This week I was lucky enough to get a place on a workshop with Olympus Image Space at Giffords Circus. We would spend the afternoon in the circus learning from professional photographers, and taking part in shoots with some of the performers. We also had the added bonus of being able to try out some of the Olympus OM-D range of cameras, which was brilliant for me as I was looking to upgrade my camera in the near future too, so it would be nice to get to use the camera for an extended period of time before buying it.
After getting the train to glorious Chiswick, where I will never be able to afford to live – ever, I walked down to the grounds of Chiswick House where the circus was based this week.
Giffords Circus is a magical, musical village-green circus that tours Gloucestershire, the South West and beyond through the summer. Whilst I have never been, I will definitely be booking tickets to see them next summer. The set up was beautiful – vintage wagons, and that distinctive smell that can only be created by horses and hay.
Once we were all inside the big top we were introduced to the Olympus Brand Ambassadors that we would be working with, Damian McGillicuddy, Robert Pugh and Neil Buchan-Grant. All three amazing professionals, with brilliant stories and advice to tell.
Each would be leading separate portrait sessions, showing us how they personally would work with the model before letting us have a go, giving advice along the way. Sitting amongst all these professional photographers I was a little intimidated, but I was determined to have fun.
First we had three separate mini performances from other acts from the show, including jugglers, a diablo (ist? Player?User?) and an acrobatic troupe. Now I am not going to lie – to say I ran around like a lost puppy during the first activity is the understatement of the century. I chopped and changed between the loaned EM10 and my Nikon-1 and got some salvageable shots but it was all very fast paced and totally what I am not used to – but it was totally what I was expecting to happen if I am honest.
We then got split up into 3 groups and went away with an Olympus representative to do some portrait shots with the Brand Ambassadors. This is when I totally got to grips with the camera. First Up was Neil Buchan-Grant, who’s model was Tweedy The Clown, who had the most beautifully expressive face! Whilst he was working with us one on one, I asked the Olympus representative to actually explain to me the basics of the camera I had borrowed, especially as I had managed to get a hold of the particular one I was intending to buy if I got on with it. He was very patient with me asking a gazillion questions, but that combined with the help I had from Neil made even the first shots that I got better than most I had ever taken on any other cameras – ever!
We then moved groups and went to work with Robert Pugh, working completely outdoors with ever-changing sunlight. Here I learnt how to adapt all the settings on the camera alongside the changing light. This wasn’t that easy to do on my Nikon-1 but with all the dials on the EM10, it made the process a lot faster and easier, which enabled me to take more pictures instead of faffing around with the camera.
The final session was with Damian McGillicuddy back inside the big top. The model we were working with would move and pose however each of us liked on our turn ( she was extremely patiant). We were lent a flash system, and here I learnt the power that good lighting has on a picture. When everyone else was setting up I pestered the Olympus representative a bit more, as Damian was throwing around a lot of words that I had no understanding of, and he showed me how to adapt the camera accordingly. The black and white shot is me with no flash, with the model posing for someone else.
The final picture is when I had the flash and lighting attached to my camera and was working with her myself. Whilst the framing of the shot is a little off – I am really happy with what I got and all I learned from this day. I can’t wait to take this knowledge and apply it to my day to day photography.