Training byLumiere is a photography training school set up by Nikon UK ambassador Kate Hopewell-Smith and Brent Kirkman for people who want to be full-time professional photographers. In addition to a 6 month Foundation program, Training ByLumiere offers a series of workshops covering a variety of subjects from gaining confidence with weddings to re-touching techniques and post-production workflow.
I attended a half-day workshop called ‘Learn to Love Your Speedlight’ which is ByLumiere’s most popular half-day workshop.
Training byLumiere Learn to Love your Speedlight review: Who’s it aimed at?
The workshop is aimed at experienced photographers who want to understand how to take control of their flashgun and there’s a maximum of 9 delegates. The majority of the delegates on the course I attended were professional photographers who shoot weddings and social events. Most used their flashgun(s) to some extent but they didn’t really feel that they were in charge of it or getting the best from it. The remaining photographers were experienced amateurs who clearly had a good grounding in the basics of exposure etc.
Kate was quick to reassure everyone that she was willing to answer any questions that people had along the way and was keen to emphasise the necessity to understand the basics before moving on.
Training byLumiere Learn to Love your Speedlight review: What’s covered?
The workshop began with an overview of flashguns and the features that are important including aspects such as output, tilt, rotation and zoom and even the right type of batteries to use. We then progressed onto sync speed and the principles of how flash works with a camera before looking at exposure, flash modes, flash location and modifiers. Once all the technicalities were covered Kate spent some time explaining how she lights different subjects in a variety of conditions to get attractive, natural results. This is where Kate’s extensive experience as a working photographer really came to the fore with many interesting examples to illustrate key points.
On the Training byLumiere website it states that this is not a portfolio-building course, it’s about knowledge building. With this in mind, there’s only a very short practical session involved in the 4 hour course. This was to ensure everyone understood the basic principle of setting ambient and flash exposure along with setting the flash at the right angle. The rest of the workshop built on this in a logical manner.
Training byLumiere Learn to Love your Speedlight review: What do I need to take?
It’s advisable to take your camera, lens and flashgun to enable you relate the course information to your gear and for use during the short practical session.
ByLumiere provides bound notes with all the slides shown during the course and pens are on hand if you want to jot-down any extra snippets of information. This enables you to focus on the information rather than scribble incessantly.
Training byLumiere Learn to Love your Speedlight review: venue
The workshop is held in Kate and Brent’s beautiful home in rural Buckinghamshire and there’s adequate parking either on the driveway or along the street outside.
Seated around the kitchen table, participants were immediately put at ease by the friendly, relaxed environment and Brent’s excellent tea and coffee making skills. Sweet treats were also made available along with water and an open invitation to make further tea and coffee.
Training byLumiere Learn to Love your Speedlight review: Verdict
Such a theory-based workshop may not be for everyone, but by ensuring the basics are covered and understood at the beginning and then discussing real-life shooting situations, from the dream-shoot to the absolute nightmare, Kate kept her audience engaged and enthused. The course is structured extremely well so that although a lot of information is covered in a relatively short space of time, it’s delivered in a digestible way. It gives experienced photographers the tools to apply to their own field of photography and to experiment to find their own style, using light more creatively than they have in the past.
At £175 per person, I think the workshop offers very good value for money, especially for a professional photographer looking to expand their range. It’s also very inspiring and anyone who attends will be itching to use their flashgun in earnest.
Visit Training ByLumiere to find out more information about future workshops and the Foundation program.