Although I stayed very quiet at the workshop, I do go off on tangents from time to time (ask my best friend how I feel about Nickelback). I spent two and a half days soaking everything in, letting it twist and turn in my head, and honestly just enjoying the whole experience. Now. Here’s my tangent…
I’m tired of “rockstar” photographers. I’m tired of photographers selling me shit (and a lot of it is shit). I’m just as guilty as the next. I bought gadgets because “successful” photographers told me I needed them. I don’t use them. I paid waaaaaaay more than I should have for videos and magazines because they were going to give me all the answers. They didn’t tell me anything. I bought into selling your personality and the bookings will come. Use your website to showcase yourself, then your work. I sat around for weeks, months, trying to figure out how to brand my personality. Then I decided that I’m not super trendy, I don’t wear super trendy clothes, I don’t take five million selfies (honestly, I’m reeeeeeeallly bad at them). Well, I must be boring, and boring doesn’t showcase well on a website. So there goes that idea. What now?
Well, friends, back to basics. About what photography is about. Light. About what being a wedding and portrait photographer is about. Serving clients, giving them a great experience AND amazing images.
I discovered Cliff Mautner’s work in one of the very first wedding photography books that I ever bought. I fell in love with his use of light and followed his work. But, it was the interviews that I listened to that drew me in most. No BS, tell it like it is style, he makes a living shooting rather than selling crap to photographers that they don’t need and doesn’t fill their heads with fantasies (Although, he could easily make a living out of teaching since he has 30 years experience, and is a well respected member of the photography community with ample awards to prove it, including a life time achievement award from WPPI).
I could be completely factual and tell you about how he made a point on the first night to remember every name of every person attending the workshop (there was 19 of us); about the catering he (and his awesome Office Manager, Noelle) organized for us; about the time he spent with us during the meet and greet (before the workshop even started), the two 13 hour days and the last half day, all packed with information, answering any question, not wasting one minute; and about the attention that he showed to every single person in the workshop, checking the LCD’s on our cameras, giving us immediate feedback and critiquing workshop and non-workshop work during the last day (I have to admit this part was the hardest for me, I was actually literally stomach sick at the thought of him reviewing my work).
All of those things were amazing, but what I want to talk about is what this workshop meant to me. What it did for my soul. I cried as I was leaving for the airport. I was emotional because of the work that I’ve put into my photography, and the (maybe perceived) obstacles that stopped me from moving forward so many times before. And finally, here I was, learning from one of the best wedding photographers in the world. I was emotional because I felt like Cliff had given me a new set of eyes to actually see light. Really see it. And, because I felt I was given a new confidence to move forward with a realistic outlook. No fantasies here, just a reality of hard work and pushing forward in learning your business, developing your craft, and serving your clients in the best way that you can. All of the things that I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it.
I can’t thank Cliff enough for sharing his experience, knowledge and insight, for his patience with us and for his willingness to be so open with us. I’m thankful for the people that shared the experience, they are beautiful people and wonderful photographers from all over the world. Truly, without a doubt, the best investment I have ever made in myself and my photography.