In the intervening years, Hanson crisscrossed the U.S. and Canada to take dozens of week- long workshops. His passion for learning is perhaps best revealed in his tutelage under the Redondo Beach, CA, wedding photographer Rocky Gunn.
"Rocky was known for what was called 'outdoor bridal,'" Hanson says. "His forte was the formal wedding portrait done on location; it was rarely executed well back then.
"Before Rocky, most photographers would pose a bride at a park or in front of a sunset, where she would seem artificially superimposed against the pretty backdrop-stiff and out of place. When Rocky posed a bride outdoors, though, her body language and lines would reflect and amplify surrounding lines and shapes. She appeared to sweep though the scene as if she owned it. And she seemed part of the beauty, not just standing in front of it."
Hanson had begun to formally study Gunn's posing techniques, when the unthinkable happened: At 43, Rocky Gunn died of a sudden heart attack. Another photographer might have moved on, but not Hanson. "I asked myself, 'How could someone that young have been that good?' The answer came to me: He learned it from someone. I immediately started to track down his teachers."
From Al Gilbert, Gunn's teacher in Toronto, Canada, Hanson learned how to place a subject within an outdoor background and also how to work with wide-angle lenses in portraiture, a rarely used technique among commercial portraitists in the early '80s.