A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity of attending the photography workshop of Jerry Ghionis. To say it was life-altering for my photography business would be an understatement. I first came across Jerry’s work and heard him speak for the first time at WPPI 2009. Right away I was sucked in by his amazing imagery and ability to capture people. Jerry is recognized as one of the top 5 to 10 wedding photographers in the industry. He has an enormous list of accolades including… being named as one of the Top Ten Wedding Photographers in the World by American Photo magazine and an "Icon of Imaging" by Microsoft. Needless to say…Jerry has been and is one of my greatest reasons for pursuing my photography career. It was back in February of 2009 that I was determined to one day attend one of his workshops.
I have been a member of Jerry’s ICE Society (Inspire, Challenge, Educate) since 2009 and was floored when he announced his 2010 workshops which included a stop in Chicago. Being an ICE Society member not only entitled me to a discount on the workshop but also first shot at purchasing a spot. I eagerly awaited the presale purchase date and purchased my spot immediately back in November.
Fast forward to April of this year. The day finally came for the workshop…it was amazing! I was beyond nervous as the workshop began…many of the attendees had large studios with years and years of experience, a storefront, and employees. I felt out of place as my business began just under 2 years ago. My fears were quickly erased as Jerry explained that this week would “change” our lives and that he didn’t care how much experience we had, rather he stated (many times)…
"You don't have to be the best photographer, you just have to be better than you were last week."
The week began with a critique of each of the 18 attendees. The critiques were grueling and downright uncomfortable. The critiques were honest (something I feel does not always happen in this industry). Each attendee was required to provide 10 images from a recent shoot straight out of camera (SOOC) and 5 finished images that defined us as a photographer. Jerry’s big thing is “getting it right in camera.” That was one of my purposes for attending the workshop. I already use minimal post-processing on my images, but I wanted to refine this skill even further. The critiques for the entire group of attendees took close to 8 hours! It was mind-blowing how much was learned during that time.
The second day included finishing critiques in the morning and shooting with models during the afternoon. It was invaluable to stand next to Jerry and understand his thought process for his images. The group was able to watch Jerry shoot and pose as well as take images for our own benefit. During this time, there were other models which we were able to personally shoot by ourselves for 10 minutes. It was amazing to see how quickly improvements were made in how I posed and found light. At the conclusion of the day, we were asked to bring one image for critique from our 10 minute shoot with the models and of course the image was to be SOOC.
The third day included a critique of our previous day images as well as a shoot with the models. However, this shoot was to be couples modeling rather than just one model. We were able to see how Jerry gets such genuine reactions from his couples. Jerry had us perform exercises to help us create natural poses. I also could not believe how great the images were looking for me SOOC. All images in this post are SOOC with absolutely no adjustments. Once again, we were asked to bring one image from our 10 minutes with the models (SOOC). In the evening, we went out for a night shoot with a model. Lighting techniques included, video lighting, off camera flash, and available light sources. Jerry even took time to take a head shot of each of us using available light from a lit sign.
The fourth day included a branding critique. This was rough for me as I have been in the rebranding process. My new unreleased brand was shown at the workshop and it was quite apparent that my branding was going in the wrong direction for my style and target client. Needless to say, I have begun a new branding process and the initially planned branding will not be used. I came away with a better understanding of how I want my branding to fit in with my style of shooting and my personality. Thursday night was spent enjoying dinner together with the attendees and Jerry and concluded with a late night at a Karaoke Bar. It was great to let loose with the attendees and really forge some lasting relationships with other photographers.
The last day was all about marketing your business. So many valuable ideas were given not only by Jerry but also by many of the attendees. I have so many ideas running through my head… it feels like its going to explode.
In conclusion, this workshop has changed my life (just as Jerry predicted on day one of the workshop). I learned so much about myself as a photographer as well as my technical approach to photographing people. I look forward to how these learning experiences will shape my business in the coming years. The icing on top was the friends that I met at this workshop. This was my first 5 day workshop and there is something to be said about sharing that much time with people who share the same passions. I look forward to seeing and hearing from these friends in the future. They were all very instrumental in making the workshop even better. If anyone is looking for was great way to improve their photography, branding, and business…this is the workshop for you. Trust me!!!
Thanks Jerry for inspiring me to be better than I was last week!
If you have skipped my summary above (i know it’s long), all images in this post have NO post processing adjustments they are all straight out of camera.
The first three images were take as part of my one on one time with the models.
The next several images are included to give a feel of our night shoot. Below are the images that Jerry took for our headshots.
Here is my headshot from Jerry. Allow me to explain. I told Jerry prior to taking this photo that he needs to watch my problem area (my chin). Well Jerry applied a principle that he talked about all week when shooting…he said this about problem areas… If you can’t shoot it, cover it, if you can’t cover it, crop it, if you can’t crop it, don’t shoot it. Needless to say, everyone got a laugh out of this.
The remaining images were set up by Jerry but taken with my camera using my own settings. I do not take credit for the posing and light, but rather use them to show the types of shots that were taken Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC).