I went to a four-hour mini-workshop on portrait photography tonight, and it was really enjoyable. Bambi Cantrell, 2003 photographer of the year for the United Nations and winner of a lifetime achievement award from the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, taught the class. She's a great speaker, and had lots of interesting little tips on how to deal with lighting, posing, and communication in portrait photography—a lot of tricks on how to make large and elderly people look more flattering, for example. Toward the end, she grabbed her cameras and set up a makeshift studio, and showed us all how she'd photograph a model on the job. The quality of the photos she put out so effortlessly was breathtaking—we saw the pictures on the big screen a few minutes later, and each one was like a "best of" that a normal person would put in their portfolio. She quickly turned the most boring, poorly-lit corners of a drab building into beautiful backdrops.
It's just amazing and humbling to see someone who's so, so much better than you will ever be working and explaining what they're doing as if it were the most simple, obvious thing in the world.