Today’s blog entry is geared towards learning. Sorry, there won’t be any photo posts in this one, but it will address something that’s been on my mind for a while; shootouts and workshops.

Years ago when I got serious about model photography, I had decided that I didn’t want to be on the forefront, I didn’t want to teach workshops. I wanted to be the guy that put event’s on and had people out. A friend of mine named Nus, talked me into putting on a meet and greet. It was fun and we had about 6 photographers and about 12 models. Great turn out and we got some good images. Let’s fast forward six years and discuss today’s situation; the “do it for money” guys.

In today’s economy, “photographers” are finding it hard to make money with their cameras. They all figure if they buy a Canon EOS 5D Mark II or Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, that people will FLOCK to their doors. By attaching that wonderful title of “Professional” in front of Photographer, they will have to beat the clients off with a stick. They realize rather quickly that that just won’t happen! That clients are looking for the cheapest work they can find. These photographers are now turning to “teaching”

I look around at some of the meetup groups and I’m most times, ashamed to call myself a photographer, let alone educator. These “workshops” are nothing more than an unorganized, chaotic group of wild guys trying to shoot the youngest, hottest model they can get to. Now let’s be realistic, it’s human nature for guys to want to shoot hot babes, but if you’re going to do it, why not make it the BEST photos you can take? These groups are often lead by a photographer who has no right to “instruct” or just a gathering of photographers with no instruction. Who is the winner and loser in these situations? The person organizing is the winner; the photographers paying are the losers.

“How am I losing?” you might be asking. Simple, you’ve paid 50.00-100.00 (or more) to shoot a model that you could have most likely, done a tfcd with. And you’ve got 50-1k images of less than stellar work. That hurts you as the purpose of attending something like this, is to BETTER yourself, not expose you to girls that you don’t have access to normally. I want to review quickly, some of the things I see in the various meetup groups. I will not name names, but just give you an example of what you may not see when you go there:
Horror lighting: “Horror lighting” is the type of photography you get when you place the light UNDER the eyes of the model. Let’s quickly flash back to when you were a child at camp; everyone gathered around the fireplace and put the flashlight under their chin and told spooky stories. The result was horrid shadows under the eye sockets and the nose shadow no TOP of the nose. This happens when a light is placed too low.
Flat light: When there are no ACCEPTABLE shadows on the face and the image is usually all one color, or one heavily induced color. I.e. the backdrop and skin tones match. There is no shadow on the face and as a result, the photo looks unappealing.

Groups with no instructor: There are plenty of groups like this out there. No one instructing, just an organizer pulling 10-20 mid-range girls together and having 25-30 guys all fight for their spot to shoot this model. Often times, the fight for the spot ends up with photographers walking in front of other photographers.
Hot shoe flash: The recent craze in photography is the “strobist” mentality. The mentality of buying 5-10 hot shoe flash guns and putting homemade modifiers on them. What’s the problem with this? NO MODELING LIGHTS! No modeling lights, no way to tell what or where your light is, that and the serious lack of modifiers. I am not anti flash guns, but used only to compliment the scene, not to try and light one.

The “here today, gone tomorrow” guys: There are plenty of meetup groups like that! These photographers expect to make a KILLING teaching, only to find out unless you know what you’re doing, there really isn’t much to go on. These guys usually make a killing at their first group shoot, then quickly fold as everyone found out they were had. The organizers of these groups don’t understand what is going on, why they made so much money the first month, and nothing after. This is because teaching requires KNOWLEDGE, both photography and people teaching skills.

“Jay, how can I tell if a meetup group or workshop is good to attend?” Great question! Do your research! When you look at the images the leader has, do their photos represent quality you want to achieve? Has this person put on other group shoots? If yes, how do the ATTENDEES photos look? This is an important question for the simple fact that that is how you’re photos will look! Is the person TEACHING qualified to do so? Do they have any accomplishments such as NATIONAL publications? Do they exhibit a great understanding of various lighting styles? Posing? Will you get something out of it other than the chance to shoot hot chicks? This is your money and more importantly, time. Why not get the best out of it? Is it a shootout (gaggle of photographers gathered together to just shoot hot chicks with no regards to learning) or a workshop (teaching and learning the qualities of light and posing)

I am proud to say that people that come to my workshops actually LEARN! Yes, I do have hot chicks at my workshops, but I have appropriately themed models for the workshop theme. I have shootouts where I just put models and photographers together, as well as actual learning workshops. 99% of my shootouts, I’m STILL instructing because I never want to hear that someone didn’t get something out of coming to one of my workshops.

Here’s a few photos from some photogs at my past events:

This and more is what you can expect from one of my workshops and from those photographers who care about the development of the attendees.


Leave a Reply