Damian McGillicuddy Urban Kids Photography Workshop Review

John Riley goes for a day with Damian McGillicuddy on his Urban Kids Photo Workshop.

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My version of the shot Nick was lining up.

As I made my way towards Damian's Warrington studio I had little idea what to expect of this one-day workshop entitled Urban Kids, only being aware of Damian's formidable reputation and amazing list of awards and credits that have been gained over his long career.

The studio is unassuming but practical, housed on a small industrial estate that offers ideal backgrounds for today's theme. I was greeted by his wife Lesley and their son Callum, our model for the day, who was already patiently passing his time with a hand held computer game.

Relaxing in the small lounge area, the delegates started to arrive and we introduced ourselves and chatted for a while over coffee. Some of the delegates had obvioulsy been on Damian's courses and workshops before and they were eager for more. Including myself, five photographers attended and the workshops never have more than eight.

Damian's lighting adds drama and modelling to the features.

Meeting Damian

Damian may be a high flyer in his work, but immediately became one of the group and has that essential ability to be able to cut to the chase and get to the practicalities of photography. Throughout the day he spoke in a relaxed and accessible way and this made it possible for the workshop to be of practical benefit to a wide range of skill levels. A beginner would find this workshop of immense value and more advanced photographers would also be guided through a mass of fascinating insights.

I say “guided through” quite deliberately, as this is not spoon-feeding but a truly interactive process.

The Equipment

The first step was to explore the equipment we were using on the day, but this was kept short and simple. All were using Canon, Nikon or Pentax DSLRs with either 70-200mm lenses or short telephoto prime lenses. My main choice was the Pentax 77mm f/1.8 Limited lens, ideal for portraits.

The equipment overview section covered lighting, which in this case was a portable flash system based on the Ranger Quadra plus Damian's own Beauty Light reflector system, which after this I will definitely be looking to buy.

This initial introduction also covered people watching, marketing and some technical points regarding exposure. This theme continued throughout the day, with practical hints and tips seamlessly slipping in to the stream of conversation.

The final result is far more punchy and uses the sun as backlight to good effect.   We went for impact with the final shot and I opted to include the backlight in the image to give some dramatic flare.

The Shoots

Each set up was fully discussed by Damian, who would run through what he was trying to achieve and then make his own images to demonstrate the points. He encouraged us to take before and after shots using available light and the augmented lighting. In each case, thinking a little more and using the beauty light added drama to the shots and moved towards Damian's stated aim to produce something with the same equipment as his client's may well own, but that they could not do themselves. Everybody had a chance to shoot their images without being hurried and help was always on hand.

Adding Damian's lighting brings the image to life, producing images that say more about the subject and that will impress Mum and Dad.


By the end of the day it was clear that everyone involved had a really good experience and had worked through a number of shots, exploring a whole world of material whilst doing so, and the group had an excellent day.

  Ideal for photographers of all levels and well worth the fee.
This experience is well worth the £225 fee and all levels of photographer would benefit. There is always something we can learn and Damian puts it all across in a relaxed, friendly and effective way. It was a great experience to be there and share the day with Damian and his family and all the other delegates.

Thoroughly recommended!

For more information please visit the Damian McGillicuddy Photography Training website.

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9 Sep 2011 7:11PM
Hi John, great review Smile I thoroughly enjoyed the course too and meeting with like minded folk.

Learned so much on that day my head was spinning with ideas.

Amanda x

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10 Sep 2011 1:12PM
Thanks Amanda, I'll look up your portfolio!

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