Okie photographers form a flashy group 

Off-camera lighting is often a daunting subject for professional photographers, so it's not surprising that new and aspiring shutterbugs are easily intimidated by the topic.

EXPERIMENTING
SHARING

But a new group of local shutterbugs, the Oklahoma Strobist Group, has formed to help illuminate dedicated lighting techniques.

"For somebody who's just advancing in photography, it's a new experience and a totally new and foreign idea," said photographer Jeff Rawdon, who joined OKstrobist about a year ago. "The concept in and of itself is a little daunting, and then with the technical aspects of it on top of that, there (are) some barriers to getting into it."

Equally important, however, is that the group's monthly workshops provide an opportunity for fellow photographers to meet, network and experiment, said group founder Corey Lack, who lives in Bixby. He hopes participants gain confidence as well as experience.

"I want people to explore their own creativity once they're out there," said Lack, who formed the group nearly a year and a half ago.

EXPERIMENTING
Duncan photographer Brian Hibbard started attending the workshops a little more than a year ago. He was already pursuing photography more seriously and experimenting with lighting, when he saw the workshop as a chance to learn more than he could on his own.

"I think this allows photographers to get out of their comfort zone. I know it did for me," he said.

Hibbard's background was primarily in still life and architecture, so the OKstrobist meetings helped him grow more comfortable working with models.

"The models come in volunteering their time, knowing that this is a learning experience for a lot of these photographers," he said. "I don't think that opportunity would so much be there for the photographers just starting out in the field."

The monthly workshops are $35, and the classes are limited to around 15 participants. Many attendees are new to photography, while some have been working professionally for 20 years, but Rawdon said all are eager to learn and to help others.

"It's just a really great group of people that are all, not just willing, but eager to share what they know, and what they've learned, and what they've tried, and what's worked," he said

SHARING
A major benefit of the group is that everyone shares equipment, which is especially helpful for beginners who only have a digital camera, Rawdon said.

"We'll have people show up with studio strobe equipment, or on-camera, off-camera lighting speed light equipment, and show people how to use it and what they can do with it," he said. "Then they can go away and make informed decisions about what they want to buy."

Hibbard said the group is ideal for those new to photography.

"Before you make a purchase on something, if you're just thinking about this piece of equipment, chances are, someone else there has it, has used it, knows something about it, and is willing to let you try it out," he said, adding that the diverse backgrounds of the group's members are another great asset. "Very few of them are professional photographers "? they're advanced amateurs, I guess you could say "? and so it's always interesting to see what their day job is to afford them to buy all this stuff and to dabble in photography."

OKstrobist is unique in that it has a narrower focus than many other photography groups in Oklahoma, Lack said. But the backgrounds and skill levels of its members are just as varied as the group itself is focused, he added.

"When you have all of those people coming together, you have this huge collective knowledge base of just photography in general," he said. "So, you may see this person who's been shooting for 15 years who has a great technique for shooting at slow shutter speeds, or holding the camera, or just anything."

Workshops are held the last Saturday of every month, alternating between the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas. May's workshop was held in Bixby, and June's is scheduled for Oklahoma City. Lack plans to update the group's Web site in the coming weeks, adding a discussion area and more video tutorials, as well as equipment rental.

For him, leading the workshops has helped strengthen his existing skills and challenged him to learn new ones. There's also a sense of pride in belonging to something larger, he said.

"I'm pretty proud of OKstrobist Group, and the type of people that it pulls, because it does pull a specific type of person," Lack said. "I don't allow any profanity, or R-rated, PG-13 kind of images. My theory is, if I can't take these home, and show them to my wife and kids, then we don't do it."

"?Lea Terry

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