I often say a photographer shouldn’t be taking money from clients unless they are willing to invest into their own skillset. I honestly believe this. Without any real regulation in this industry, there are all sorts of “photographers” who can’t even make an image unless their camera is in automatic mode. Personally, I don’t think that is fair to people who are paying for professional photography. I think if you want to be a professional, then you must act accordingly.
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So, I regulate myself… as was the case this past October. I attended a workshop in Scotland with not one instructor, but THREE! This was a workshop taught by some of today’s wedding photography’s most brilliant minds and creative souls. They were Keda Z., new father and WPPI Double Master, Johnson Wee, just on the cusp of becoming a WPPI Double Master, and Nik Pekridis, WPPI Master. I spent three days in a Scotland castle watching them plan, problem solve, shoot, pose, post process (edit) and work together.
Scotland Workshop with Three Masters (Fantastic 3)
Workshops are a very valuable tool for photographers to accelerate and fine tune their craft. I always seek out bona fide experts whose work I admire and try to attend at least one of these each year (plus WPPI in Vegas). Attending in-person is the best way to learn. There is only so much you can learn from reading an online tutorial or watching YouTube® videos. Reading a book or watching a computer monitor is basically a one-way flow of information.
Personally, I feel I get the most out of a workshop by just watching the instructor set up a shot, talk to the models, and then capture the shot. I like to live the shot through their minds and then compare that to how I would have approached the scene. I love the fact that I can ask questions on the fly—especially in the smaller workshops I’ve been attending lately. I can ask about angles, lens selection and lighting. This is a clear advantage you have in a workshop.
You usually also get a hands-on experience too. After the instructor has set up a shot and explained the hows and whys, you get to try it on for size. You can try their method and technique for yourself. The combination of theory AND practice ensures you understand why the image was captured a particular way and how to capture the image a particular way. Plus, you get to come home with some great images.
There is also a major difference in learning all by yourself and learning with others. The creative energy of a classroom is fuel for a creative spirit. Learning together peeks creativity and keeps the students challenged and inspired both at the same time. Interacting and learning with other photographers who are equally enthusiastic is important in the learning curve.
The networking and camaraderie you gain at workshops are also immeasurable. I have strengthened some great photography friendships by attending workshops together and always managed to make new ones.
I also got to meet two Graphi Studio employees, Jeremy and Martin. I had the opportunity to sit in on their presentation ahead of my visit to Graphi’s factory in Italy (more on that soon). Their presentation better prepared me for that visit.
Learning is important. Learning from creatives who have not only mastered an art but are forging the way for new imagination and innovation in the photographic community is priceless!
With that, I encourage my fellow photographers to attend workshops regularly and learn from people who know better. And, I encourage people who are not photographers to hire the photographers who are bettering themselves and this industry by attending these workshops. Invest in a community who grows and values the craft and can provide better images, a better experience and better products for you.
Mind you, I didn’t travel to the workshop with my normal working gear. I was only willing to travel with my mirrorless setup (Lumix GX7, no lighting system) being that I was going to stay in Europe for another two-and-a-half weeks after the workshop and my insurance carrier doesn’t insure my equipment outside of the US without an additional, temporary rider. Also, I didn’t always have the same angle and lighting setup as the instructor and was unwilling to elbow my way in for the same shot. Nevertheless, here are a few images I captured from the workshop:
MANY THANKS to Ladies Linda Rukavina and Elaine McElvie for organizing and arranging the workshop, castle, models, hair and makeup, clothing, dinner transportation, meals, and just the general good time I had! MANY THANKS to the awesome, ground-breaking, awe-inspiring and uber-talented instructors, The Fantastic 3—Keda, Johnson and Nik! And, last but not least, THANKS to all the other students I had the pleasure of meeting, getting to know and learning beside! After 17 seminars/workshops, it was my first one abroad and it was an incredible experience!! I may just have to do this again. Oh, and I’m gonna need to get my hands on a 30-foot veil.
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I am a professional wedding and senior photographer based in South Texas near San Antonio. I pride my business in offering a premier and personal service coupled with an unforgettable photography experience. I cater to clients who appreciate quality photography and help them to create family heirlooms that will last for generations. As a full-time professional photographer, my sole purpose is to provide amazing, memorable and full-service photography.
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I love to spend my spare time hiking, camping, cycling, reading, listening to Elvis and Prince. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents would be proud of!
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