After Dark Charlotte was an amazing experience. I highly recommend it to any level of photographer that is looking to improve their skill sets! Of all the seminars, workshops or conventions I’ve attended, this one is by far the best experience to date. After Dark happens four times a year in various locations across the U.S. and I will be, without a doubt, attending at least one (hopefully two) in 2012.
If you’ve never heard of After Dark, it’s quite the experience. It’s 72-hours of non-stop learning (they do let you sleep a little). With over 30 different photography mentors and 300 attendees, it’s a great teacher to student ratio for hands-on learning. There were about 10 “pods” set up for presentations, critiques and roundtables. In another area of the hotel there were 10 “bays” for studio lighting. You can stop by any pod or bay for each class, deciding which mentor you want to learn from. I went with a game plan of learning more about working with off-camera flash. Once I got to Charlotte and reviewed the class schedule, I changed my mind. My focus became more about business, posing and on-location photography. That’s the great thing about After Dark is that if you change your mind before or during a class, you don’t have to stick around, you can move freely though the various mentors’ presentations. I attended so many classes that my brain was in overload. Marketing, on-location natural light portraits, high school senior posing, creative children’s portraits and working with families and children to name just a few. Beyond the “scheduled” classes, there were also impromptu classes. A mentor would grab a model, a bay, or head outside and just start teaching! We typically were out photographing from midnight till 2 a.m., hence the name After Dark. I know other photographers were out till 4 a.m. some mornings. Not only did I learn a lot, I also got the opportunity to meet many great new friends, who are also photographers from across the U.S.
Being me, of course there were a few snafus to my trip. On the way to the airport, we got pulled over for a headlight being out. On the first full day of After Dark, my feet started swelling up like watermelons! By the last day, I decided maybe I should stop over at the ER (it was right across the street) to make sure I didn’t have any major issues going on. With a clean bill of health and no real reason for the swelling, I was on my way back to Columbus. Of course, that journey back to Ohio also included a delayed flight out of North Carolina which meant I missed my connecting flight in Detroit. Too bad no one took a photograph of me sprinting from one side of the airport to the other to try to catch my flight. Alas, I got to spend a few extra hours in the Detroit airport, waiting for another flight back home. Even with a few minor bumps in the road, I’m so glad I got the chance to attend this amazing experience! As for my feet (a.k.a the Cankle Saga) I think I had an allergic reaction to something while I was gone. The swelling was almost entirely gone within 24 hours of arriving home.
Here are a few of the images I created while at After Dark. I’m looking forward to my next AD experience!