Fashionably Great: Washington School of Photography Class

April 11, 2011


A great photographer can transform even the most quotidian spaces. A nondescript red-brick walkway becomes a runway as a blonde woman in hot pants struts down it. Windows on an office building glimmer like a wall of paparazzi flashes behind a smiling tattooed African-American guy. The creator of these eye-catching pictures is photographer Lynn Devore, who has been teaching his class, “Outdoor Fashion,” for more than a decade at the Washington School of Photography.

The Basics: The daylong course accommodates up to a dozen students. No prior experience is required, though students do need to provide their own digital SLR camera. Participants may not use a simple point-and-shoot camera, but Devore doesn’t believe they need top-of-the-line equipment. “The more expensive camera can do a dozen things that the cheaper one can’t, but those options are never used in a typical day of shooting.” He does recommend bringing an extra memory card, though, since students may take up to 400 photographs over the course of the day.

Devore begins with a half-hour introduction on the protocols of photographing in public. He advises his students to always be aware of their surroundings and to be respectful of their fellow pedestrians so that their work is as unobtrusive and nondisruptive as possible. However, most of his instruction is given on the fly.

“I teach as people shoot. By directing the photographer, I let them see the effects of different lighting, focal lengths and camera position,” Devore says. “Good fashion photography has more to do with the texture and the quality of the light than anything else. I might shoot on the loading dock behind a Safeway because the light is fabulous.”

The class is divided into a morning session with a model of one sex and an afternoon session with a model of the opposite sex. As the photographers interact with their subjects, Devore offers etiquette tips. “You need to engage the model, keep them happy and keep them actively involved in the creative process,” he says. “If you get a good dialogue going so they’re enthusiastically involved in the shoot, then you’re going to get good images.”

What’s Next: Students walk away with a working knowledge of the technical elements of photography, such as how to set the shutter speed on their cameras, the importance of perspective and a deeper knowledge of how to collaborate with models. They’ll also have a deeper understanding of how professional shutterbugs create cover-worthy shots.

“They can walk down the street, look at the setting and light, and take magazine-quality fashion photographs on the spot without a studio setting and thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment,” Devore says. “I see beauty everywhere I look.”

The Deal: The next Outdoor Fashion class ($195) is May 22 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Register at the Washington School of Photography (4850 Rugby Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-1998, Wsp-photo.com).

Written by Express contributor Nevin Martell
Photos by Jason Hornick

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