On Wednesday I attended a workshop in London run by Jasmine Star, a hugely successful wedding photographer from California. Why? Well, I photographed a wedding in June and really enjoyed the experience. I learnt a lot and was pleased with the results. Happily other people seemed very pleased with them too and I had some enquiries about photographing other weddings in the future. So I’ve been working on setting up a business doing just that. Having learnt a lot from Jasmine’s Creative Live classes, attending the workshop seemed like an ideal opportunity to ask lots more questions, learn about the business side of wedding photography and meet some people who I hoped (and hope!) could become my peers.
I won’t beat about the bush: It was an expensive event to book on. When I first heard about it, I had dismissed the idea of going out-of-hand due to the combined cost of the day itself, travel and accommodation. I spent the next couple of days mooching around, feeling that I was going to miss out on a great opportunity to learn. Eventually I realised that if I was still thinking about it two days later, I should really go. So I took the plunge and booked. And I’m glad that I did.
The workshop was at One Marylebone, a light and spacious de-consecrated church. The food, furniture and flowers were all provided for the day by other weddings vendors. Jasmine was exactly as I expected her to be; smiling, laughing and loud. The morning focussed primarily on branding and lots of the practicalities of working with clients. By the end of it, I was even more impressed with Jasmine’s laser-like focus on knowing her clientèle and how to attract them than I was before. It was an informal affair: The small group size meant that everyone was able to ask plenty of questions. Happily there were a couple of other photographers from Hampshire there too, Sam and Carrie. Also on hand was Jasmine’s husband and full-time second shooter, JD, to provide support and water and whatever else Jasmine asked for!
The morning passed in a blur. I was nervous. Buttock-clenchingly, voice-shakingly, glass-droppingly, clumsiness-inducingly nervous. More nervous than I had been on any photo session, conference or when I’m podcasting to thousands of people. I made the mistake of looking through the websites of the other class members not long before the workshop and it really unsettled me. If these established photographers felt they had something to learn from the day, what was I, a website-less, logo-less, three-words-to-describe-your-style-less starter-uperer doing there? Everyone else had spent the last couple of months getting to know each other through Facebook (I’d not been added to the group and forgot to chase it up) so I felt even more out of it. Not that everyone wasn’t absolutely welcoming and friendly; they all were! It was just hard. I was nervous. Did I mention that?
The latter part of the afternoon was taken up with a photo shoot with a real couple, Rachel and Dan. Jasmine led the way and everyone had the opportunity to pose them if they wanted. I struggled a bit as the only lens I had suitable for indoor use with natural light was the 50mm f1.2L. Shooting in a pack of other photographers is hard enough normally and even harder with only a 50mm! I worry about how to differentiate what I shoot from everyone else, especially when you’re physically that close together. It got a bit easier to shoot when we moved outdoors but I still didn’t really have an image in my head that I wanted to create.
As we moved back inside for a final few photos, I spotted the bouquet and shot it on top of the lovely iron radiators in front of the windows. JD came over and shot it too. We ended up chatting for a few minutes about the business, life-styles and all sorts of things. JD is an astonishingly easy-going guy. He’s warm and friendly and talking to him really calmed me down. I think I developed a bit of a man crush on him!
After the shoot we went off for a meal at a nearby restaurant, Villandry. I got into some in-depth discussions, particularly with Peter and Delia as well as JD. By the end of the meal I was relaxing nicely and wished, along with several other people, that there was a second day of the workshop to which to look forward. But there wasn’t so we went to the bar to try and persuade the grumpy waitresses to serve us even though it was all of half past ten.
Twenty-four hours later, lying in bed with my eyes closed and still trying to process everything I’d learnt, I suddenly could see the pose I would have used during the photo shoot. And I think it is beautiful.
Thanks to Jasmine and JD for being awesome, all my fellow attendees and everyone involved in running the workshop:
Venue: Alicia at One Marylebone
Flowers: Pollen Nation
Cakes: Restoration Cake (mini cakes) and Janet Mohapi-Banks (large ‘rose’ cake)
Furniture: Great Hire
Caterers: The Recipe
Hair: Severin Hubert of The Hepburn Collection
Make Up: Elbie Van Eeden
Behind the Scenes Video: Richard Wakefield of FX Films
Organiser: Kat Williams of Rock n Roll Bride