Bambi Cantrell at Microsoft

A couple of weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to have Bambi Cantrell, another of Microsoft’s Icons of Imaging on the Microsoft campus for a workshop. Several hundred Microsoft employees were there with their cameras in hand to learn from Bambi’s extensive experience as a wedding and portrait photographer. The audience members ranged in expertise from beginner to advanced, and I think that everyone was able to walk away with some new tools to take advantage of, whether they were part-time photographers shooting weddings on the weekend, or just someone who wanted to learn how to take better family portraits.

The workshop was broken up into three parts. The first part involved Bambi walking through a series of photos that she has taken. For each photo, she would talk about how the photo was created, what the light source was, how she set up the shot, etc. Bambi is an excellent teacher. There was something new and interesting to learn about each image. After a few images she was quizzing the crowd to ask them what the light source was and where it was coming from.

This part of the workshop gave us a great insight into Bambi’s philosophy and background, and was full of practical advice about lighting, posing, composition, and technique. Bambi made the session very ‘hands-on’, and brought up several audience members to demonstrate how she communicates with people when trying to pose inexperienced models (i.e. regular people). Instead of asking the model to move to the left, she would simply stand where she wanted the model to face and ask them to turn towards her. This is the kind of practical advice that is better to observe first hand than it is read in a book.

For the second part of the workshop, Bambi brought in a professional model and lighting rig to demonstrate her studio technique. This gave us the opportunity to see Bambi in action as she posed an experienced model. She also pulled in our own Mike Tedesco (who organized the event) and his daughter to demonstrate techniques for working with young children. Bambi adapts her style and demeanor to the situation and has a great rapport with her subjects that really shows in the final product.

For the final part of the workshop, we left the conference room, and followed Bambi around the building. She took her model and set up shots throughout the building, showing us how to take advantage of existing surroundings and lighting conditions to make the most of them. Who knew that the interior of a Microsoft office building could be full of so many rich photographic opportunities?

I’m sure many in the audience were expecting a scripted, rehearsed presentation at the beginning of the evening, but by the end of the night, those expectations had been thoroughly shattered. It’s really exciting to see someone at the top of their game thinking on their feet and doing what they do best. Everyone I spoke with after the event was truly inspired to take better photos afterwards.

Thanks Bambi!

– Scott Dart (Program Manager)

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