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Monday, May 5, 2008

Making A Connection

One well-traveled photographer shares her insights on approaching, composing and lighting memorable portraits, and on learning from the pros

PCPhoto: How are you lighting your portraits?

connectionsEvers: I use off-camera flash. I use two Nikon SB-800 Speedlights, both set to i-TTL mode, and a wireless Nikon SU Commander to control the flashes. I underexpose the ambient exposure and increase the power of my SB-800s. The background will be underexposed, with the person being properly exposed by the flash. On overcast days, I use warming gels on the flash and set my white balance to incandescent to make the colors pop. The off-camera flash system allows me to shoot during harsh lighting conditions that would normally leave my subjects' faces underexposed or in silhouette. I love shooting these stylized portraits this way to show how amazing people are from other cultures by lighting them in a way that heightens their uniqueness.

PCPhoto: You're also active in producing photography workshops. What have you learned from your experiences doing this?

connectionsEvers: I've been producing photography workshops for almost five years. I have a huge portfolio of images from these workshops that I'm looking forward to editing and marketing. During the workshops, I learned from every single pro photographer, but my work changed mostly when I worked with Dave Black and Tom Bol. They really pushed me to go to the "next level." Among their techniques, they taught me location lighting using off-camera flash with the SB-800s. Every pro photographer has something different to offer, and fortunately for me, I was able to learn from and shoot with the best.

My travel and exposure to different cultures also opened my eyes to the needs of the world.

PCPhoto: You mention that through your workshops and your photography you want to do some good in the world. How can photography do that?

connectionsEvers: Doing a workshop and spending money in a less fortunate country does some good in the world because it supports the country's people and economic growth. Also, the power of a photograph taken in these countries can educate people and bring attention and awareness where it's needed. I also feel like I'm doing some good in the world through photography by choosing to be involved with companies like Photo Quest Adventures. They donate a percentage of their profits to various charities in the countries they visit, they offset carbon emissions from their travel-related activities and they partner with organizations such as Sustainable Travel International.

PCPhoto: What does the workshop environment do for both beginning and experienced photographers?

Evers: I think photography workshops for any photographer, regardless of their skill level, can only have a positive influence on their photography. The workshop environment is an amazing place to learn, not only from the pro photographers, but also from fellow students. When workshops are combined with travel, the experience is endless and can go way beyond the photography. Friendships develop, and students often come away with a rich cultural experience and a deeper appreciation of the world's diversity.

To see more of Mirjam Evers' work, visit her website at www.mirjamevers.com.


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