Hi all,

I just got back from a wonderful 3 days of creativeLIVE workshop in Seattle and now I’m diving into preparations for my next series of classes and workshops! The fall season is very busy with local classes at Calumet Photo in Santa Ana and Los Angeles, Julia Dean Photo Workshops in Hollywood, and my Mogo-Media PS6 tour—next stop, Toronto, in October! I thought I’d give you a little glimpse of what its like to produce a creativeLIVE workshop that is viewed by thousands worldwide live online.

Tarot Show in Hollywood

The secret location of creativeLIVE is hidden in this unassuming building.

Behind the Scenes at creativeLIVE

Space Needle

creativeLIVE is located in the shadow of Seattle’s Space Needle

The interior of the creativeLIVE studios is well known to internet viewers but its hard to imagine what goes on behind the scenes. I actually didn’t take many photos behind the scenes because I was so busy handling the minute-to-minute live workshop! This is photography without a net — no chance to re-shoot or recover from mistakes. During the workshop viewers could witness my complete thought process. I am very excited about the whole concept of live online workshops and I believe that this is the future of all education!

Lee in studio

Lee Varis in studio minus hat (due to excessive heat)

I found the experience of teaching a live-on-the-internet workshop quite exhilarating! The creativeLIVE crew was very professional and the setup was carefully designed to support the teacher. There were some minor problems—I was working on someone else’s computer and looking at what appeared to be an uncalibrated monitor! I have been in worse situations on regular photo shoots, however, so this didn’t pose any real problems and, for the most part, things went very smoothly.

Lee in studio with camera

This is what the hot (as in temperature) photographer wears!

The first day was very hot in the studio, as they had been having a heat wave in Seattle! They brought in a portable air conditioner halfway through the day, and that was a big help for the rest of the week. It was hard for me to pay attention to the cameras—a little red light on top of the camera indicated that it was switched to live feed—I’m not sure I ever completely mastered the anchor man’s smooth turn to face the viewer, but it was a great learning experience for me!

Lee in studio with dancer

I had some very cool talent to work with.

I think the main thing about doing a workshop like this is that it really separates the men from the boys—you gotta know your stuff, and be prepared to improvise. Shooting live and then working on those freshly captured files in Photoshop is the best way to observe how a photograper adapts to changing situations and remains calm under pressure. I had a game plan, to be sure, but you always have to be open to things as they happen, and things did happen that changed what I considered doing in Photoshop after shooting.

Lee demonstrates a leap

Sometimes the photographer has to demonstrate what he wants from the talent!

For instance: I didn’t anticipate that my handsome male model was also a hip hop dancer and when he went through some “lock’n pop” moves it inspired me to create a multi-shot composite that captured a sense of the motion:

Bernard in Motion

Bernard in Motion

For those of you that might have missed it, you can purchase the recording of the full 3-day workshop here:

Skin. The Complete Course with Lee Varis

For those of you that might want to follow along with me, I’ve provided the photos I took of our 3 models in an online gallery here:


The layered Photoshop documents from the workshop will be available to purchasers of the workshop shortly on the creativeLIVE website!

I hope to return to creativeLIVE soon to bring you more cool live shoots with step-by-step instruction in lighting, shooting and Photoshoping to create compelling images—stay tuned for my announcements.