A Festive Photography Masterclass ft Viking Direct

Picture this; a cocktail bar, canapes, Christmas decorations galore and a room full of bloggers with cameras let loose on props, lights and other photography tools. That’s a brief insight into how last Wednesday night was. Back in July, the lovely Jennie from Search Laboratory invited me to a giffgaff event and she very kindly invited me back this month for a Christmas themed photography masterclass sponsored by Viking Direct. This invite came at the absolute perfect time as I was feeling a little bit in a rut with my blog photography. I felt like I just kept recycling the same old set-up and I needed some inspiration – this is where Elouisa Georgiou completely saved my bacon. She absolutely showered me in lots of useful photography knowledge, opening my mind to so many more options in terms of taking photos that I can apply to my blog. I will talk you through exactly what we got up to during this masterclass and share everything that I’ve learnt.

The event was held at Dirty Martini in Birmingham, a fairly new venue that opened its doors back in April of this year. I’m usually more of a ‘stay at home in bed with a cup of tea and a takeaway pizza’ kind of girl so I hadn’t yet visited Dirty Martini. However, I’d heard lots of people raving about their cocktails so I was very excited to try some out. I was greeted on arrival by the lovely Alice from Search Laboratory who offered me a raspberry Bellini, just what I needed after the day I’d had at work. Admittedly I’m typically a wallflower when it comes to social events so I automatically took a seat in the corner, far too anxious to talk to anybody. Fortunately, there were quite a few bloggers that made a special effort to include me in their conversations which I was really thankful for. I soon started to feel a little more relaxed and was excited to see what was in store for the masterclass.

After a while of mingling and drinking cocktails, Elouisa had us all sit down for a short presentation of the plan for the evening. The night was split into two different activities, the first activity focusing on lighting and the second based around the use of reflection and diffraction. We were given the task of creating an image using these elements as a guide and a winner would be chosen at the end. The prize was a Canon Pixma TS5050 printer supplied by Viking which I was particularly lusting after as it does an amazing job of printing photos without destroying the quality. This is such an ideal prize for anyone who loves photography. I’ve been wanting to start scrapbooking for a while so it would mean I could easily print the images that I want, whenever I want. Viking also supply the paper and ink cartridges required as well as similar printers so you can easily access everything you need all in one place.

We formed into smaller groups and the activities commenced – for the lighting-based task, Elousia supplied each group with an LED light strip and gave us a brief demonstration on how to use them. There were various tables set up around the room with dinner sets and Christmas decorations for us to use as props for our photos. We were given a plain white light as well as some sheets of coloured acetate; all you do is wrap the acetate around the light and it can completely change the mood and dimensions of your photos. For example, the blue colouring made our photos look colder and made me think of Winter whereas the red colouring felt a lot warmer and cosier. You can also layer the acetate up to make the colour harsher depending on the vibe you want to create in your image. I definitely need to get myself an LED light strip as they’re absolutely perfect in Winter when you’re struggling for natural light!

We were also given large pieces of thick white card which Elouisa told us helps to bounce the light around the whole image rather than only lighting up a particular side. This works really well with anything plain white you having lying around the house such as bed sheets or even just plain pieces of paper. It just goes to show that you don’t necessarily have to spend much money to achieve professional looking images.

It’s also worth noting that I did a very “me” thing and forgot the memory card for my camera (for an event specifically based around photography, good job Alice) so I had to improvise by using my phone to take all of my photos for the competition. This knocked my confidence so much initially, I was thinking that I had absolutely no chance of producing any decent images, let alone winning the competition. However, I actually ended up really loving how some of them came out. I’ve definitely picked up some useful skills in this sense and although I love my camera to bits, it’s good to feel a little more confident that I can still produce great images when I’m without it.

For the second activity, we were given different objects such as water bottles, glasses and prisms. Elouisa gave us a demonstration on how to use these to produce reflections in your images and give them more of an abstract feel. She showed us different ways in which to hold the prism against your lens in order to create different effects and then we were sent off to experiment. I felt so out of my depth at the start of this task as I’d never done anything like this before. With my blog photos, I usually stick to perfectly placed objects and simplistic props but this activity opened my mind to a lot more possibilities. The prisms create such amazing patterns and are really versatile, I could have spent hours creating millions of different images.

After the activities were over, we were given some time to choose one image that would be printed off to be entered into the competition. We were all asked to explain why we chose this image, how we created it and where we would use it to help Elouisa decide on the winner. I went for the below photo which I chose because I was actually really impressed that I’d taken this image on my camera phone and it’s so unlike any other images I’ve ever produced. I used the prism and held the edge right up to my lens which created a double reflection that I thought looked really interesting. I think this would look really cool on a canvas, poster or in a frame in a bar or club and it would make a really interesting t-shirt print as well.

There were so many incredible photos, it was clear to see that the room was full of talented people and I would have been so stuck having to make a decision. I was actually feeling as though I had no chance of being even close to winning as there were so many amazing images but to my pleasant surprise, I was actually head to head with the winner! Although I didn’t quite make the top photo, second place definitely isn’t too shabby at all and again proves that a camera phone can work wonders.

Thank you so much to Search Laboratory for inviting me along to another fabulous event and a huge thank you to Elouisa for teaching me some very valuable photography tips, as well as boosting my confidence about what I can achieve with my images!

What’s your number one photography tip?

1 Comment

  1. December 9, 2018 / 12:06 am

    I love this post Alice and would love to attend an event like this – I need all the help I can get with photography as I’m ever the amateur! The only tip I have is lighting is everything – I’ve looked back on a load of my old photos and can see what a difference some natural light can make to a photo, although the one you submitted is bloody amazing and something I don’t think I’d ever be able to create! ❤️❤️

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