track of our competitor's success in grabbing pieces of the pie.

Reading Dixon's work always makes me feel smarter and more connected to a satisfied strata of culture that  might long for just a little more but from the comfortable perch of having more than enough...

I recommend his books to people who like to feel the sound of words as they read. I recommend his books to people who suppose their own ennui is somehow unique and gift-like. But mostly I recommend his books because the arc of their loosely connected stories makes me smile.

The two previous K.B. Dixon books that I enjoyed include:


Both were fun to read and contemplate. But a warning for my ultra-literal brethren: The book, The Photo Album, contains no actual photographs, rather it contains whimsical descriptions of photographs, imagined by the author which move the collage of the story along.... 

Another milestone noted. VSL hits fifteen million pageviews.

How time flies when you're having fun...

To date I've posted about 1620 blog articles and just this morning, as I waited for Ben to get ready for cross country practice, I was reading your comments from last night and I happened to look at the stats for the site. Just as I clicked into the stats the numbers rolled over to 15,000,000 and I thought it was a fun coincidence.  

After swim practice this morning I'm going to write a blog about my Denver project with Craftsy.com. The project launched last night and I'm happy with the way it turned out. Please drop back by and have a read. Now we're off to hit the trail and the pool. Ben running with his cross country team and me with my swim team.  See you for coffee...

Studio Portrait Lighting