In November I participated in a group shoot organized by Femme Photo LTD at the Saint Edward Seminary in Kenmore, WA.

The seminary was sold to the state of Washington in the late 70’s and now forms the heart of Saint Edward Park on the east side of Lake Washington.   The state has largely allowed the building to rot with only a few rooms having been maintained.   This does open up a unique opportunity as the building has the visual appeal of decay and neglect while still being (mostly) structurally sound.   Most importantly, it can be rented out.

Most of the spaces in the seminary are the cells for the former students.  Relatively small rooms with a washbasin and a single window which lets in a good amount of natural light.    The walls are painted concrete with a surprisingly cheerful palate of yellows, light blues, and the occasional dark russet.   Some of the shared spaces are former libraries and classrooms which interesting nooks and corners.   Everything is covered in several decades of dust.  Its an interesting space to work in as long as you don’t have any respiratory issues.

This was my first time shooting outside of my studio (aka, my living room) using strobes.   I brought a single Alien Bees monolight, a stripbox, and 40 feet of extension cord.

A portrait workshop I had taken years ago in NYC was taught by a photographer who claimed that nearly anyone you’ll ever need to photograph is within 500 yards of a power outlet.  This proved to be true but I forgot that he’s a professional photographer and gets to hand off the hassle of managing the extension cords to an assistant.  Not to mention even a relatively small monolight like the Alien Bee is still top heavy, especially when you attach a full sized modifier.

In the future I will be investing in a set of small flashes.