Keith E. Williams
Keith E. Williams
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Beautiful models... awesome location... great weather...
Because I have a real job now, I haven't been able to shoot as much as a like. I miss the creativeness of photography. So I decided to find a workshop/event where I could shoot, experiment and be social with other photogs and models. I gave the October 2003 Arizona ShootOut a try.
As I hurtled through the Cal/Az desert on my tamed Mustang (I rented a Kia but they upgraded me for some reason to a tamed six cyl. 'stang), I pondered on what lay in store for me at The Arizona Shootout. I'd heard through the grapevine (translate as "forums") that the AZ Shootout was a good shooting experience. After cleaning and loading my cameras and checking the sites (auto-focus) I headed off to Phoenix to do battle with other camera slingers.
Okay enough of the corny attempt at comparing the AZ ShootOut to a Wild West Adventure. I'll cover the AZ ShootOut by category.
The ShootOut was a 2.5 day event where a bunch of photogs - Amateur and Pro - show up to photograph a bunch of agency & freelance models in a private, controlled and picturesque environment. Promoters Dave Hall (www.glamourmodels.com) & Jeff Lee (www.femalefigure.com) provided an orientation "meeting", two days of round-robin shooting, workshops, make-up artists, food, lodging, "after-hours" shooting and a bunch of fun.
The Orientation Meeting
The first scheduled ShootOut get together was early Friday evening. This orientation meeting had four benefits for me; 1 I got info about what to expect, 2 I was able to mingle with other photographers and the models, 3 found my place in the next days shooting schedule, 4 I got fed. This turned out to be a fun evening of sharing portfolios and past AZ Shoot stories. It gave Dave & Jeff (the promoters) a chance to explain how things work to newbies like myself. BTW:It seemed that it was 50% newbies to 50% ShootOut veterans.
The Location: CJs Studios
The choice of location was perfect. A movie set, with both Ol' West town and Mexican village motif. The sets include a tavern, jail, church, cottages, adobe structures, textured walls, blacksmiths, barns, old wagons, hay bales, balconies, etc. The list goes on and on. It provided plenty of room for everyone to shoot and more than enough "scenes" that I didn't ever have to repeat a location. The next ShootOut should be just fabulous in the spring, with all the fresh greenery and flowers.
Along with the antique sets and available props, this studio location offered modern restrooms and other indoor facilities to make it a pleasant day. The grounds were closed to the public ensuring privacy during the ShootOut.A definite plus for Glamour photography. It seems to be the perfect place for a group event.
The Early Morning Workshops
While the models suffered through the morning make-up and prep sessions with Corinne and Lorri, the ShootOut photographers and I had the opportunity to participate in free workshops taught by respected professionals.
Saturday morning's workshop was put on the shoulders of Johnny Olsen (www.candydreams.com). Quickdraw Johnny showed us some of his work, explained some of his philosophies, demonstrated some shooting techniques and then Photoshopped the results right there. He took us through his process beginning to end. He likes to call his minimalist style, Guerilla shooting - but you can take a workshop at the next AZ ShootOut to learn what he means.
On Sunday, Dan Howell (www.danhowell.com/) provided his expertise. Dan started out by covering how and where to sell our photography. He then moved on to his take on photo shoots and lighting. His style appeared to be a direct contrast to Johnny's Saturday concepts. Dan explained and demonstrated how he controls his environment and light, whether indoors or out. He explained a good deal of his techniques for capture and output of awesome photographs.
The two workshops complimented each other giving a great overview and comparison of some professional philosophies and techniques. These were valuable additions to the weekend. Thanks guys!
The Real ShootOut
Dave and Jeff have set up a round-robin style shooting experience. The goal was to give every model and photographer a chance to work together one-on-one. In my opinion, a great goal. At orientation, "groups" were set up. Then each group of photogs rotates through each group of models. At this AZ ShootOut the ratio was approx. 3 photogs to two models per session. I likes them odds.
Each group selects a background or spot and sets up shop. Shooting begins. Each photographer pairs up with a model within their group. This way each photographer and model can dedicate their full attention to each other (different than paparazzi style shooting). Photographers often assist each other during the shooting with light metering, reflectors, flashes, etc. It's a very community feeling. It's easy to make new friends.
After a pre-set time, the whistle blew and everyone gathered at the "meeting spot". The groups rotated. The photographers then have new models to experience.
The cool part is that this continued (with lunch and sleep breaks) over the two days. Every photographer got to work with every model. Sweet.
FYI: Arizona Shoot Outs is about glamour photography which does include various styles of nude photography. We did not post our images that include nudity in keeping with Glamourcons online policies. But it's at the AZ ShootOut event, so be aware.
"After Hours" Private Shoots
Once the ShootOut was done for the day, the movie studio and sets were open to photographers and models that wished to set up extra curricular shoots. Some were paid, some were trade and some were TFP. This was optional, but certainly an opportunity to work more in depth, one-on-one.
What a good bunch. Pros and amateurs. Old and Young. Fast shooters and slow shooters. And each one was willing to chat or help out other photographers. I'm purposely not mentioning names, to ensure I forget no one.
Beautiful, stunning, fun, friendly and professional. Those were the only things they ALL had in common. In all other respects, a wide variety was represented. Blondes, brunettes, & redheads. Blue, brown, hazel and green eyes. Slim and Voluptuous. Petit and statuesque. Girl next door to exotic. They even supplied a wide range of fashions and props. You can see my images of the attending models below (I wish I could go into detail about each lovely lady). AZ Shoots posts the attending models for each upcoming show on their web site. Click Here Thank you all for making it so easy!
The Makeup Artists
And a special mention of the make-up artists working diligently behind the scenes, Corinne and Lorri. Their efforts certainly enchanced my photographs. I didn't get an opportunity to meet them, but the models looked fabulous. I understand they are both based in Arizona.
I arrived in the desert's late October mid-day heat - at least 90 degrees. I quickly found the selected lodging, a sedate all-suite hotel close to Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport. A free shuttle is available for those that need it. My privacy came at a slight additional cost for a single occupancy room instead of the standard double occupancy. The rooms were clean and well furnished. The needed amenities were there, Fridge, microwave, sitting room, storage, high-speed internet and of course air conditioning. It proved to be pleasant place to call home for the next three days. It even offered free breakfasts! A good choice by AZ Shoots.
The ShootOut provides the majority of my meals during the stay. This ShootOut there was vast amounts of pizza at the orientation meeting. The hotel provided a good breakfast selection at no cost in the mornings. Then, Dave and Jeff went beyond the call of duty and actually did the BBQing for Saturday's lunch in 90 degree heat. We were all grateful for their dedication. Lunch was also provided on Sunday.
For Saturday's dinner we were on our own. A large group of us decided to meet up once again at a local eatery for drinks and dinner. It was a gorgeous night, and we spent it talking, gossiping and eating in the large outdoor area at "Tia Juanas". It was a chance to get to know each other even better.
What a great experience. I went to meet other models and photographers. I wanted to experiment with my photography. I wanted to enjoy the weekend.
It was easy to do all three.
Everyone was open and responsive. Models and photographers alike were ready to share, assist and contribute to successful shoots. The atmosphere was cooperative and friendly. At the end of the shooting, you've had the chance to work with many models. It's a perfect way to find professionals for future projects.
I listened to Johnny at his workshop and thought "Okay, I'll try something new". I put away my reflectors and other equipment, and proceeded through the ShootOut with only my digital camera. The models were flexible and supportive to my ideas, as well as offering many ideas of their own. A great working, creative relationship.
The only downside, I have so many images from the ShootOut, it's taking forever to edit them!
Dave & Jeff put together a well run event. There was no stress and no problems. Just a great shooting experience combined with a fun time.
I'll go again.
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