Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've Got Some Things to Learn – The New(er) Professional Photographer as Student

In September, I attended a wedding photography seminar entitled "Craft Your Success" hosted by Davide Greene and Mike Anderson. The marquee speaker was supposed to be David Jay, one of the contemporary luminaries of the wedding photography world. Unfortunately at the previous stop in Toronto, there was a bit of a dispute between Davide, Mike, and David which let to the ensuing fiasco that resulted in David Jay's departure from the tour. This in turn resulted in some miscommunication and a lot of confusion between the speakers who were continuing the tour and the participants in subsequent cities, Winnipeg included. I was still looking forward to the event in spite of what I had read on the internet the day prior to the seminar. In all honesty, as a relative newbie to the scene I hadn't heard of David Jay anyways...

It turned out to be a true learning experience. Davide and Mike touched on technical aspects of wedding photography, new technology (and the extraneousness of some of it), the business of photography, relations with clients, and growth as a person, photographer, business person and artist...? An artist? Indeed, in some (many) circles, the wedding photographer is not held in high esteem, merely another vendor in the mélange of wedding vendors. But I tend to agree with the artist label – there is most definitely an artistry involved. The underlying grunt work of shooting (fun), post processing (sometimes not fun), and passion lead to art, to great images, the end result. This in turn defines you to your clientele and then dictates the perceived value of your work. I came away from the seminar with a renewed sense of what I was doing, what I wanted to do, and what I needed to do to achieve that end.

Fast forward to last night's photographer soirée. Thanks to Nghia for inviting me and to Trevor for hosting it at his home studio! There were a couple of photographers that I already knew on a personal basis, some I'd heard of by name, some I'd seen at the seminar but never got to know, and some others like me who were beginning on their wedding photography business paths. It was an impressive collection of talented people.

For most of the night, I was awed by Trevor's place. Suffice it to say, I'm sure anybody who enters will be awed not only by the house and sense of design, but by the amazing images lining the walls. Looking through his albums, I was even more impressed. At this point in my business, every time I shoot is a learning experience, so I am aspiring to the quality that he is able to produce.

I lifted my jaw off the carpet long enough to listen to what more experienced photographers had to say. It was interesting to hear their opinions and anecdotes about pricing, contracts, products, dealing with clients, dealing with outside service suppliers, work flow, presentation, and on and on... Speaking with the two I already knew, they told me it was refreshing to meet in a more informal situation like this, and getting to know people they'd met or seen at various venues while shooting.

I heard this may become a monthly affair. I'm definitely happy to have attended and hope to attend more events like this – I learned a lot. But I want to learn more, and I know I have more to learn. Open eyes and an open mind are crucial to my development as a photographer and business person.

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