Workshop ramblings

Two weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend a workshop hosted by Amy Wenzel.  I have been interested in attending a workshop for a while now.  I spend a ton of time reading anything and everything photography related - books, blogs, articles, websites etc.  But I felt that a chance to learn, in person, would really help take my work up to the next level.  And when I heard Amy was hosting one in May, I signed up right then and there.  I have admired Amy's work for a while now and have heard amazing reviews about her workshops.  I thought it would be an amazing experience.  And, damn, I was right.

I first have to say, that attending this workshop was a HUGE deal for me.  For one, it is not like we are swimming in extra cash-ola.  So the cost of the workshop, the accomodations, the car rental, my meals on the road etc, was a bit of a challenge and a little scary to be honest.

But the other issue was, as the mom of 3 little girls, leaving for a couple days can really upset the daily routine.  And if you know kids, you know they like routine and they don't like when mom isn't home for any length of time.  My girls have no problem leaving me for a day or so.  But they like knowing that I am home IF they need me.  My oldest, Christina, had the hardest time.  She was pretty weepy the day or two before I left.  Her statement "you can't leave, because, um, you are always here!" pretty much summed up the kids' opinion.  But between my husband taking a few days off and with my MIL's help, I was able leave for the 2 day workshop knowing everything would run fairly smoothly at home.

But I dropped Christing off for the bus in the morning (with only a few tears), got my stuff together and set out for the almost 7 hour drive to Grand Rapids MI.  It was a perfect drive - perfect weather, no traffic, no problems whatsoever. 

Amy was very sweet, very organized and very willing to share absolutely everything and anything.   There were 14 attendees at this workshop, which was so nice.  I loved having a small group!  The other ladies were all sweet and I was so glad to learn, not only from Amy, but from them as well. 

Amy discussed everything that goes into preparing for a shoot and gave much more confidence in how to choose locations and find the best light.  She discussed posing and interacting with clients.  She even spent a good deal of time talking about how important wardroble selection really is.     

She also talked about developing your business.  One topic was how important finding your niche is.  If you are a photographer of everything and anything, you may be very good.  However, this approach really isn't going to allow you to truly become a master.  As they say "jack of all trades, master of none".   Amy only photographs children and senior girls.  And she gets many people who get a bit irked when she refuses to shoot senior boys or older children or older families.  But she knows what she loves and she knows what she truly excels at.  And, when you do what you love, you will try your hardest and do your absolute best work possible.  I know there are certain types of shoots I love to do more than others.  But I feel that this year I will continue to try many different opportunities to truly see what I love .  But I also now have the goal of defining my own niche by the end of 2010. 

In the afternoon of our first day, Amy brought in four models and we made our way to an old industrial area in town.  Amy talked us through exactly how she chose the location, looked for the light, posed the subject and set up her camera.  She even explained which angles she chose to shoot at and why.  And then we all had opportunites to try our hand shooting her gorgeous models.  They were all so professional and accomodating.  Even the adorable 4 year old who, understandably, got a bit overwhelmed with the sea of cameras, performed like a pro.  Here are just a few of the 862 photos (no exaggeration here) I took!


The second day was spent going through post-processing in great detail.  I feel that I am pretty well versed in Photoshop and Lightroom, but Amy gave me so many little tips and ideas that have improved my post processing and really helped improve my efficiency.

We ended our second day with a discussion (and pep talk) about pricing and marketing.  Pricing is definitely one of the hardest parts of a business.  But if you aren't priced properly, there is no way you will ever have a successful business.  You will either just, obviously, run out of money and be unable to continue pretty much your current course of breaking even (or worse, losing money).  Or you will burn out and get tired of spending hours and hours in front in your computer, out on shoots, scouting locations, and having almost nothing left to show for your hard work.  This is something I knew long ago, but have been very nervous about doing.  But I have been working for a while on a new price structure and finally implemented it as of June 1.  I also added new products and purchased new samples to be able to offer more to my clients and help them make better decisions on what products would work best for them.

I have to say that attending this workshop was one of the best things I have done for my business thus far.  And I am inspired to continue to improve myself by attending more workshops and seminars in the future. 

If anyone is thinking of attending one of Amy's future workshops, I do have to say that I would recommend it without any reservations.  I really feel it would be beneficial to almost any photographer, experienced or a novice.  And feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

One other note - I finally published my Facebook business page!  More workshop photos there!  Please stop by!