Watching Workshops

“Well.” Bambi Cantrell says and throws her arms out. “With a negative attitude like that, no wonder he doesn’t have any work!”

This was in response to someone who told Bambi it was great that her systems worked for her, but what about people who don’t have brand name recognition, don’t have a studio location, and don’t see how they could do the kinds of promotions that she talks about?

I like watching Photography Workshops, but for them to be of any real use, you have to do more than watch, you have to actually do some of the stuff they suggest you do. Ah, that’s the rub.  This is what keeps Wayne Dyer and Anthony Robbins booked for years in advance and makes every new Diet Book a bestseller.  This time, it will be different.

The first workshop I really loved was about Tabletop Photography. At the end of the workshop the instructor said this is how you get clients-do this, this, and this. I actually did the first this, but failed to do any of the rest. It’s always a case of telling myself, well, I don’t have a good enough portfolio yet. Of course, I’ll never have a good enough portfolio.

I like all these people, but some of their advice seems a bit odd. One of Bambi’s promotions is to work with beauty salons. It works like this-you call up the owner of a salon and ask if you can meet them for a few minutes to talk about the possibility of a cross promotion. Once you met them, you invite them to lunch-some place nice-talk about how you want to give each of the salon’s stylists a free framed 16×20. In return the salon will recommend to their clients to have their portraits taken. There’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it.  All well and good, but what if the salon has twenty stylists and I don’t have enough money to hand out twenty framed 16x20s?

Bambi says that this is an investment and that it will pay off for years to come. I’ll buy that, when I have enough money to.  Like she said, it all has to do with attitude.  One thing they all agree on is that equipment is just a tool, you use the best that you can afford.  They all use really good gear, but say they didn’t start out that way.

Most of the workshops I’ve watched can be boiled down to a number of salient points.

1) If you’re charging less than $250 for an 8×10 you’re a rank armature whose ruining the entire photography industry and you should be taken out and shot.

2) You should only be taking portraits of people who are willing to pay the prices you are asking. Price should be the last consideration when someone wants you to take their portrait-your style and personality, or as many of them like to say The Experience,  should be what they are paying for.

3) Be sure to have insurance, get a signed model release, and use watermarks on all your images.

All good advice, Creatives tend to focus on that whole being creative thing and think only about themselves when a chance to make some money presents itself.

For the most part these workshops are just self help seminars for Photographers.  The guest speakers live in a world most of us will never see, but all of us aspire to reach.  Yeah, I run a three thousand dollars average.  Yeah, I get a thousand dollars a shot for my tabletop work.  Yeah, I have to spend weeks at a time roaming around Africa or the Bahamas or India in pursuit of my Art, but it’s worth it.   Yeah, I have a couple of books under my belt and charge a good chunk of change for my many personal appearances.

On the other hand, it’s a proven fact that all diets work-if you can manage to stick with one long enough.  The genius of CreativeLIVE is that they have new workshops all the time, so as soon as you fail at one, you can hop right into the next one.  Hey, I didn’t want to be a Boudoir/Small Product/Children/Wedding Photographer anyway-maybe it’s time to start internet marketing or whipping up my own WordPress Themes.  Or maybe I could think about doing Fine Art Photography with flashlights while the sun is going down.

The latest CreativeLive workshop I watched and really liked was one by Joey L, a child star of the Commercial Photography world who got his first paying gigs when he was 16 years old and following bands around.  He’s a big fan of using strobe light out of doors.  This was a techniques that I first saw in a workshop by Karl Taylor, an over energetic fellow who set up a strobe with a portable power-pack and underexposed the sky while correctly exposing his subject.  Cool images, but where Karl just saw it as one technique out of many, Joey L has built his entire career on it.

The ability to focus on one thing and stick with it has never been one of my strong suits-but it seems to be one thing all the teachers of these workshops have in common.

I have learned a lot from these workshops and CreativeLIVE is a great resource.  I’ve never done a live workshop, so if it weren’t for CreativeLIVE and YouTube I would never have seen any workshops at all.  So maybe Bambi is right, it all boils down to having the right attitude.

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