July 24, 2018
John Vomhof Jr.Staff Writer
Best Buy is introducing a series of photography workshops for intermediate photographers who want to learn how to take better pictures.
These new half-day, interactive workshops are taught by world-class professional photographers and our own Best Buy Camera Experience Shop experts. Participants will be taken to an offsite location where they’ll learn key skills for portrait and action photography and try out an array of lenses and other camera accessories.
The first workshop, taking place July 28 in seven cities, will focus on photographing people and pets. Future sessions are scheduled for October (Travel & Exploring) and January (Social Sharing & Storytelling). They cost $50, but that includes lunch, transportation and product giveaways.
These workshops go beyond the free two-hour classes we offer for new photographers at all of our 133 Best Buy Camera Experience Shops each month. The more advanced classes are similar to the training our own experts receive.
To learn more, we chatted with Kevin Gilbert, an award-winning photojournalist who will be leading the People & Pets workshop in Seattle.
How long have you been a professional photographer?
I have been a photojournalist and storyteller for over 30 years. I’ve been to 73 countries and all seven continents, taking pictures in most of them. I have photographed four presidents and have been the official photographer for many reality TV shows. Now my job is to inspire and educate people on how to take better pictures they’re excited to share.
Do people still use high-quality digital cameras? Don’t they just use camera phones?
Camera phones are wonderful. I use mine all the time because it’s always with me. But we’ve seen a resurgence in digital literacy. People are telling stories with their pictures, and they are finding limitations of things they can do with camera phones. Camera phones are fantastic for recording the serendipity of life, but if you want to go capture important memories — a vacation or your child’s first steps — you need a better camera.
Who are these new workshops at Best Buy designed for?
The classes we’re doing are geared toward people who love photography and want to learn a little bit more. Whenever we do classes like this, we get moms, dads and grandparents — anyone who’s not on a pro level but aspires to take better pictures. If you want to take better pictures, you can come and learn a whole bunch of things.
For those who can’t attend one of these classes, can you give us a couple of tips for getting better photos of people and pets?
My No. 1 tip is to get closer. If you physically have to move closer, that’s fine. But you can also pick up a longer lens and get closer by using of the lens and the camera. A zoom lens is fine. But get closer because you’ll have a better rapport with the subject. If you’re photographing a toddler, get down on the floor. Get that camera right up close, and pictures immediately become better.
My second tip is to always look at your backgrounds. You, as a photographer, need to move around and make sure the background is simple. You don’t want to have a streetlight coming out of their head or something that’s so distracting that you say, ‘Ugh, I’ll fix that later in Photoshop,’ because you never end up doing that ever.
Third, always look at the light. Time of day and direction of light are really important. You can always get a better picture if you work with the light to take the best picture in that environment. Sometimes that means waiting a few minutes or moving over 10 or 15 feet into the shade.
Any other tips for becoming a better photographer?
You learn by doing. You can buy a camera and watch all the videos and read all the books, and that’s great. But you will not really, truly understand it until you put that camera in your hand and take the time to learn it. If you do that, your pictures will become better immediately. Over time, taking pictures becomes second nature. I never even think about my camera’s settings anymore.
Best Buy Camera Experience Shops offer an expanded selection of cameras, lenses and accessories, plus photography advice and classes from our experts. Click here to learn more and to find a location near you.