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Photo Training Overseas Reporting from Fuerteventura - part 1 of 1 2

Published 01/04/2014

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As Britain faced an onslaught of storms, photographers gathered in major airports for their annual pilgrimage to Photo Training Overseas.

Destination: Fuerteventura. The volcanic island, so closely tied to Spain culturally and North Africa geographically promised sunshine and the expansive, often barren landscape. The name also references the strong winds that inevitably made themselves known as part of the system feeding into the UK.

Now in its 27th year, Photo Training Overseas, or PTO, continues to deliver a programme of tutors and seminars that is simply unmatched by any other course. Planned around all inclusive venues, delegates have the opportunity to completely clear their minds of mundane concerns, and can focus on the vast amount of information exchanged not only between delegates and tutors, but also between delegates themselves.

The winning formula packs eight tutors into four days, with optional master classes from tutors that wish to offer them on, the otherwise clear,

final day. With a print competition and critique entered before departure, and PR & Photographic art competitions during the week, there's a lot to challenge and excite the creative mind.

Although the sponsors are visible, they are never placed ahead of the educational and relaxing aspects of PTO. The Flash Centre/Elinchrom, Olympus and Fujifilm made equipment available for delegates, including the extensive range of XF mount cameras. Phil and Juliet Jones represented The Societies, on hand for advice and critique during the week, and One Vision provided prints for the finalists in the competition as well as prizes. Towergate Camerasure, ProSelect and Epson also support PTO with a similarly unintrusive approach.


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A wide spread of talents formed 2014's line up of tutors. Regular delegates will know Dave Wall, who blends an informal, friendly approach with sharp-edged and highly skilled Lightroom and Photoshop techniques. This year Dave took on two sessions, introducing tabletop product photography to the mix. Far from the expensive studio set-ups that many old-school commercial photographers envisage, or even the relatively inexpensive pop-up cove approach favoured by Etsy and eBay sellers with a mission, this was stripped to the bone, minimal expense product photography that focused on the photograph - and not the products allegedly needed to deliver the results.

With inexpensive, LED lighting and a few objects, the importance of preparation and imagination was impressed upon the delegates before a two-team, hands-on approach got everyone feeling the pressure to turn around the subjects in the timescale that makes product photography profitable. Diverting into the potential value of objects as stock, Dave's seminar encapsulated a lifetime's experience in two hours brilliantly.

Martine Hamilton-Knight further expanded the photographic language of PTO, with a venture into the world of architectural photography and from a technical standpoint, the use of movements. Suiting the overwhelming majority of photographers' choice of 35mm derived systems, Martine's skills with modern affordable perspective control lenses such as the Canon TS-E, Nikon PC and Samyang were presented in a series of real-world scenarios.

Following a quick, entertaining AV that brought Martine's career and images to life, an opportunity for the delegates to get hands on experience with optical corrections was further bolstered by a demonstration of the attention to detail, line and light that architectural photography and interiors demand.

Kevin Mullins made his PTO debut, though well known in the industry.

After an evening seminar that energised delegates to take full advantage of social networking and improve their SEO, Kevin's signature Documentary Weddings formed part of a discussion and presentation style seminar. His inspired, emotive and immersive photography truly conveyed the skill needed to master the genre; spray and pray with a telephoto lens was nowhere to be found as Kevin works intimately with his clients, close, quick and with unobtrusive equipment. Take all the information you want, but when the seminar was over Kevin's vision stayed with us as the defining character of his images, and striving to be that good undoubtedly was on the mind of any social photographer.

Few delegates needed the introduction to Damian McGillicuddy. The name behind countless courses, technical books and of course, the author of many award-winning photographs, Damian's fashion and artistic portraiture encapsulated teamwork, direction, lighting and camera technique with model Zoe providing the essence of patience and beauty. The compact Olympus OM-D system also proved a popular draw for many delegates as Damian's team showed that professional does not necessarily mean big, cumbersome SLRs.


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1st Published 01/04/2014
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