Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Charles Alsheimer Photography Seminar

By "Word on Main Street" contributor Hope Johnstone

I had heard about this photography seminar last year from Ron Harp, who has an award winning deer head in his Edward Jones office downtown. This year, the Main Street board decided to hold an expo along with the photography seminar because Charles Alsheimer is an avid hunter as well as a published photographer and Siloam has a grand hunting population. As luck would have it, an anonymous donor purchased my ticket, and I was on my way to the seminar. I was so grateful because I knew this experience was going to inspire me.

On Saturday, April 18, I walked into Community Christian Fellowship for the seminar. I was greeted by at least twelve deer heads that were lined up on display. This made me laugh because I had contemplated wearing a shirt that said "I shoot photographs, not animals." Seeing that the best hunters in Siloam Springs would be at this event, I had decided against that attire. I greeted Ron Drake, who was setting up for the event along with some volunteers. He introduced me to Charles Alsheimer who gave a very firm handshake and introduced himself as "Charlie." He was very approachable. I could tell he was a pro at meeting new people.
His first question was, "What kind of camera do you use?"
"Digital," I replied, "but I'm taking a photography class right now and we use a manual." We went on to talk about tri-pods and mega pixels. I was impressed at how friendly he was.

I made my way into the small meeting room to find myself a chair. I've learned in school that a front row seat is my ticket to success. I walked slowly over to the front row and placed my bag on a seat close to the middle of the row. I ended up being the only person seated in the front row. However, I could hear the camera chatter going on around me and felt comfortable knowing that these people understood my love for taking photos.

Ron Harp stood up and introduced Charlie. Charlie came forward and stood in front of a projection screen and gave all his credit for taking wonderful photos to Jesus Christ. Charlie then took a seat next to a slide projector, and cautioned that digital projectors lose some of a photograph's sharpness. All the lights went out and we sat in darkness for a few seconds. I heard the loud click of the projector and instantly a beautiful image appeared on the screen. It was so peaceful to be in a room with twenty-five other people, who are completely silent, staring at a beautiful photograph.

Charlie took us through the basics of photography and guidelines to remember when we're out shooting pictures. Having a focal point, framing the focal point, angles and light. He showed us about fifty of his photos. Many were covers of magazines. It was interesting to learn how he changed his style of photography to accommodate magazines. After the seminar he opened the floor up for questions. Some asked about camera/lens types, another person asked Charles how he waits in the forest for hours until an animal approaches.
I sheepishly raised my hand and asked, "So once we've taken the photos, what do we do with them?"
He responded, "Be sure to save them in two locations!"
He told an anecdote of how he loads his photos onto his computer, then onto an external hard drive, and once a week he copies his external hard drive onto another external hard drive that he keeps at a separate location. He also said that if you want to send photos to magazines or print companies (cards, calendars, etc), that you cannot send the same picture to different companies. I was appreciative of his answers.

After the seminar, I walked out to my car. It had just rained, and I couldn't keep my eyes from looking all around. I was searching for the greatest angle of the parking lot, then on my drive home I would look down streets and think of everything Charlie had said and attempt to visualize the best angle in my mind. Its a wonder I didn't drive off the road! Thank goodness I only live a mile from the church. This seminar was very educational and inspirational. I didn't think I would appreciate a deer expo as much as I did.
photo by Hope Johnstone


  1. Hope,
    I clicked on over to your flickr site...
    Your photos are BEAUTIFUL! You have a talent for contrasting whites with blacks. My eyes couldn't help but be pulled deeper into the pictures. I really enjoyed browsing through your work.

  2. Great photo, Hope! I can't wait to see everything you learned at the seminar!