Award-winning instructor leads workshop for aspiring portrait photographers

sIMG_7622By Ashley Peccerelli

With the guidance of award-winning photographer Michael Stewart, the Art & Learning Center at Stamp offered a four-hour portrait workshop Nov. 4 for students interested in photography.

Stewart is nationally known for his unique photography, and his work spanning over several decades. His images have appeared in publications as diverse as The Washington Post, Guitar Player, Discovery Channel Online, Classic Motorcycle, Washington Home & Garden, The New York Times and Bluegrass Now, according to his website.

Stewart emphasized the importance of lighting, props, clothing and scenery when shooting portrait photography. He said the lighting, for example, can add either dramatic or soothing effect to a photo.

Stewart urged attendees not to be afraid of getting into people’s faces.

Sophomore studio art major Zachary Wilberg said he wants to learn how to take photos he’ll be able to use as reference for his drawings.

“I don’t know how to set a composition very well, so that’s another thing I’m hoping to improve,” Wilberg said.

After the learning session, students put their knowledge to practice. They took pictures and posed for them.

“I want to know how to take pictures of friends and family, especially of those who are afraid of being photographed, and make it more professional,” sophomore economics and studio art double major Rioyu Wu said.

Stewart made a point of asking students about themselves and what their goals are, pushing them to think about where they are headed and why.

According to Stewart, digital photography offers a wider range latitude, making it possible to shoot more of a variety.

“The quality in digital is so good, I’d never go back,” Stewart said. “The only drawback is that cameras back then would last for 20 years, while now, I have to buy a camera every two years because the quality and functions change and it is professionally outdated.”

Stewart stressed the difficulty of teaching a photography course just four hours long, but said he hoped the students made the most out of it.

“I want students to have a greater understanding of when they’re taking pictures of friends, that it becomes portraiture rather than just a snapshot…rather than just an image on a cell phone that will be gone in a few days,” Stewart said.

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