Small Strobes Lighting Workshop with David Tejada

Andrew and I signed up for David’s lighting workshop as soon as we found out it was at Eastern State Penitentiary because of a few reasons.   Not only would we be learning from David Tejada but it would be in the perfect location.  Andrew and I have been a member of the prison (for those who don’t know, it is a museum now) for a year and recently renewed our membership.  After a few months of anticipating the workshop we found out form our friend Danyo who lives a couple blocks away from the prison that David rented the Ukie Hall that is directly next door to where we are staying.  Danyo actually is the Hall manager and took care of David’s rental.  How crazy is that?

We drove down to Philly after work on Thursday, woke up Friday morning and went downstairs for an amazing day of learning.  David started out by showing us his lighting gear.  He gave us tips on how to get around spending a lot of money on light modifiers, tools, etc.  After his lecture in the hall David bought us all pizza, water and soda which was really nice.


We walked over to the prison for our scheduled 1PM appointment.  Because the prison only does private tours during winter we had a guide stay with us the entire time.  David first had us go to cell block 7 which is typically closed off to visitors.  Interestingly cell block 7 is where a scene in Transformers 2 was filmed.  Anyway, David and his assistants set up various lighting situations while we were all observing, photographing for documentation and listening to what David was saying.  When the models came in to pose David took some photographs and then passed around the PocketWizards for everyone to take turns.  We did this a few times throughout the workshop.  We also went to a couple different cell blocks for complete different looks.

The last situation David showed us we didn’t have the ability to photograph with lighting ourselves because we were running out of time but I did manage to get a shot I really loved just with ambient light.  David’s assistant (and nephew) put on a prison shirt and posed as if he was thinking while looking outside of a cell window.  This enabled me to get a really beautiful semi-silhouette.

While David was packing up his gear he was talking to another student.  When they were done I asked if the student would take a picture of David and I.  He agreed as long as I took one of him.  Great deal!  David got really into it and wanted to find the perfect background.  He refers to himself as a ‘Nice Normal Guy’ and he is so right!  I am so glad I decided to take the workshop because I learned so much and found ways to challenge myself.  I am so happy with our group because everyone was friendly, ready to learn and not snobby.  We had a lot of Nikon vs Canon laughs and from what I could tell everyone had a great time.

Check out more of my photos from the workshop on Flickr

You can also find other student photos from Small Strobes Big Results on the Flickr Group

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