Cigarettes, Wine and 4 Gig Cards

Cigarettes Wine and 4 Gig Cards

Sometimes in life, things tend to happen and then things tend to flow to other activities.

This blog is to explain one of those times.

Back in the summer I was looking for a book to take on holiday that I could read and get something from concerning my photography. Having searched Amazon I bought a book that taught skills for fashion photography, not just technical camera skills but also the whole process of arranging shoots, from first inception to final output.

I bought Bruce Smith’s book and was reading it on holiday a couple of those pennies dropped.

So when following my social media one evening I noted that Bruce was holding a portrait session in Liverpool on a Friday using natural light. This was an opportunity not to be missed so the workshop was booked following an email back from Bruce to say that I had gained a place.

I tipped off my good friend and fellow photographer Tracy Edwards about the day who also took the opportunity to sign up. We arranged to go together and I picked Tracy up at our meet up location and headed off to Liverpool.

On the way there I was having a minor panic as the route I took, took us through Liverpool from the South, and the clock was ticking down to the start time of 10 o’clock.

We did arrive on time and were greeted by the ebullient and barefooted  Bruce. He invited us into his house and made us feel very welcome and introduced us to the other TOGS that were on the course.  All of the Togs were extremely friendly and it was good to see fellow Welshotter Phil too.

He then asked each of us about our photography and what we liked. The models for the day arrived and they were introduced to us. Stacey and Eva went off to make up whilst Bruce explained to us how we would work and how he would endeavour to show us techniques using natural light reflectors to achieve stunning portraits. He then showed us some of his portraits on his computer to show us the end result of what could be done using only natural light.

Bruce also showed was an image of a Bride where he had used  five flash heads externally flashing through the windows to light the bride which was quite stunning.

Models were ready and in came Stacey for the first set up.

The shoot was to be taken by the bow window with light streaming in, reflectors put into position to light up Stacey’s face.

At this point Bruce’s style of photography really started to kick in. Whilst talking to and motivating the model  to pose he shot continuously whilst looking through his viewfinder, till he got the look that he needed, his verbal direction increasing in volume after every word to a crescendo of WOW WOW WOW. He was clearly connecting with model and showed us the results on the screen on the rear of his camera. His four gig card filled up in no time at all.

Suffice it to say the results were absolutely breath taking.

It was then our turn to shoot Stacey individually, which we did with Bruce in attendance whilst the other Togs went outside for a chat. This for me was a great as I know that photographing models in the presence of others can be quite a challenge.

During my turn I was encouraged, and I repeat encouraged to talk louder and direct the model in a more robust fashion, which I will admit is miles outside my comfort zone. Use words like “passion fabulous amazing gorgeous stunning beautiful” were the words that Bruce encouraged me to use in order that connection could be made with model to make you feel fabulous and to get that extra 10% that would make an ordinary portrait something extra special. I have to say that Stacey was really lovely to work with as well as being very beautiful.

I checked the results on the back of my camera and I was amazed with the quality I was achieving.

My turn had finished at the setup I went outside to the other Togs will admit that I was absolutely worn out, but the whole experience was incredible.


It was then Evas turn to be photographed, in another setup but also by the bay window. Bruce shot first and filled yet another four gig card within a few minutes. He then asked us to work in teams to hold reflectors and encourage each other. Tracy and I worked together and again our results were extremely pleasing.


The day continued with shoots in the front garden, and as a light moved round we ended up in Bruce’s bathroom, yes Bruce’s bathroom, for the final set up of the day. Light was streaming in through the bathroom window being diffused by the blind. Reflectors were used to light up Stacey in order that great shots could be taken.


At the end of the course Bruce asked us all whether we have enjoyed the course and the feedback from all Togs was very positive.

As stated above Bruce is an extremely ebullient character who told us of his love of cigarettes and wine, his other vices.

From this day forth I hope to take forward the lessons learnt and Bruce’s workshop in order that my skills and photographing people in natural light will achieve better results, i.e. to get the extra 10%.

I must also mention that without the training and skills that I have learnt with Lee and Eifion at Welshot I would never have contemplated attending the day such as this, so credit to them.

Thanks also go to Tracy for her good company as ever, and I look forward to more collaborations with Tracy in the coming period. Watch out Jaime, Georgia, Sammie, Rachel and Shannon.

I should also make time to attend Bruces other events when time and my wife will allow.


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