I attended my third workshop with Derrick Story at the end of February 2013. As usual, it was a great experience, and I learned a lot; not just from Derrick, but also from the other excellent photographers. Attending one of these workshops is a 'raise your game' experience, for sure.
The subject was fine art photography, and we focused on black and white and HDR. I'm not all that pleased with any of the HDR images that I created on the workshop, but I definitely learned some great technique, which i expect I'll be applying to future images. I don't really like the overcooked, flat look of a lot of HDR, and I understand why that is so common.
The best part of the workshop was working with the two excellent models that Derrick hired, Kathleen and Leah. Consequently, most of the photos below are from the two model shoots we had. I find working with models to be really difficult, but really rewarding. I have limited experience translating what's in my head into half decent instructions - that is, when I have something in my head that I want them to do, which is rare. I'm finding that consistently talking, be it encouragement, instructions, or whatever - is really helpful, even if it is meaningless, because it gets a dialogue going and gets the model more comfortable. That's when good photos occur, I think. Listening to the models suggestions is key, too: some of my favorite photos were because the model had an idea (like when Kathleen kissed Woodstock). Working with two models who knew what they were doing and who were patient was great, and made the process so much easier.
Working with models is translatable to every day photography, too - I've found that every time I come back from working with a model, I've gotten better at directing family and friends in photos.