Westcott 2013 Lightapalooza: The Journey
I spotted the cutest little girl tooling around on her bicycle with training wheels. Something about her confident demeanor and fashionable attire demanded more than the concrete sidewalk and suburban setting provided. With a little imagination and some compositing experimentation, I made this image. When Westcott asked to see my most creative child in costume, ‘Four Wheelin’ was my response.
Debra Ledsinger’s Lightapalooza Winning Image
After a very close Facebook face-off, this image was selected as the winner of Contest #8 in the Westcott 2013 Lightapalooza Contest. My prize was a uLite Green Screen Kit and one of the coveted Golden Tickets. I placed my golden ticket on the mantle over the fireplace. Week after week, I followed the contest and marveled at the entries. I surfed the Westcott website and created a ‘wish list’. I also read and reread the prize list all the while imagining “what if…”???
When I got the call telling me that my name had been drawn, I was ecstatic! It was like I had won the Super Mega Lotto Jackpot! My dreams of actually owning all of that Westcott gear were becoming reality! One of the most exciting aspects of the prize package was having the opportunity to visit the Westcott headquarters in Ohio and receive training from one of the Westcott Top Pros.
Selecting one of the Pros was one of the toughest choices I’ve ever made. It’s like choosing which super-hero you’d like to have assist you in developing your own super powers… I did my homework. I researched all of the Westcott Top Pro photographers. I visited their websites, watched their videos, looked at their photo galleries and read their tips. This highly inspiring and educational exercise, in and of itself, was quite a prize. I knew that I couldn’t go wrong with any of the pros. I would have been thrilled to spend time learning from any of them; I chose Eric Eggly.
I’ve been in awe of Eric’s work since I first saw the composite image of the guy dragging a van and a car behind him. That photo won Eric the Best of Show Guru award at Photoshop World. I probably choose Eric for some of the same reasons that his clients chose him. Based on what I saw in his instructional videos, I was certain I would like his personality and demeanor. He seemed like he would be pleasant and easy to work with. He appeared patient, thorough and very creative. Just looking at the images on his website, I thought, “He seems like a really fun character.” Ultimately, I felt that Eric’s work is similar to what I want to create.
On the eve of my marathon photo experience, I enjoyed a delightful seafood dinner with BrandonHeiss, Westcott Marketing, Education and Top Pro coordinator, Eric and his beautiful wife, Sandy. Since winning the opportunity to spend time with Eric was already like hitting the Super Mega Lotto Jackpot, also being able to spend time with Sandy was like having the power ball number too! Sandy is a wealth of knowledge and experience with the business and marketing side of photography. Though I was a little anxious and giddy with excitement, I managed to eat, drink and discuss plans for our upcoming back-to-back photo sessions.
The morning of my big day began with a mini crash-course on lighting. Eric challenged me to be aware of light and to look for it everywhere.
Feeling inspired and enlightened, we headed over to Eric’s well-appointed Point Seven Studio. What immediately caught my eye was the display of Eric’s multitude of awards, which was backed up by his beautifully-presented photography gracing the studio walls. The huge cyc wall inside the spacious studio was still painted chalkboard-black from a previous photo session. The open-concept studio area also housed comfy white leather couch and a kitchenette stocked with snacks just for us. We met up with Sandy, Ronda the talented hairstylist/makeup artist and our model for the day, the lovely Seattle. Ronda was creating an Alice-in-Wonderland look with a slightly dark twist for Seattle. Westcott’s Brandon, Ashley (photographer) and Joe (videographer) rounded out our little photo entourage. We gathered up the gear. Any shoot that takes place at a scenic location like the Toledo Botanical Garden and involves the use of a fog machine, a Bowens Turbo-Fan, and Westcott gear is bound to be epic!
Once on location it was like an invisible director yelled “Action!” The lights, a bare strobe and a strobe modified by Westcott’s new Zeppelin Parabolic soft box, were plugged into the generator. The plan was to turn day into night to add a little drama and mystery to the scene. Seattle arrived on set fully made-up, wearing a fun, white, feathery frock and with sprigs and twigs entwined in her curls. Eric set up a tethering station and the most massive tripod I have ever seen. I pretty much stood there in awe but now it was almost go time. About 1:30 in the afternoon. Yes, 1:30 on a sunny, Tuesday afternoon.
Eric Eggly’s Final Image
Debra Ledsinger’s Final Image
Back in-studio for the second photo session. The plan was for Eric to assist me in lighting a challenging product. The product was a floral headpiece that I created myself. Based solely on a photo that I emailed the day before I arrived, Eric had already come up with a clever concept. He retrieved a vintage plant mister and a pair of pruning shears from his extensive prop closet. Once we dialed in the lighting, the now fresh-faced Seattle held the props as if she were pruning her hat. The lights were set. The model was ready. We took a few successful test shots and then… I froze! Now what?? Just like a photo super hero, Eric directed Seattle, who then produced a variety of facial expressions. We wrapped up the photo session, and my final treat for the day was getting to take a look at Eric’s exquisite portfolio. His beautifully bound books, filled with his current cast of characters perfectly printed on gallery-grade paper set a benchmark to which I will strive to achieve.
Debra Ledsinger’s Final Image
How do I sum up this magnificent Lightapalooza experience? Well… I’m still trying to decide which piece of Westcott gear is my favorite. It was certainly a fabulous experience meeting the Westcott team, Westcott CEO, Kelly Mondora and host extraordinaire Brandon. I admire the Westcott lean, mean, efficiency and Go Big attitude. I plan to keep in touch both with my new friends at Westcott and the Point Seven dynamic duo, Eric and Sandy. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to the most exciting contest ever! This life-changing experience gifted me with new friends, great memories that will last a lifetime, and awesome lighting gear, which will serve me well. My signed and framed golden ticket is now back in its place on the mantle, always reminding me of the wonders of life.
You can win lighting gear by participating in Westcott contests hosted throughout the year. To enter in the latest, please visit westcottu.com/photo-lighting-blog/contest