I just returned from a couple of days in New York City attending the PDN PhotoPlus Expo and also the "Shoot NYC" event. Both were great events and I had the opportunity to listen to a number of great photographers and industry experts.
Joe McNally, whose work has been seen, regularly, in National Geographic for over 30 years, as well as Life Magazine and countless other publications and ad campaigns was there along with many others.
Joe is a great guy and shares, quite candidly, his experiences as a photographer shooting in some of the most interesting places in the world, including the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, as he showed a great photo of his shoes, 2722 feet above the earth, taken with his iPhone. I had the privilege of having dinner with Joe and his lovely wife Anne Cahill a couple of years ago and just have to say he's the "real thing."
Another person high on my list is Rafael "RC" Conception, from the Kelby group. I've watched dozens of Rafael's training videos on the Kelby Training and National Association of Photoshop Professionals websites. To be brief, Rafael is amazing in his knowledge of Lightroom and Photoshop software and I have never come away from watching his videos without learning something (actually, a lot). Seeing him in person was even more of a treat, after Joe McNally introduced him to me at the PDN expo. I had a chance to chat briefly with him and then attended a seminar on Lightroom that he presented at the Shoot NYC event. Rafael is a great presenter and, I know why, after he told the crowd that he has a teaching degree and taught high school for many years before becoming involved in the photography field. Joe would probably say that it's appropriate that a high school teacher could connect with a bunch of photographers from all levels. Actually, I guess photographers at any level have a fair amount of "geek" mixed in, especially in this digital age. And, who else could go out into the audience and grab someone's baby to bring up on stage with him?
In any event, Rafael is amazing in person and I, again, came away with a bunch of knowledge that I didn't have going in. Thank you for that, Rafael.
The highlight of the two days in NYC, apart from simply being there, was to listen to portrait master Gregory Heisler. How would I sum up his presentation in one word, I'm not sure; "Wow!" is woefully inadequate. Let me put it this way: Greg spoke for three hours, without a break. There wasn't a person in the room who left; I would have peed my pants before missing a second of his presentation. Apart from being an amazing photographer, he is, also, a great human being. He is humble as a presenter, shares, openly, stories about himself, even those not so glamorous, while at the same time, he's driven but not arrogant. I'm not sure that all makes sense, but it does to me. I've attended a lot of seminars over the years and, have left some thinking that the presenter, while being a known, published, successful photographer, were so full of themselves I wanted to blow lunch. This is not Heisler. His style of photography is that, by his own accord, there isn't a style. As I listened to him speak, and having heard him in videos many times, he creates images that make people ask "who is that person", about the subject of his portrait, not "who was the photographer." That's something that really resonated with me.
Greg Heisler will spend a great deal of time getting to know his subject before he actually shoots the portrait. He spoke of having had a studio in Manhattan for several decades and, of how few portraits were actually shot there over the years. His studio was more like a laboratory, where he would take ideas he had for a portrait assignment, test it, using one of his assistants in place of the subject and, then, execute that setup out in the field, where he was actually going to do the portrait of the subject. He creates images which really capture the essence of who it is he's photographing and the results speak for themselves. Absolutely amazing portraits.
Greg Heisler has over 70 Time magazine covers under his belt. He has a new book, which was just released, called 50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer's Photographer. I have a copy and, while I haven't read it yet, Greg did use the photos from that book, along with a few outtakes, for his presentation. In true Heisler fashion, despite the fact that he used images from the book, the presentation wasn't about the book, the sign of a real master. I have more to say about lessons from Greg Heisler, but I'm going to save those for another post.
So, there are a few highlights from two days in NYC. It really is a great city and, when you couple it with the opportunity to listen to folks like Joe McNally, Rafael Conception and Gregory Heisler, it doesn't get much better.