Thorsten Overgaard digital photography courses, seminars, on-line courses and one-on-one tutoring
Digital photography courses, seminars, on-line courses and one-on-one tutoring
My goal is to install enthusiasm in any photographer and raise his or her skill level, self-confidence and production volume. And I do.
By: Thorsten Overgaard
The very basis of becoming a better photographer stems from first having an intention to advance, an intention to improve. An intention to take a certain challenge, any particular thing that you think of, and then you have an idea that you would like to improve.
I generally don't focus on technology or offer Nirvana for gearheads. But I recognize any sort of photography as an art form and a way to communicate on an aesthetic level without words. Which is an ability we all have and which can be improved from no matter what level you are at.
And that is the only business plan I have: I can make you a better photographer by insatlling enthusiasm and raise skill level, self-confidence and production volume.
Since I started delivering photo seminars some years ago I have expanded the ways to share what I know. And here is an overview.
1. The basic and very popular photo seminar
Seminar drilling on the first evening of the seminar at Fitzroy Street in London
Theory on first evening in Copenhagen
Second evening of the seminar with theory and assignment critique in New York, March 2010
Home assignment work in Aurba, December 2009
The photo seminar is usually for up to eight people and starts out for example a Friday evening where we go over theory and drills. The next day we go out and shoot in the town, trying to shoot indoor, on large places and in more compact places, as well as people. It depends on which city we are in and the people, but photogarphing people in the street is always a subject of interest to many. It's a very friendly experience as the group usually consist of people from that town as well as people who came in for the seminar. We get to exchange equipment, tips and tricks, and there is always time for individual questions either on the street or when we go to have coffee, dinner or lunch.
The first evening of the seminar contains a "dogma assignment" where each participant has to do three assignments. Those can be done on the day we go shoot or at other times. But usually we meet again on the Sunday or Monday where we do the final edits together, share results and critique and end off with showcases, practical drilling of portraits and the rest of the seminar.
I often feel tempted to change the first evening of the seminar because it's the least sexy part, but every time the evening end off with everyone learning more about something they thought they knew everything about. It's the basics of photography, simply told, workable - but most of all necessary to be able to put more knowledge on top of it. Which is why the first evening has stayed unchanged since the beginning with only a few improvements.
The group is usually a majority of Leica photographers, and those who are not usually become Leica users very soon after. Thing is that photography is simple and doesn't require loads of gear and features. It requires knowledge and workability, at least the way I teach it, and if there is one camera brand that delivers just that, it's Leica.
The photo seminar continues to be happening around the world to the degree there is interest and I have time for it. Currently there is upcoming seminars inHong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, Sydney, Berlin, Cape Town, Dubai, Malmö, London, Moscow, Barcelona, The Alps, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco...
Matthias, Thomas and Chrostoph in Zürich, June 2011
"It has been truly enlightening and a great joy for me to share those seminar days with you all!
Many beautiful memories remain in the portait and especially the street photography departement ... and not last those personal talks we had about different styles of photography and Leica."
- M.F., Austria
Theory. Student photo by Ulli Seeberg from the London Seminar in September 2010(Leica M9 and new 35/1.4)
Thorsten explaining about small cameras at the seminar in Leica Gallery Tokyo in January 2011. Photo by Pieter Franken.
"Thanks so much for an inspiring weekend. I learned a lot, and it was a great group of people to spend the weekend with. I hope to see you again soon, either in NY or somewhere else. "
- D.G., New York
On location. Student photo by Ulli Seeberg from the London Seminar in September 2010 (Leica M9 and new 35/1.4)
On location on the High Line in New York, January 2011. David Gleason, Jed Best from New York and Alan Watson from Toronto.
"Thank you again for the course. It was a great few days when I learnt a huge amount. I like your easy style. I’m now hoping to have enough money for a Leica M11"
- R.S., London
Student photo by Andy Bond from the London Seminar in September 2010
"Thanks so much for all your instruction this past weekend. I really enjoyed meeting you and spending time understanding more of how you view things. I know there is a lot more to learn and hope we meet again."
- R.Y., Texas
Sori Gottdenker on the New York photo seminar, January 2011, with her white Leica M8.
One wouldn't be able to imagine all the equipment a handful of photographers can bring together... Photo by Pieter Franken.
"Photography has become dear to my heart again. Hope we have still some time to spend together."
- J., Spain
2. "The Overgaard ADVANCED Photography Workshop"
Michael, Hans, Friedl and Oskar of the Advanced Workshop at work in the streets of Palermo.
Often the last comments after one of my seminars is "Let's do this again next year" ... and so this is how we do it in 2011-2012 in Moscow, Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Barcelona, Berlin, London and Bijing.
"The set-up you provided was great. Taking pictures of models was new to me and gave me a lot of certaintiy that I can reach results with taking pictures of people as I envision them to be. I have made steady and tangible progress in photography above my expectations thanks to your seminars."
- M.J., Hamburg
On the ADVANCED workshop we spend three days of shooting and editing all day long, only divided by very social and entertaining brunch meetings, coffee breaks, lunch breaks, afternoon tea breaks and dinner breaks. Each day we focus on new assignments as a group.
Advanced workshop in Palermo, May 2011. Photo by Ulli Seeberger.
The actual assignments will differ depending on locations available but will challenge you and teach you new techniques and better control of camera and light by guided hands-on assignemnts. Some of the subjects we may indulge in will be "Timing in portraitture", "Making available light the best light", "Finding the exact right light", "Working with models and people", "Shooting strangers - and they like it!", "Using reflectors for portraits", "Shooting with film lights" ... and more.
Editing in London.
One thing you will learn is to actually use the basics of photography, work fast and get results. And have lots of fun doing so!
Adrian Hawkmoon working with a model in a very low light setup.
Coffee Break in Hong Kong, January 2011.
3. The professional seminar (which no one think they need)
The before mentioned photo seminar is often done around weekends so that people from out of town can come in for an extended weekend and participate, then return home for work and family. Whenever it is possible, those who are interested can stay for one more full day of seminar, which is the seminar about professional workflow.
Working with computer workflow in Berlin, 2009
Lightroom editing in Århus, Denmark
Working with computer workflow in Berlin
Workflow seminar in London, 2010
In short, it teaches the tricks necessary to produce a flood of final images ready to use. There is usually quite some learning courve involved in going from amateur to professional, so the seminar teaches the pieces necessary to be a very high producing photographer in the digital age - not in terms of images shot but in terms of final images that are ready to be used. As an example, I will usually shoot 200-1,200 images in a day and have finished the editing of all of them the same day. They are completely done, delivered and backed up. So how does one do that every day? That is what one learn, and it involves color calibrated workflow, decision-making and selction of images, editing in Lightroom or Aperture, Digital Asset Management, keywords, folders, backup, basic Photoshop skills (the ones necesary to finish an image), storing and delivering images ready for use on web and in print.
It's an 8-hour checklist we go through as a small group of 3-4 persons and it will change your life from one who spend 2/3 of your time never actually finishing editing all of your images to one who will now spend 2/3 of your energy photographing and always have final images from the day to present family, colleagues and clients with (and an orderly archive).
One thing we go over that many seem to have trouble with, is selecting images. It's not a big thing on the seminar, but it's usually where the workflow stops for most photographers: They just can't decide which images are good enough why they never really get to finalize anything. The result being cluttered hard drives, family members overwhelmed with too many images too look at, and a feeling of not being good enough.
All in all this seminar is one many think they will do fine without. Or they think they deserve to spend 2/3 of their time by the computer without accomplishing a 100% result. So if that is how you work, this is actually for you, believe it or not.
If you recall any great photographer you know, you know almost all their images. It isn't that many. Because they had a workflow where they did final images and didn't show you all their b-shots. If they had, you wouldn't consider them special. And that is what distinguish an amateaur from a professional; that the professional produce final images (and not harddrives filled with unselected images).
Price is 1,200$ and you can read more about the seminar here.
4. The Extension Course(s) you can do from home and in-between work and family life
Start now. Only 498$
"The Overgaard Photography Extension Course"
You can enroll and pay here:
or you can send an e-mail to email@example.com to enroll via invoice and bank transfer/checque.
You will receive your first materials in a few days.
You can see an outline of the couse here.
Both the above seminars exist as extension courses. Simply beacuse I continue to get e-mails from around the world from the most distant places, from people asking if they can join a seminar 14 flight-hours away. It's not that they can't, it's just that despite how enthusiastic some might be about my skills and my seminars, I feel bad that anyone should travel that long and incur such great expenses to do my seminar. So I decided to do them as extension corses as well, which has turned out to work very well for those who are on them.
The extension course naturally doesn't have the live aspect and we don't get to meet in person. But I actually like extension courses myself because you get some data in bits that you can try out, then you get some more to build further on, then some more. It's a very good way to learn that is fitted individually so you can drink coffe, go on holidays, have babies, do the lawn and make money in between course sessions. And yet you get all the data because you are the "only one in the class room."
The extension courses also allow for more examples, more home assignments and more text than the live seminars, simply because we don't have to sit together with a time limit. So the extension course offers more material and more work and a much lower price than the seminar.
Usual completion time is 40 hours of work, spread over 22 sections done over periods from 2 to 12 months. The price is 498$ for The Photography Extension Course and 498$ for the workflow course. You can click on the links and sign up immediately via PayPal.
Student example from the extension course (using Leica X1):
Manual white balance using grey card
Electronic flash setting
Auto white balance
Some times home assignments can take a dramatic turn, as in the above with dangerous animals in the livingroom in front of the Leica X1. Jan Martijn Metselaar of Netherlands who did this impressive and methodical home assignment on the subject of white balance, noted "I always though Auto White Balance was fairly correct, but never realized the difference could be so big. The Manual White Balance results is a far better reproduction of the actual colors than the Auto White Balance."
5. One-on-one tutoring with Thorsten Overgaard
Working with Leica S2 and timing by shooting bicycles going by
Student working with models, natural light and me and my assistant as helpers
Working with model and natural light, wardrobe and assistants
A very fun and exclusive offer is my one-on-one training. It's usually a week or two of personalized workshop in the editing office and out shooting models and things in real life, mixed with bits of theory I find necessary to go over. It takes place either here in Aarhus, Denmark or in your area.
For some people it makes sense that now they have spend tens of tousands of dollars on equipment, they should spend a bit more money and learn how to utilize it, without spending months or years learing by them self. The need is always very specific why the tutoring is tailored to that exact need, choice of equipment.
Some times one-on-one training can be an afternoon where we go shoot and address a certain skill or problem. It's very easy to fix things and see how they are done correct when you experience them, rather tha read about them. If I'm in your area anyways for work or seminars, or you are here around, it's a possibility.
"This spring I spent a week with Thorsten Overgaard in Denmark. It was terrific! I would recommend the one-on-one course to anyone interested in photography.
Thorsten is very involved in the course, no "teaching assistants", and his input and guidance is invaluable."
- J.H., Dallas
Price is in the range of 12,000$ a week (or 300 - 350$ an hour), depending on what preparation I will be doing for the training. The way to go about is by sending an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Student sample from the one-on-one courses:
As Lars Klottrup of Denmark stated after a daylight studio experience (above) where he couldn't believe that the display of his Nikon was not correct, he had the following comment after the images had been through Lightroom: "Ok, an external light meter isn't that bad an idea!". The two top samples are outdoor with the use of reflectors and silk screens.
The One-on-One training also comes around setting up a professional workflow for your self.
6. The "Lightroom Survival Course" with Thorsten Overgaard
This is a two-day workshop and one-day shooting where we set you up with Lightroom and a workflow. It's for anyone who have little or no experience with Lightroom - or those who have enough to know they don't know what's the up and down on a workflow.
In any case we take it from the very beginnign with clarifying the basic setting. Which images goes where, how to make sure keywords and copyright goes into files, previews settings, color and image size settings, etc. ... and from there we take off an give you a 25-step guide to Lightroom so you know what to use, and what not to bother about.
The course is usually delivered by Thorsten Overgaard and one helper/instructor so everybody gets the help they need. And the seminar includes a run-through from Thorsten Overgaard on how to select the right images, and then what to do with them!
When applicable/possible, we have a guest teacher that will tell about his or her workflow.
The next seminar of the "Lightroom Survival Course" is in Berlin in February 2011 where Birgit Krippner is guest. We will also be going shooting a day in Berlin, all of us - and with Birgit Krippner.
Currently I'm planning a week-long workshop around May 2012 for a smaller group, somewhere in Europe, in a villa with our own chef and lots of work to be done. Half the spaces are still open and anyone who might be interested in this can e-mail me at email@example.com for more information.
The working title "for the filthy rich" is partly fun, patly true. It is a workshop that will be tailored for those for whom it is a full-time job trying to spend all the money they have, and for whom exclusivity and quality counts in doing so. So it will have some exclusive parts built in, as well as a huge workload that will prevent the participants from spending any money for a whole week - apart from the money they pay for the seminar. And then it will have an element you can usually not buy for money: Love for artistic skills.
8. Summer School in Solms
I'm hoping to come up with a package concept for a very economical workshop in Solms for photography students and young talents. It still requires some conceptual worke as it requires the possibility to come in as a poor student or talented artist and walk out with professional skills and a professional Leica kit.
It will not be a seminar for certain selected ones, it's not a talent competition, but will be very marxistic and revolutionary in it's approact to photography. The Leica world needs new blood.
9. A book is coming
It's a bit early to announce this, but there will come a digital book in 2011 where I will exemplify my ideas about photography. A student in Los Angeles asked me to come up with "the axioms of photography" which would then be a rather short list of ever-evident truths to be inspired by.
The problem in this is to be able to cook photography down to short statements that together would be the always-right truths for any photographer about all photography. So I'm reluctant to promise such a thing; as it's hard to be that precise, and also hard to grasp fully even if done. So what I will promise is a book that takes off in such axioms or statements, with full chapters dealing with each subject, exemplified with lots of real work images.
10. A word on the basics of photography
In short, my experience with photographers from all over the world and at any level of photography is that they seek inspiration, enthusiasm, tools and (or should I say but) they all need to learn the basics of photography.
On a few occasions I've trusted someone who said, "I know the basics, I just want to learn about..." and then we head on with that. But thing is, when we get into playing with some exotic and exiting photography such as playing with special lenses, models and reflectors and silk screens, the lack of basic knowledge will prevent you from actually getting the results you could easily get if you just knew how the camera worked (and mainly which buttons not to use).
So I teach basics on my seminars, and I teach basics in the extension course. I've cut it down to a 3-4 hour exercise that is close to state of the art because it teaches what is necessary – crystal clear – and nothing more.
"I have picked up little pieces I did not know in over 30 years" one of my extension course students said, and it's true that few know the actual relation between the dials on the camera. And you need to if you want to take photos. You don't need to know about, you need to know it the same way you use a piece of paper to write on. It should not involve thinking or figuring out to use a camera. If you don't know the basics you may have the perfect composition, the right moment where something historic happens ... but your exposure is all wrong. The tolerances are broader today; with digital RAW files you can adjust after the fact to some degree, so you may get back things you would have lost with film images. But it's a waste of time not knowing the basics, it gives you extra work, and it confuses your photographing that you really are not sure. So I give you the data, and with some training in using them you should be able to have confidence that in any given situation, you can get a proper image out of it.
Someone said recently that he joined my extension course because he "wanted to move from snapshot to photography" which is in fact an interesting comment, because photography is planning a photo seconds or days or years before you actually get it. But you do see the image, and then you get it. Whereas snapshot is shooting and hoping it's there without any knowledge, planning, timing or anything involved.
So where you should get to is being able to achieve the photo opportunities you envision. Modern cameras become more and more snapshot cameras; quite a lot of professionals depend on the automatic features and shoot machine-gun style on auto-focus in the hope that one of the images may contain something of use. And that is snapshotting.
Some envision a future where you shoot video hires, and then you can find the right images afterwards. That is really snapshot machinegun, and it would involve a lot of harddrive space and a lot of editing to find those shots. But if it doesn't involve a prevision of the image and a knowledge on how to get it, it won't work (the images for Rolling Stones' album Exile was in fact shot with an 8mm film camera and then the still images taken from there. But it was by a photographer who envisioned what to get, and got it).
You need to be a photographer, and to the degree you can plan and execute a photograph in a usable quality, no matter the conditions you face, to that degree you are a professional. And there is nothing stopping you but your self and lack of basic knowledge. So that is why we go over the basics.
Part of the basics, by the way, is white balance. I never cease to be surprised just how big a wonder people consider white balance once they get to understand how to use it. It's one of those things we all know about but don't utilize. After the seminar or extension course, you do.
Thorsten Overgaard is a Danish feature writer and photographer who contributes stories and unique branding to magazines, newspapers and companies through exclusive and positive articles and photos. His work is being printed in Danish and international magazines, some of which are available via WireImage, Getty Images, Redferns and Associated Press. Some photos are available as limited signed editions online and from galleries.
For specific image needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.