Learning From The Best

Anyone who knows me well will tell you how strongly I believe in Fate.  And over the past 16yrs that belief has been put to the ultimate test and yet Fate has never let me down.

Just before starting Detheo Photography, and throughout it’s first year I attended many courses, hungry to refine my skills. However, I always came away  feeling unsatisfied.

Looking back I know now why.

As in all professions, people have very different reasons for doing what they do. Throughout my life I have always been driven to jobs that mean something personal to me, and photography is something very personal. My passion to capture those snippets of time, that so powerfully transport you instantly back, has always been my driving force. I  needed to learn the basics, which I did, but the courses always seemed to skim the surface, falling short.  They never catered for the individual, never understood my strengths or try to identify my weaknesses.

Then last year, just by chance, I came across a thread on the SWPP forum, which unbeknown to me, was set to totally change my life. My first 121 training course with John & Liz Denton sent my head spinning. It was the most amazing experience and I shared my feelings in a post that you are welcome to read back on if you like.

So, when I heard that I was going to be given the opportunity to return to Cold Harbour Studios and embark on my second 121 training course with John,  I could not believe it.

And as before, we were joined by two brilliant models. On day one I had the pleasure of working again with Jennifer Dickinson. Jennifer and I met on my first visit. We then caught up at the SWPP Annual Convention 2013 where Jennifer was working with some other photographers. So, it was lovely to see her again on this trip.

On day two, John and I were joined by Katie Louise. It was the first training session Katie had modelled for and I felt very honoured. Her beauty and natural talent are undeniable and she is a great addition to the Denton team.

Straight talking, down to earth, and a true photographic genius, John Denton does what those others in the past forgot to do. Before he teaches anything, he sets out to learn about his pupil. He gets to know who they are, he identifies their strengths and weaknesses and tailors his teachings to help them achieve their fullest potential. As for Liz, she is without a doubt, one amazing woman and the wealth of knowledge she holds is remarkable. Her ability to motivate and guide you through the marketing, branding, advertising etc side of the business leaves people, including myself, feeling so energised.

Photography is so much about who we are as individuals and as such it can be difficult to accept critique. However, I came to trust John & Liz very quickly and a similar sense of humour ensured we connected from the start.

Just like my first visit, this second 121 stripped away all distractions, guided me deeper through my journey of development and taught me to accept responsibility for the barriers I created,  that were holding me back. It was without a shadow of a doubt, a soul searching and eye opening experience.

I have come to hold both John and Liz very dear and feel very fortunate to have met such inspiring people. People I know I will forever call my friends. But how do I thank them for the tremendous influence they have  had on my life? I had plenty of time during my three hour drive home to contemplate this and I realised, there really was only one way. To take everything they had taught me, draw on all the belief they had shown in me and really make Detheo Photography everything I have always wanted it to be. And in turn, I hope one day, they can look back and feel proud that their influence helped form the solid foundations on which Detheo was grown.

(Below are some of the images captured on the second 121 training course at Cold Harbour Studios). 

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Katie 6FramedWM

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Katie 10FramedWM Katie 16FramedWM

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I Can See The Light!

When I was a little girl my father would always joke around using his heavily Greek accent to repeat lines from his favourite programs and films. He had many lines and they still have us laughing even now, so many years on. My mother, the more sensible of the two, had one or two lines of her own, her favourite being “always learning, learning all the time!”.  I doubt she ever realised how true those words were, but those few words have inadvertently formed the foundations of my life ever since.

In every aspect of life, I believe there are new things to learn. The world around us has so much information yet many people travel through life almost with their eyes and ears closed. Some do this with no realisation that it is happening, whereas others are more deliberate, believing they have all the knowledge there is to have.

Like all other professions, Photography is a journey of learning, with many years of travel exploring new and wonderful findings. And just when you think you have discovered all there is to be found, there will always something else hiding in wait.

Still very much at the early stages of my journey, I have searched long and hard to find courses that offer the quality and personalisation that I require to forward my skills. So when I recently was alerted to such an opportunity, I could not quite believe it.

However, true it definitely was for last weekend, (from Friday 23rd until Monday 26th November 2012) I packed up my car and drove the three and half hours journey to East Yorkshire to meet John and Liz Denton, from Denton Photography.  It was clear from the beginning that both John and Liz understood my values and my aspirations. They also had done their home work on me and were ready to guide me through the next level of my learning and amongst other things, lighting was one of the main areas we all knew I needed to develop.

The beautiful Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

The beautiful Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

Saturday morning started with freezing fog that swept over the ground and significantly reduced visibility. Making my way to the studio I wondered what my day would entail. As someone who loves being outside, I should not have feared, as the day turned out to be truly amazing. John embraced the fog and taught me how to work it to my advantage. As did our wonderful model, Jennifer Dickinson, who seemed to love the outdoors as much as we did.

Model Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

Model Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

Throughout the day we worked with natural light, then mixed this with additional lighting and finally finished off in the studio working with studio lighting.

Jennifer 4

Working with natural light around the grounds of the studio.

Mixing natural light and the speed light create atmosphere.

Mixing natural light and the speed light create atmosphere.

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Using Studio Lighting.

Using studio lighting.

Using studio lighting.

Sunday promised to be another jam packed day and this time we were joined by the beautiful  Caroline Mary Spalding. Having lost the fog, we just had the flooded roads and freezing cold weather to contend with. Yet nothing seemed to phase us and the stunning shots just kept coming.

Using natural light with the lovely Caroline around the studio.

Using natural light with the lovely Caroline around the studio.

Using natural light around the grounds of the studio.

Using natural light around the grounds of the studio.

With John determined to push me forward, Sunday brought a new feeling of confidence and by the  late afternoon I really began to feel at one with all the new skills I and learnt and the equipment I was surrounded by. But, just as I thought I was getting comfortable, John took me yet again further out of my comfort zone.

Now, I too had done my research and was very aware that my teacher was not just a good photographer. Apart from being a down to earth, shorts wearing funny man, John Denton is actually one of the most skilful and creative photographers I have ever seen and I doubt anyone knows how to use light better than him. He also has a reputation for creating some of the most amazing and artistic nude images ever. So it was no surprise that the final stage of my training involved Caroline ditching her warm winter wear and taking it all back to nature!

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

However, John had indeed not only taught me so much, but took the time to also learn about me. By giving me the opportunity to create images with my own style, John introduced me to a genre of photography I had never really focused much on. To my surprise, and possibly John’s, I took to it like a duck to water.

Of course, I must at this point thank both Jennifer Dickinson and Caroline Mary Spalding who both worked with patience, professionalism and had a great sense of humour, during our time together.

Monday was spent going over all of my images and then a business development session with the inspirational Liz Denton. Liz is the authority on everything business, as well as an amazing photographer in her own right. Her guidance and direction gave clarity to a once hazy area.

So, sadly the weekend was over but the long journey back flew past as my mind raced with what I had learnt, what I had achieved and what I wanted from the future.

The weekend with John and Liz, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy family life I have here, helped me to really focus on who I am and what I see as the future of Detheo Photography.  I  cannot give specifics but I will say the future is definitely looking bright! I feel recharged, enlightened and ready to start moving forward.

I would like to thank John and Liz for their kindness, support and commitment to sharing their passion and skills, and for their continued desire to ensure their teaching is accessible without discrimination.

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