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The Portrait Photographer’s Guide:

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A Weekend to Remember: My Portrait Photography Workshop with Michael Schacht in Chicago

by | Behind the Scenes, Personal Stories, Photography Advice, Photography Industry Trends

What was I doing in the Windy City, you might ask? I was fortunate enough to spend my weekend at a photography workshop with the legendary Michael Schacht at his drop-dead-gorgeous studio. Red bricks, old wood floors, high ceiling, and top-notch lighting gear. Seriously, he has this monster 84″ octabox that I had a blast playing around with.

Cindy photographing Joe under the supervision of Mike Schacht with an octabox light in a natural light studio, other photographers assisting and observing.[6 of us busy working in the studio, photographing Joe]

The workshop was a cozy gathering of five – all of us professional photographers, swapping stories and sharing laughs. Judy Babinski from Texas, Joe Loper from New York, Kim Dalton from Ohio, Cindy Quinn from Arizona, and yours truly.

Our task? Mike asked us to pick a portrait from his extensive collection of photography books and recreate it. We dived in, searching the pages like we were on a treasure hunt. And the gems we found!

One of my favorite moments? Seeing Judy roar (literally) as I captured her in natural light. Usually, I work with my trusted Broncolor strobes, but Mike encouraged me to try something new – and I’m so glad he did!

Collage of 9 portraits of Judy in various expressions ranging from serious to roaring, photographed in natural light near a window, against a backdrop of red brick wall.[9 photos of Judy roaring when I was photographing her in natural light]

Just when we thought we couldn’t have any more fun, Mike brought out a leaf blower. Yes, you heard that right! We used it to fluff up the hair of whoever was in the hot seat, creating some epic photo ops and even more epic memories.

Of course, all this adventuring and learning made us pretty hungry. Lucky for us, Time Out, a cool food market near Mike’s studio, was our lunch haven. One day, I indulged in some scrumptious Greek cuisine, and the next, I relished fresh, flavorful Lebanese delights.

Though our days were chock-full of activities, leaving little time for sightseeing, I did manage to catch a breathtaking night view of the city from the DuSable Bridge. Isn’t it just magical?

Night view of Chicago from Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge with clear sky, visible Dearborn Street Bridge and Marina City Goldberg framed by skyscrapers, and blue and purple light reflections on the water.[Chicago at night]

Before we knew it, our amazing weekend was over. We came as photographers and left as friends.And look at this photo of Mike, playing along when I asked him to pose like James Dean!

Mike Schacht in a denim shirt and blue jeans, looking directly at the camera with a smile, in a pose reminiscent of James Dean, with hands in pockets and shoulders softly raised.[Mike smiling when I asked him to pose like James Dean]

Would I recommend a Michael Schacht workshop? In a heartbeat! Not only did I learn to see natural light in a new way, but I also had a wonderful good time doing it. I can’t wait to apply these insights to my work back home in Gilbert. And next time I’m in Chicago, I’ll be sure to stay an extra day (or two) to explore the city… and definitely check the train lines more carefully! Until then, stay tuned for more tales from my exciting world of photography.

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Meet The Author

High school senior girl with a bob haircut, wearing a light purple and gold dress, posing with her hand on her chest at Marie Feutrier's professional portrait studio in Gilbert, AZ, for her glamor senior photo.
 Marie Feutrier, a French transplant in Gilbert, AZ, masterfully captures personalities through her lens. With an accent as charming as her photos, she doesn’t just take your picture, she tells your story, one click at a time.

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