Last fall was an incredibly crazy time for me. My husband and I purchased our first home, and moved into the house in September after a 6 month build process. I was having my busiest wedding season since I started shooting weddings – and usually in the fall things slow down! Earlier in the year I had committed to a workshop, and as the date in October approached, I wondered if I had made a mistake. I was feeling overwhelmed, and I was also wondering if I was truly ready.
Back in 2008 when I started shooting weddings, I happened upon a forum of wedding photographers. One of the first questions I asked was what workshops were the best bang for the buck. As I’ve come to learn over the years, this industry is LOUSY with workshops, and some of them are not as good as others. I knew I wanted to learn from someone whose work I respected, someone that continued to be a working wedding photographer, and that criteria led me to Cliff Mautner’s Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp.
It’s hard to boil down the experience into words, but this workshop was absolutely the best investment I could make in my education. I was pretty nervous going into the workshop. Intimidated, actually. I really admire Cliff’s work and feel like there’s a gap the size of Grand Canyon between his and mine, and I was starting to think maybe I was missing some innate vision that this workshop wouldn’t be able to teach me. Happily, I was very wrong. I learned SO MUCH about seeing moments, about seeing light, about using the right tools for the setting. About helping my work to stand out. I can already see a difference in how I approach my work since last year.
The second surprise was Cliff himself. Now, I’ve never been to a multi-day workshop, so I don’t have any other comparison, but I highly doubt there is a photographer that works harder at giving value to his students. There was not a single second of downtime during the workshop. We had breakfast and lunch at his studio, and those were all working meals. Cliff would stand up at the front of the bus on the way to shoot models on location, hold on to a hand rail, and answer questions from the front of the bus. We all had dinner as a group, and of course the discussion revolved around photography then, as well. Our mornings were typically dedicated to technique discussion, and in the afternoon we’d go outside to practice what we’d learned. We covered everything from differences in lens selection and output, to reception lighting, to making your clients look great outdoors, no matter the time of day. Cliff also shared information with us on the business end, including meeting with clients, how he runs his studio, and how he processes and delivers images and albums to his clients. That was really important information. I feel so many photographers focus on the “art” because it’s more fun, and it’s what we love to do. One of the first things Cliff said to us was, “Don’t turn off your phones. I know you are all running a business, and if someone calls you, then you should take that call.”
As I said, going into the workshop I felt like I wasn’t ready, that I might be wasting my money. Leaving the workshop, I was SO GLAD I made the decision to invest in my skills. The investment level for this workshop was more expensive than any other course I was considering, and it was 100% worth it. I really can’t more highly recommend it if you are looking to take your skills and business to the next level! I also met a great group of people. We started a Facebook group after the workshop and it’s been awesome having a group of photographers to connect with, bounce ideas off of each other, and see how we’ve all progressed since the workshop. It might even be worth it for Cliff to set up an advanced workshop (hint, Cliff! ;) for photographers who have taken his bootcamp!