In the words of a student of one of these wonderful fashion photography courses and fine art nude photography courses run by Bruce Smith.
“Some things you just can’t learn from fashion or fine art nude photography How To Shoot Books, Youtube Videos or DVD’s”
I could have bought all the fashion and figure photography books on Amazon, and not learned what I did in a few days with Bruce, which he himself learned from decades of successful work in the industry. In September 2015 I joined Bruce in a chateau near Bordeaux, France for a four-day, one-to-one workshop in ‘sensual fashion.’ We had two models, an excellent hair and make-up artist, and a photogenic, characterful location. By the end, without doubt, the course had left an indelible mark on my stylistic development and competency as a photographer, for which I’m very grateful.
Bruce is obviously an accomplished photographer and renowned authority.
He is also an excellent instructor and personable coach—an invaluable combination. Much of what I learned from him was through his selflessly attentive coaching: unique feedback about how I performed in the situations he’d set up with the models, location and brief.
Irreplaceable and empowering.
Bruce broke down technical issues in straightforward language, and could immediately see and explain what I was doing and how it could be improved.
I grew a lot as a photographer over just a few days. By the end, he shadowed me on shots that I set up. I decided to take the course with Bruce to explore a part of photography I was interested in, but found very inaccessible looking at the sector from the outside.
Previously, I had started to professionalize my passion for photography, and eventually produced documentary photo essays that were later published.
As a journalistic style, this focused on observation and visual documentation of a social issue but wanting to develop in a different area of photography, to have beautiful images and to eventually become commercially viable, I looked to begin developing in fashion and figure photography.
However, my previous documentary photography skills were mismatched for fashion and figure.
Any photographer can take a pleasing photo of a model, but it requires difficult development to much higher levels if you want to break through in the industry.
To generate and capture the life and story of a shot in fashion, lingerie or figure photography, which makes all the difference between strong but mediocre shots and first rate shots which the industry expects, demands different skills from which most photographers have or think about, which are neither innate nor obvious.
So, I wanted to learn directly from an expert.
After some time with Bruce, I understand these different skills, these powerful nuances, and now have a strong foundation to continue my professional and artistic development in this area.
I learned a lot about line, shape, form and tone—as one does in all photo workshops, but more importantly—and rarely—how to control the situation, the set, natural light and human energy, to produce stunning photographs.
We never once used a studio light throughout the course, focusing on natural light skills to build a better understanding of available light and how to use it to its best rather than too much emphasis on equipment.
I still have much photographic ‘testing’ ahead of me, but Bruce has guided me on the right path, and immensely grateful. The course setting was beautiful, and offered aspects for both studio and location shooting.
In a restored chateau outside Bordeaux, we shot mornings and afternoons inside and out, and had learning sessions in-between shots, over good coffee.
The hospitality was excellent, and made the experience not only highly instructive, but also relaxing and pleasurable.
I have a busy and stressful job elsewhere in the world, so it was heartening to not only learn from a master of photography, but also to enjoy good food and wine, sunshine, woods for running, and a pool to relax by.
The chateau is owned by a young European family, who also live there with a range of pets and animals; the place brimmed with life, and they made me feel part of the family whilst I was there—from scrambled eggs on toast in the morning in the kitchen, right down to wine by the fireplace in the evening.
If you’re serious about starting to break into upper-industry standards of fashion, lingerie and figure photography, are open-minded, and time is precious.