Workshop Review – Winsam Photography Workshop

I decided to mix things up by trying out some photography workshops that were out of my comfort zone. I was looking for something that wouldn’t take so much of my time and money, nor having to do any photo walks under this god forsaken heat. So I thought of shooting me some sexy models at Winston’s photography workshop.

Though I’m no stranger to Winston Baltasar’s outdoor studio workshops, I never did get the hang off adding strobe lights to my repertoire of mad photography skillz, nor did I have the resource to get good shooting them sexy ladies. Besides, these are one of those workshops I really don’t mind taking again.

The Instructor

Winston is a technical maestro when it comes to strobe lighting and portraiture with having 30 years of photography experience under his belt. He conducts his workshops during the weekends, costing around Php 1k – 1.8k ($24 – $44), and even less for students who are taking the course the second time around. A very good deal if you consider all the resources needed to make this sort of shoots happen.

Getting there…

The studio is located along Kamagong Street, Baragngay San Antonio, along Makati. If you’re commuting from the south like me, you’d want to take the LRT Ayala bus and get off “Mayapis” and have a tricycle drop you off the place where there is a huge mural of swimming dolphins.

The Workshop

The last time I took this course there was a morning “primer” to get the beginners acquainted with their gear. I’m assuming that the recent batch of students I was with weren’t beginners, so the morning was swiped aside and we went straight with the afternoon shoot.

The Shoot

The shoot would be consisted of 3 layouts, with the usual 15 minutes of rabid shooting time given to students per layout. They involve the model in casual attire, lingerie in a makeshift outdoor bed, and in a bikini during Winston’s signature water splash set up, (edit: which I was informed took longer than 15 mins) … yup, water splashes, alongside electronic equipment and lighting… let that sink in for a moment.

Oh my gulay… O_O

I can safely say that in most cases, I do not have a problem shooting people. I can go walk around shooting, and sometimes connecting with random strangers on the street without even batting an eyelid, but boy did my confidence level dropped when the crazy Disney otaku model Katie Anne walked in…

© Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 03

Damnit Amiel… Focus. Now’s not the time to go through puberty all over again.

And after a few minutes of experiencing a “blood loss” induced stupor, did I realize that she was with her photography extraordinaire buddy, Allan Muhlach.

The Setup

Now, this was my qualm in regards to photo workshops set up like this. There were around 10 -12 photographers at the workshop. We were divided by 2, with each group having 15 minutes each to get their shots within 3 shoot layouts. Now, each of these students has a couple of strobe lights assigned to them. Do the math and you’ll see that there are way too many lights (and light stands) getting in the way. Even though I’m a complete n00b in regards to strobe… I have art directed enough photo-shoots to know that not only does setting up one light would take around 2-5 minutes, add to the fact that I do not know what I’m doing which would probably take even more time. So, screw it, I said to myself… I’m shooting ambient.

My short lived tryout with a strobe. I think I used  Beauty Dish on this one... or a small Soft Box, I forgot.

My short lived tryout with a strobe. I think I used Beauty Dish on this one… or a small Soft Box, I forgot.

Katie Anne

With my little qualm aside, Katie turned out to be one awesome professional model. She brings so much character and energy to the table, that my inexperienced shots seemed like a winner. She even gave some tips on how to connect with the models I’m shooting, which I, the “shy” wallflower that I am, obviously lack.

© Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 11 © Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 12 © Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 13 © Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 14 © Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 15 © Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 16

“Sir” Allan the Awesome

If Katie Anne was this sweet, sexy, gorgeous icing on the cake. Allan would be the meaty cake bits. With the tips that I got from this guy, that Php1.8k ($44) that I paid for this workshop felt like stealing. This guy knows his stuff; from building report with the models he shoots, to the same “simplifying photography” philosophy we both share. This was accentuated by him presenting some really good portfolio work done with a kit lens and an on-board flash. This just shows that the guy gives more precedence connecting with the subjects, rather than hiding his face behind a big expensive camera system, which is evident from all the crazy gorgeous shots he has produced.

The Challenge

There is a transition that I had to cross between what I’m used to shooting and this workshop. From an “invisible” photographer that takes pot-shots off his subjects in a glass bowl, into someone who has to assert himself, commanding a connection with the model on top of the other photographers clamouring for the same attention. It was not an easy challenge for me to overcome, I don’t even know if my pictures exuded some of that supposed confidence (but they sure look pretty enough to me though), but having Katie as a model with Winston and Allan as instructors, sure made the steps a little easier.

© Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 01

© Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 04 © Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 05 © Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 06 © Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 07 © Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 08

Recommendations

If you have a dream of one day shooting sexy models for a men’s magazine, or if you just want to post something on Facebook that shows how much of a “like” whore you are, I would recommend that you try out Winston’s workshop. It is setup in such a way that there is a good chance, under the tutelage of Sir Winston, you would get yourself some really good shots even if you are beginner in photography. I would suggest though that you get a primer on how to utilize those strobe lights beforehand because you’d want to spend the limited time that you have building a rapport with your model rather than figuring out how to get those lights to work, let alone making them look natural on the spot.

© Amiel Lapuebla, Workshop,Winston, 18

Ratings

Fun****

Besides having some douchbag suddenly pop in front of your lens as you frame that awesome shot, or waiting for Sir Winston to finish his moment with the model, I would say that this workshop is an awesome way to spend your weekends.

Learning - *****

Having received their inputs and encouragements, I got pretty lucky for having Kate and Allen on board. Though I considered this genre of photography not my cup of tea, having to work with those guys inspired me to give this another look.

Technical - **

There were a lot of modifiers and strobe lights around and not much explaining on how they work. Did you know that it’s the aperture that you need to mess around to change exposures when using strobes?  Really? Well, I didn’t at that time.

Thriftiness - *****

Php1.8k ($44) (discounted) for a shoot with a crazy sexy stateside professional model, along with an afternoon picking the brains of a master. I felt that I cheated Winston on this one.

Overall.

4 out of 5 thrifty awesomeness! I highly recommended this workshop for the experience.

Trying the patented Winston Workshop "splashing some water near equipment" shot... someday, Imma get this right... someday.

Trying the patented Winston Workshop “splashing some water near equipment” shot… someday, I’ma get this right… someday.

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