Review: Fong and Woodward – Beauty and the Beast Seminar

Posted on: 08.10.09

This past July I had received an email from some photography company trying to sell me into going to the “Beauty and the Beast” pro-lighting photography seminar hosted by “Hanson Fong” (The beauty) and “John Woodward” (The beast) who have been professional photographers for over 30 years. When I received the email I had thought I would try and go, but with my upcoming wedding and lack of work for several months I had decided I wasn’t going to go.

Then last week Mark Wallace of Snapfactory set up a contest that gained you entry into seminar, and I was lucky enough to win entry into the Boston (Waltham) seminar.

I showed up a little later than I wanted, but got there before the seminar started. There are about 7 or 8 vendors outside trying to sell you random stuff you may or may not need. I look around and decide to go sit down, just in time for John to stand up on the stage, he says “well wait for this person to sit down” referring to me “and we’ll start”. As I casually make my way to my seat he decides to poke fun at me not being in a hurry to sit down (as I wanted to get a good seat an well there weren’t any left. I didn’t mind so much I like being the center of attention.

He goes through a few exercises to demonstrate that they were going to take us out of our comfort zone. Then Fong starts to poke fun at John. They should have named it “Photomedy” seminar. As there were a few times they almost had me in tears laughing so hard.

Hanson Fong is the first to talk, and could have had a second career as a stand up comic. He spends most of his time on stage either showing pictures and explaining what he did to produce the results, and taking people from the audience, and asking people to come up and try to pose them, and then telling them they are wrong and then correcting them. The thing is he was 100% correct. Every time some one posed some one, they looked terrible. Fong moves people, staggers them in ways that make the group of oddly shaped people fit like they were meant to be that way. He also explains it in a way that makes it easy for someone to remember. I plan on using a lot of the techniques that he taught today.

John Woodward is the technical guy. He talked a lot about the tech of photography. Why things worked, why they wouldn’t. Everything he showed was photographs he had taken, and it was amazing work. You can see he’s a master at his trade.

John though equally as funny as Hanson, but he would more poke fun at Hanson the entire time to get the audience laughing. More then a few times Hanson would do a double take to some of John’s comments.

It’s a great time. They are both lively which helps keep you awake and interested. I learned a LOT today and am extremely thankful that Mark Wallace felt my submission was good enough to give me entry into the seminar.

If anyone has been thinking of going to this and were on the fence, I recommend getting off the fence and registering. It’s well worth your time if you want to be a professional photographer, or a photographer looking for some fresh ideas.

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