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Harnessing the Light: Cliff Mautner’s Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp

Last April, I had the honor of attending the Lighting & Skillset Bootcamp led by world-renowned photographer, Cliff Mautner. I first heard of this workshop a few years ago and envied those who had taken or were going to take it. Knowing the cost, I scoffed that they were actually spending that much money, ON A WORKSHOP. I am not going to lie: it seemed completely crazy to me at the time. Then, slowly but surely, I witnessed firsthand friend after friend attend and watched it positively transform their work. As if that weren’t enough, they came out with rave reviews. So, early last year, I finally got up the courage and decided to take the plunge for myself. Easily one of the best decisions I have ever made.

It’s hard to put into words a summary of the 2.5 days we spent at Cliff’s studio. All that we learned at the workshop. Most notable I think is Cliff himself, who has the most humble and genuine approach to teaching I’ve ever witnessed. During our extensive time with him, we drilled him with questions about all aspects of photography and business and he was straightforward and sincere with each and every response. He consistently went out of his way to address each  attendee — ensuring no one was left out. And on the day we left to shoot in the city, we were provided with a full chartered bus and almost as many models as there were shooters. Incredible.

So, it’s basically a known fact: most photographers forced to shoot mid-day will run for the shade. Shade is safe, even, steady. Fortunately, I am not one of those photographers — at least not any more. Thanks to Cliff, I have spent the last year able to welcome the challenge of shooting mid-day in the full sun.  I love how the light brings instant warmth to my images. I love how the shadows and highlights add dimension. I absolutely love shooting in the sun. The following images [taken at the workshop last April] are all shot mid-day, full sun — a situation that would leave a lot of photographers cringing. But wait until you see them…


Over the course of our few days with him, Cliff taught attendees how to transform everything from mid-day sun to dark rooms into something dramatic. He proved that there is no such thing as bad light; it’s all about how you use the light that matters. One of his former workshop attendees (my dear friend Jenna Walcott) referred to his ability to harness the lightand I cannot think of a better way to say it. It’s no longer about searching for good light, it’s about harnessing the light you have.

Thank you Cliff for everything — the amazing experience, the hospitality, and all the knowledge. And a thank you to my fellow attendees for the lasting friendships and support. I am ever-thankful to have been able to participate in such an incredible opportunity. 

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