A few months ago without warning I received an email from JStar Photography, she was about to release 20 spots for her popular photography workshop, here in Orange County. I knew from reading her blog that everyone who attended one of her workshops came away saying how much it had shifted the way they approached not only the way they shoot but the way they ran their photography business. This is exactly what I was looking for. A chance to spend the day to watch and learn from one of the industry’s top photographers. Sign me up.
I have always wanted to try my hand at shooting weddings. I was recently approached to do a wedding and quickly realized having zero experience photographing weddings was going to make that a wee bit difficult. I tactfully declined although I’m pretty sure the bride-to-be had already moved on after I suggested that we shoot the couple together before the actual ceremony, something she had never heard of. I would later learn at Jasmine’s workshop these sessions often called first looks are completely legit, I felt somewhat redeemed.
So what’s the first thing you do when you are enrolled in Jasmine’s workshop? You create a facebook group and book a pre-workshop cocktail party. My kind of group. You would think it would be hard to get to know people without meeting them, but under the shroud of privacy the group felt like I safe place to share ideas and ask questions. Plus it helps having a few social butterflies in the ranks, Charlie I’m looking at you. Charlie and I would go back and forth on facebook, counting the days to the workshop and our margarita.
I rented a couple prime lenses the 50 1.2 and a 70-200 IS. I heard that when you are shooting among 20 others you’ll want a zoom in your arsenal, plus I really wanted to try the 200 to see if it really was as heavy as I had heard (it was). I broke down and bought the fugliest wheeled carry on sized bag for my gear, over the past year my collection of equipment has finally pushed me out of my manageable sized Kata bag. I charged my batteries, wiped a few memory cards clean and headed to Javiers for our pre-workshop get together. It was great to have the chance to meet everyone in person, some people had flown in from as far away as Canada and the east coast, I didn’t have the heart to tell them drove all of 15 minutes to get there. Jasmine joined in our fun and gave us our first crack at opening up the floor to questions, I admire her openness.
Arrived at the workshop where we were greeted with pastries, coffee and a hand written note for each attendee welcoming us to the workshop. From someone with a promotions background I can attest to the HUGE impact this has, brilliant branding.
We grabbed our seats and settled in and Jasmine immediately launched into the ABCs of building your brand, finding your customer and working smarter not harder. When you attend her workshop you’ll soon learn that ANYTHING is fair game when it comes to questions. You can ask her anything and she’ll GO THERE and then some. Her openness and willingness to share makes her a true teacher. I sat there absorbing it all. It made me think about my photography business and what I wanted from it. I have to say after listening to Jasmine for an hour I realized I had A LOT of work to do. Can you say scrap everything and rebuild? I think you just got a peek into how I am going to spend my summer.
As she spoke about finding your niche she surprised me with this next segment. In order for her to have a successful business she emphasized the important of learning how to use those skills to GIVE BACK. So here it was again, the message of giving back. I wrote down and underlined the word CHOC in my notebook. Just days before I found myself photographing babies in the NICU at Children’s Hospital Orange County, a day that really opened my eyes to possibility of giving to others with my photography. Finding a way to help others while building on my photo skills business seems like the perfect marriage of philanthropy and creativity. What a great take-away from the days workshop. This is definitely one area I am most interested in developing when I begin the process of rebuilding my photography business over the summer.
After lunch and more class time we had the chance to get out and shoot. I was more than anxious to see just how I would fare among the other seasoned photographers. I figured I would assert myself and apply some of Jasmine’s good advice, if you want to shoot a 10,000.00 wedding then shoot EVERY wedding (including a shoe string budget wedding) like it’s a 10,000 dollar wedding. Just another reinforcement for envisioning your future.
Stacey and Joe, fellow photographers (<– click to see their incredible work) odeled for the shoot. Complete with full hair and make up it was the closest thing to shooting a real life blushing bride. This was multitasking at its best, listening to Jasmine call out her settings while making mental notes of the barrage of shooting tips. The biggest help for me was to hear her shout out her settings so we could compare or adjust our own. I realized that most of my photos were very underexposed. When I heard her ISO/f-stop/exposure setting I kept thinking to myself that seems to bright but when we saw her images later straight out of the camera she was right on the money and mine were too dark. The take away here was I can’t rely on the LCD panel to gauge my exposure, I know rookie maneuver.
bouquet by LA/OC florist Heavenly Blooms.
We spend the last hour watching her go through her workflow. She is extremely efficient and knows how to trim the fat. I’m beginning to see the value of outsourcing the edit process. We wrapped up with a Q&A session that I sat in on while I browsed her albums. I couldn’t get enough of the creative inspiration I was feeling that day. As I scrolled through some of my shots on my camera I smiled, I liked what I saw but what I liked even more is what I felt, finally a feeling of direction for my business.
The workshop didn’t end here though. After time for a few group shots we all met for a dinner, family style. Dinner gave us a chance to get to know the other half of the Jasmine Star duo, also known as JD. Talk about a great host and support to Jasmine, JD works quietly in the background ensuring the workshop goes off without a hitch. The attention to details and thoughtfulness of the day’s agenda did not go unnoticed. From start all the way through the final course at dinner all your needs were taken care of.
I shot over 500 images in little over an hour with the expectation that I would have a couple that I really liked. Jasmine considered it a success if we walked away with as little as 3 VERY GOOD images for our portfolio and you know what, she was right. After a few people reviewed my portfolio they all said the same thing I had several good images but a couple were stad outs. Picking out a favorite is hard but the image below is definitely one of them. I’m sure I could go back and edit a few more and when my new site is up I will definitely showcase them there but for now you can see more from the workshop at modchik photography.
If you are interested in attending one of her future workshops, the best advice I can give you is to sign up on her email list. She doesn’t announce the workshops on her site or blog, email subscribers get first dibs, and when that email hits your inbox you better be quick. I would also HIGHLY recommend subscribing to her blog, she posts daily from everything about wedding photo tips to her obsession with letterpress.
Recapping this event has been a true blogging joy for me. I hope you got a feel for what its like to be surrounded by super star energy and creativity. Jasmine is as lovely and warm in person as she appears in her videos. She is extremely generous with her knowledge and if you’re smart you’ll take some of that mojo and pay it forward, after all you always get back what you give.