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Welcome to Brett Harkness Training Studios

Welcome to our Brett Harkness Photography Training blog site. NEW Autumn | Winter 2014 COURSES OUT NOW.
NEW Training DVD NOW OUT on the store for Pre-order..
Go the BLOG to download a host of information and see what we are up to in our business! Check out our VIDEO page above for some cool clips of every day life at the studio! If you want to see more of my wedding, commercial, fashion & travel work please click on the Landing page link at the top of the page to go to the other sections of the site. If there is anything that you would like to see on this site then get in touch, if we think it's a great idea then we'll try and do it!

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October saw us put on a fantastic fashion flash course at a wonderful location in Liverpool. Due to the amazing success of our France courses over the last few years we thought we would mark the anniversary of the last France course with a very special day of training at a very cool yet creepy location. I had been looking as we always are for a location for quite a while and stumbled on this place by chance through a ghost tour web site ! After finding out who now owns this venue I made a short call to the owner and a day was set for me to go and take a look, lets just say I wasn’t disappointed! This now closed down former hospital | orphanage | asylum is now privately owned and offers some great shooting if you look in the right places.

The date was set and the course went out to our facebook group and then onto the site for general release. As the places filled we started to plan the day – these courses take  a lot of planning and meticulous styling. We knew that our resident makeup artist | Stylist & hair dressers Zan Atkinson was to be onboard on this one and we set to work looking for period outfits and pieces that would compliment the shoot. It is a fine line when shooting in a place like this that you want  to do it justice and not just dress people in theatre or bikinis! So when we stumbled across an amazing shop in Coventry in the newly opened Fargo village called Heaven Vintage we knew the owner Angela would understand exactly what we needed and she wasn’t to disappoint. We had some great pieces , a 1920′s wedding dress, original Edwardian hats and clothing from Victorian era aswell as some more modern pieces that we could ad to the mix including a very vogue like underskirt that Zan had made from a wedding underskirt! Models were Jen Brook who I hadn’t worked with for  a few years but we knew that her look would be perfect for a job like this and she didn’t disappoint. Model Milly from Nemesis model agency in Manchester was also onboard with a unique look that would also work great with the environment. So the day crept up on us as fast as the days are getting shorter and we were ready to go…

The kit was sorted a few days before making sure we had ample batteries and lights – with help from The Flash Centre lending us the equipment that we didn’t have we were set to go. After filling up my car & James’s car – my assistant with coffee machine | sandwiches | cookies oh and yes the lighting equipment we headed off to Liverpool to start our epic day. After arriving we had a little time for myself and James to take a look around and make a plan , although plans are there to be broken! Whilst Zan started work on our first look with Jen the photographers started to arrive  and over coffee and cookies & doughnuts ( thanks to neil!! ) we went through the equipment and then went for a walk around so that they could get a feel for the place and we could start to plan our shots out a little.

The first look was ready with Jen looking the part we took our time with the first look showing the photographers how to plan a shoot and to look at layering the lights, to give the lighting purchase and meaning not just on the subject but around the subject too.

 

 

 

Lit with a large 6ft Elinchrom Octa bank and two small beauty dishes, with the help of a little orange gel and a haze machine we had this one licked!

After setting up shot number two in the corridoor we came back into the main hall where our kit was and thanks to haze machine the sunlight was streaming through the window in such a way that you only ever see on huge movie sets! So needless to say we took Milly from her set to this to not waste this opportunity! Using the sunlight as our main light we made sure the shadows of Milly were nicely filled in with the 6ft Octa which is my main weapon of choice for fashion work!

 

Make sure you get down to the end of the post for some great behind the scenes shot by my assistant James and also numerous photogs on the course. With the room buzzing with excitement from this shot and the great start we had made to the day everyone grabbed a coffee and a sandwich , a few of the photographers going for a walk around to other floors to see what they could find!

After a quick lunch our model Jen was ready with her second look and we headed off down to the lower floor of the asylum where the laundry rooms were. Using very feathered lighting we shot Jen against an old ironing station with an old stretch dummy body used to steam shirts over. This made a great background and went with the edwardian – steam punk look we were going after. Using a strip box with Elinchrom Ranger RS Speed AS pack  & one small beauty dish with a shower cap on to diffuse the light.

 

 

After a super quick change we went off track and went into the tiny room next door where they used to dry the clothes with the old hangers still roped to the roof. Jen quickly on set changed into an amazing 1910 | 1920′s wedding dress  - very fragile dress too from Angela’s own collection at Heaven Vintage. Using one Elinchrom Ranger RX pack and one light with a 70cm softbox we put one light next door through the window and one light in the room itself with a beauty dish – gridded to give a little bounce back and edge light to the model. Jen worked this to perfection and in the near pitch black everyone took their turn to shoot how they wished.

 

 

 

We then left the room and headed off for a coridoor where some natural light spilled in and took model Milly with her second look. This was a simple shot with no flash , finding an old mirror work perfectly – shooting wide open on a Canon 50mm 1.2L lens made for a super soft look to a very eerie image!

 

 

Working our way down the coridoor we used another simple background for effect , then giving the modle a breather as I think the haze machine used previously had got to her a little! This time shooting through an old smashed glass doorway , using simple doorway light to one side I used the doorframe to frame the subject.

 

 

We then took Jen outside who was now ready with her 3rd look. Zan was working as fast as she could to get the girls ready for us so we could keep on going. It is a challenge when you are teaching in such a place as you want to teach people what you are doing but you also want people to be able to shoot for themselves. At the end of the day it is a day of teaching, a day to watch, shoot, listen and take inspiration to go away and practice these techniques to do this for yourself in your own way and style.

We headed off outside for Jens look using an old doorway with elaborate ( cobweb) style glass above,keeping this one simple as we could with just one light , a 70cm softbox to override the ambiance.

 

 

 

With the day quickly getting away from us we headed off to probably one of the most eerie places of the whole site. A room where the main oven for the hospital was situated and I’m not talking food either! The main cremation ovens sit in a unit by themselves and were heavily used in there 35 years of service. We used the room next door to them. A place where old gurneys were stacked up and a chapel sat untouched for years. Our model Milly stood motionless and stared straight ahead going for  avery strong look Zan our stylist draped a long piece of black lace over her to give a unique feel to the image with bright red lips completing the look. With time running out we took turns with the light again using just one head with a gridded softbox on it.

 

 

I knew the deadline was coming thick and fast for us to leave so we headed off to the old swimming pool house for our last look. Jen was ready and stood in the middle of the room. With  the floor slightly wet and muddy from an open roof the light offered a little reflection on the ground in front of her which was great. Using the large 6ft Octabank and again a small beauty dish for separation, a little haze from the haze machine which James had managed to wire up with a few extension sockets from the main hospital! I could have stayed in this room forever as the scene was perfect. Zan had crafted a hand made boned underskirt with original vintage corsets from Heaven Vintage completed the look.

 

 

 

A simply amazing day that I would say will go down as one of our best training events ever. On par with France for sure! Everyone chipped in to get all the kit outside of the venue with our 6pm deadline ( strict deadline) approaching. A huge thank you to all that made it down to this event and as well as getting some great images I hope you all learned some different techniques to take away and use for your own work. Although this was a one off course we are currently looking at another venue for a possible Fashion II course that will again push the boundaries of what is achievable on a day of photographic training.

A huge thank you to Angela from Heaven vintage, to Zan Atkinson for the hours she put in before and during the day. To James Davies for assisting on the day and being  a human donkey!  To The Flash Centre for suppling us with some equipment for the days events. A great team up there in Leeds and if you ever need anything talk to Russ or Graham and they will sort out! Thanks to models Jen Brook and Milly from Nemesis model agency in Manchester. Watch out on the training page | courses for our next set of training days that you won’t want to miss.

Join us on our fantastic closed Facebook Training group – a great place to be and be inspired! Join me on Twitter @brettharkness and also on Instagram as Brett Harkness to see what we get up to here at BHP headquarters and on our daily shoots. If you were on this course then leave a comment at the bottom to tell others of your day!

Here are some behind the scenes images from the day and also a little video shot by one of the photographers on the course. Thanks to the photographer on the day that have let us use some BTS images below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Neil Proctor for snapping some video throughout the day whilst shooting!

4 comments
  • Glenn (10.07.2014 | 10:48)

    A thrilling, entertaining and most educational experience. One from which I will draw much inspiration. Thank you to all involved!

  • Jen Brook (10.07.2014 | 11:04)

    A brilliant day made all the better by exceptional styling in an incredible location with people that would go above and beyond to create a great photograph. Of all the training days I have been a part of, this certainly sits amongst my most favourite ever.

  • Cathy Higgins (10.08.2014 | 12:01)

    What an amazing venue. You can do sooo much with it. Love the styling and the compositions of the images. Very fitting for the location. Great work Brett. Would love to attend the next one. Will bring Brian too.

  • Neil Proctor (10.08.2014 | 06:05)

    Awesome describes everything about this day, from the location to the models, MUA and stylists

    Awesome experience, a day packed with information and techniques from one of the best photographers in the business, set in a location to die for.

    Of the training courses that I have been in, this is right up there at the top. I would love to do the whole day again.

    Nice one Brett and James, you guys are exceptional

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Not too often these days I get the chance to set up a test shoot. Using my new background that took me two days to make I set to it. The look was nice & clean and we were looking for a classy, soft look with the lighting.

Shooting Chloe Bell from Nemesis models. When testing it is very important to try and remember what you are doing. I mean by that,in my real shooting life at weddings and kids shoots I have to shoot very fast. I don’t get too much time to relax into a shot and work my way through it. So for this very reason that is what testing should be about , for me anyway!

Using a mixture of Elinchrom lights, modifiers – 70cm softbox, stripbox, Deep Octa & 6ft Octabank, smoke machine. With some lovely styling by Zan Atkinson & for the firs time I also got the images retouched by a pro, Catherine Day.  Here are a couple of shots from the day shoot.

To see how I made my background CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yesterdays training day saw us back at the wonderful Arley Hall outside of Nantwich in Cheshire. We started off the day after coffee looking at the business side of things, pricing and branding. Then onto some images to get the juices flowing.

After a break we photographed the B&G upstairs in one of the bedrooms keeping things simple looking at the use of daylight & exposure. After a great lunch we took to outside , using some of the architectural features of the surroundings. Using a mixture of daylight and flash in different situations. Having fun with a tree that very kindly gave us it’s blossom after a little persuasion!

A huge thank you as always to Zan Atkinson for her amazing styling & hair/make up skills. To Nemesis model agency in Manchester for our wonderful models , Liam & Naz and to the staff at Arley for making our day a success.

Here are a couple of images from the course….

 

 

 

 

 

When my assistant can do this then it means that we can do this! No tree was harmed in the making of these images!

A clip from our Arley Hall course yesterday from Brett Harkness on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The last day of March brought us to our Wedding/Speedlight course 30 mins outside of Manchester. Starting off in Bury in the morning discussing some imagery & the business side of our wedding process. We then headed off to a new venue for us, The Dunkenhalgh near Blackburn.

After lunch on arrival we started to shoot working our way around the venue inside and moving outside to shoot in some of the grounds. Using mainly 580 EX II speedlights and on occasion the Calumet Genesis GF400 flash unit. Looking at creating eye catching images of the B&G inside and out. Using different focal lengths for effect and looking at using very low power speedlights at close quarters to the subject.Looking at how to light a first dance, shooting against the daylight, using surfaces for reflection & so much more..

We have some great courses coming up soon so why not join us this yer for some amazing training & a day you wont forget!

A huge thank you to Zan Atkinson for her styling & make-up, Models Zac & Janine from Nemesis Agency in Manchester. Dresses from Novak Exclusive Bridal Lounge.

Here are a few images from the day:

 

 

 

A tiny alcove made a great background for the couple. Just a speedlight on 8th power with an Ezy box

 

Shot with the couple standing behind a fire escape door.

 

Shooting the Groom against a tree! Using a 24-70mm on the left, Genesis on 1/4 power.

Right shot- 50mm lens with 580 EX II speedlight on 128th power.

 

Dancing on 1/4 sec at f11

 

Main light is Genesis on 1/4 power & two star  ( 580 flashes) lights both on 8th power.

 

 

Single naked speedlight on full power to make the day go to night!

 

 

 

 

2 comments
  • Konrad (04.01.2014 | 09:08)

    Awesome images!!!!

  • Tom Needham (04.06.2014 | 11:54)

    What a fantastic day of learning and explanation from Brett and his team. My entire attitude to flash and flash techniques has been overturned by this workshop. Unreservedly recommended, no matter how experienced you are.

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This March saw us shooting at the wonderful Arley Hall in Nantwich in Cheshire for our two – 1 day wedding courses. Starting off with coffee & pastries I spent the morning session going through our business in detail. Looking at workflow, brochures, wedding fairs, client contact, sales and so much more. Giving us enough time to work with the Bride & Groom in the main bridal bedroom looking at natural light and getting the most out of the quick session after the bride has got ready.

Keeping things simple early on in the wedding is best!

After a fantastic lunch we headed off outside to numerous different location over the two days. Working in the grounds of Arley and also the little church that sits on the grounds. Looking at using simple flash, balancing it with the ambiance , over riding the ambiance mastering the technique of using Off Camera Flash. Using flash at Fashion or advertising shoots is a lot different when you have more time. With our weddings time with the B&G is premium and we have to work fast so we concentrate on techniques that you can execute very quickly when under pressure.

The  2 days were great fun and everyone had time with the B&G to shoot but most of all to ask questions all day on different aspects of their own business and method of shooting. The point of our courses for me is to teach people a method, to inspire people to push there own businesses & photography into different places. To create a style that is themselves and unique to them. This is what we all crave for and our desire to push our own photography into different places should be the driving force behind any successful photographic business. If you want to see what other photographers got up to on the day then check out the two links below!

http://www.warrenbutlerphotography.co.uk/brett-harkness-all-about-weddings/

http://www.jdaviesphotography.co.uk/latest-news/arley-hall-wedding-training-brett-harkness/

We also due to demand ,have another wonderful day planned at the stunning Arley Hall. So why not join us for  a day that just may change the way you look at the wedding world forever! CLICK HERE for more information..

A huge thank you to :

Location: Arley Hall

Styling & Hair/Make up – Zan Atkinson

Dresses: Novakks Exclusive Bridal Wear

Models: Nemesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few images from behind the scenes.. Thanks to James Davies for these.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This course took place in France in October 2013. There is video and images taken over the two days. We are looking to put on another course this year , maybe in France, maybe somewhere else

If you are interested please let us know! CLICK HERE to register your interest in an overnight course this year! or get intouch through the Fb training group..

DAY 1

Every year for the last three years we have taken BHP training to the beautiful Chateau Rigaud nr Bordeaux/ France. This year we decided to take the plane where as in previous years I have driven all the kit needed to take on a course like this ! needless to say we had quite a few bags! Everyone was picked up from the airport and taken to the Chateau where Champagne was waiting! Not too many courses do you get looked after like this. The rest of the day people spend relaxing by the pool or reading a book with a glass or two of the local vino. After a fabulous meal from the Chateau’s own chef everyone retired to their beautiful rooms to prepare them selves for the first days shooting.
Day one , after a fantastic breakfast with hand made croissants & coffee we started off looking at kit and walking around the location to scout out for the day ahead. We started off the shoot quite easy in the main lounge looking at daylight and then slowly introducing different lights to ad depth to the shots. Working with both male & female models we worked until lunch time. After lunch on the lawn we worked our way around different parts of the Chateau before heading off in the van to the next door vineyard and estate. Using different modifiers looking at balancing the light with the ambiance; everyone got ample time to shoot for themselves as well working with the models. Some amazing styling as always by Zan Atkinson & assisting by Ross Holkham.
After shooting until around 7pm we all headed off back to the chateau for a great meal and wine. Everyone sat around the long wooden table and were served by the chateau staff. We know how to look after our photographers!!
For more info on this years courses & loads of stuff to watch go to

http://brettharknessphotography.com/training

 

Here are some images from Day 1:

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRETT HARKNESS PHOTOGRAPHY TRAINING – France Oct 2013 – Day 1 from Brett Harkness on Vimeo.

Day 2

Day two started early as we wanted to get as much in as we could. After a gorgeous breakfast we headed off for the first time in the little town of Castillion. A bustling riverside french town. Zan had created an amazing look for the first shoot which we did in the streets near a local church. As the light was so beautiful we started off using the sunlight , working with black material and sun isn’t easy but the look we were going fro suited this perfectly. After shooting around the church we changed location to the nearby riverside and took the look a little more funky with a shot inside a phone box! The scratched glass made for a great screen to shoot through. With some CTO gels from behind gave the shot some nice warmth.
Ross & I headed off to a nearby sandwich shop to grab some goodies for lunch as we left the guys to carry on shooting. After lunch we headed off back in the van to the chateau for a change.
Taking the model into the nearby vineyard for a stunning shot against the sky. Moving into the chateau for a couple shot using both girls. This packed day continued as we stopped off at a dead sunflower field to do a quick shot with one of the girls using just using one light. Finishing off as the sun set near a hill top church was a stunning way to finish off our 2013 France trip. With Zan making the dress on the hilltop as we got the lights ready, each taking it in turns to shoot the model as the sun set, we even had church bells to strike us out!
An amazing course and a huge thank you to all involved to make it a success! Even a little cameo by our amazing little girl Makenzie.

Here are a few images from Day 2:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRETT HARKNESS PHOTOGRAPHY TRAINING – France Oct 2013 – Day 2 from Brett Harkness on Vimeo.

 

 

A huge thank you to everyone involved in this course including amongst other, Zan Atkinson for her amazing styling and hair/make-up , Ross Holkham for assisting, our wonderful models and providers of clothes and props for the two days.

 

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Our year has got off to an amazing start here at Brett Harkness Photography. With our new house & studio move in October last year we are looking forward to the future with excitement! In November last year we were asked by my Facebook Training Group page to put on a Speedlight course which we duly obliged. So in November last year we put it out there and in less than 24 hours it sold out! We ended up doing three courses before Christmas and have done two courses post Christmas looking at using speedlights in the wedding environment

Starting off at our new abode in Bury looking at some imagery and talking about the technique behind the usage of off camera flash. We then moved onto a local church for some practice and getting used to the technique before moving into Manchester & The Lowry Theatre for lunch. After coffee and lunch we used various backgrounds in and around the Lowry looking at the use of different powers of lights. Using speedlights and Calumet’s Genesis Speedlights on ( speedlight outputs) we had ample time to work with the models in different situations. Looking at posing, backgrounds, using flash with ambiance and over riding the ambiance to get more drama out of the situation. Moving inside we looked at using flashes inside , working with white balance and ‘cleaning up’ images. Lighting the cake cutting and first dance were also on the agenda,working with simple one light set ups to get the most out of the situation.

There was ample time for each photographer to shoot for themselves also. I also look to test the photographers as much as i can throughout the day to make sure that the information being told is getting through and then any questions they have can be answered straight away.

We start off the day with normal speedlights and then due to the fact that there are 10 photographers on this course so that everyone can shoot we are also using Calumets – Genesis GF400 speedlight which has its own battery pack and allows us to shoot faster. What we do so that every shot can be achieved with a speedlight is to make sure that we are shooting on speedlight powers so that the effect can be matched easily with normal speedlights.

Thank you to Zan Atkinson for her wonderful styling, Nemesis models for providing great girls & guys for us, Novak Bridal for some amazing dresses.

 

Don’t just take my word for it! If you want to see what some of the photographers that have been on the flash courses say about the day then click on the links below. Also to see the images that they are shooting on the course….

Rob Grimes:Its the best investment that anyone interested in learning OCF techniques can make to themselves.. Don’t think, just Book!!

http://www.robgrimesphotography.co.uk/brett-harkness-speed-light-course-manchester/

http://www.gloucesterweddingphotographer.com/category/dans-blog/

http://www.tonyfanningphotography.co.uk/blog/2013/12/10/winter-flash-training-with-brett-harkness-in-manchester/

 

Jonathan Addie: “Although I’ve not been on any recent ones, I took one of Brett’s flash courses a few years ago and it was a revelation. I learned more in one day than I ever thought possible! Better to spend the money learning the kit you have than to spend it on new kit. All question were answered with nothing held back. It takes time to absorb and practise all that he teaches but the rewards are worth it. It helped me grow my business and learn my craft. ultimately it gave my work a unique look that stood out from the crown and enabled me to go full time doing what I love.”

 

 

Here are some of my shots from various recent flash courses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a new date for this wonderful course – PLEASE CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE TRAINING COURSE PAGE TO CHECK IT OUT & BOOK….

 

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Last week saw us at the wonderful venue of The Mansion in Leeds in the amazing setting of Roundhay Park. A huge thank you to all that made it there and for James Davies for writing up this brilliant blog post. So good I thought I would just link to it!!

http://www.jdaviesphotography.co.uk/latest-news/brett-harkness-photography-training-day-mansion-house/

Thanks to Lee for assisting on the day. Huge thank you to Zan Atkinson for her amazing styling and to Novakks Bridal Lounge for our gorgeous dresses. Of course to Emma & Nic for their modelling and for putting up with the cold so well! Also thank you to all the people at The Mansion for making us feel so welcome..

 

Here are some of the images that I shot on the training day but if you want to see what other people shot then take a look at James’s link above to read more about our great day of BHP training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 comment
  • Adrian Harvey (11.27.2013 | 12:26)

    She's a very beautiful subject and it looked like a good day light-wise to capture these images. Great looking shots!

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Our fantastic year of training continues with a visit to Newcastle. This course was organized from my Facebook Training Group with a bunch of photographers asking if we could come up to Newcastle for day of training.

You ask & we shall come! This is the second time this yer we have visited Newcastle for training and great fun was had by all. A huge thank you to Novak Bridal Lounge & Grooms room for the beautiful dress. To join our FB Training group click here.

 

 

Shot with just daylight, exposing for the sun and getting the bride to look into the sun but close eyes is a great way of using the sun with a super bright background.

 

Shot using an Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed AS pack and a 70cm softbox with grid.

 

 

Again using the power of the Ranger kit and a 70cm softbox with the bride stood high on a statue base!

 

Shot using canon 50mm 1.2 and just holding the veil infront of her face in the wind

 

Again using Elinchrom Ranger pack with a very squashed grid so as to not spill light anywhere but the bride..

 

 

If you are interested in learning how to achieve images like this then checkout our training page & go to courses for more info on what courses we have coming up still in 2013!

 

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A true photographic phenonemon.Brett Harkness is a man in demand— Dan Lezano. Digital SLR Photography