The first part of this year has been all about professional growth and honing in on our business brand. We had some money left in savings after we filed our taxes this year, so we took the opportunity to sign up for WPPI, the Julie Paisley desert shootout, and the Art of Authentic Posing with Justin and Mary.
The workshop with Justin and Mary took place in Denver on a chilly April day. Myself and about 10 other women gathered at the Studio for five hours of instruction, followed by some live demonstrations, a chance to shoot a really cute couple, and time left over for a few headshots for our business.
After attending Mary’s session at WPPI, I knew that I would enjoy hearing about their business practices more in depth and they didn’t disappoint. Mary has a very easy way about her, relaxed and down to earth, encased in cute New England fashion (she is also a lover of polka dots, yay!), and Justin is her back up and business partner. Always there with a bottle of water, a snack, or a reminder to take time to breath in the thin mountain air.
Aside from their business knowledge, I enjoyed watching them interact because their love for each other, as well as their love of what they do is so evident. Its so nice to see other partner teams function as smoothly as Heather and I do and its a good reminder of why we thought it was important to brand ourselves as a couple’s business.
For the instruction part of the workshop, the focus was on creating and inspiring natural posing between a couple. We worked with Bailey and Jordan, who were willing to don their wedding clothes and put up with a group of women holding cameras in their faces :)
I have to admit it got a little scary at one point when Mary asked for volunteers to practice posing Bailey with some of the techniques she had just taught. I think everyone’s eyes immediately went to the floor and I suddenly felt like a 2nd grader, trying to avoid being called on. In my head I was saying “volunteer! do something you’re afraid of! just do it!”, but I couldn’t seem to make myself say the words. There is something really scary about shooting in front of a room full of other photographers that is way more scary than shooting with clients. Its like we’re all afraid of being judged by our peers, which is kind of crazy, because being judged in a constructive way is really how we push ourselves to get better.
After about 20 seconds of silence, a girl braver than I volunteered. Once one person had said they would go first, I volunteered 2nd. Hey, at least if I looked like a fool I wouldn’t have to bear it alone, right? Thankfully, I don’t think I embarrassed myself, but I was really nervous and it came across in the chopped way that I addressed Bailey at first. My problem with posing (and a main reason I came to the workshop in the first place) is that I sometimes don’t know how to start when I’m a little nervous, the couple is nervous, and I’m not warmed up yet. There is a reason that most photographers get better as a session goes along.
But after about a minute I was able to take a deep breath, think about what I had just learned, and apply it to my posing. Whew.
Mary had tons of tips, including “Mary’s 8 commandments of Posing” and great ideas on how to incorporate gesture into the posing flow. One thing in particular that I really liked about her posing tips is that the images that they facilitate look different for every couple. The directions are easy to remember, use, and tweak for each couple, but allow enough room for individual variations that are truly reflective of each unique couple. In other words, she helped us create the authentic moments between our couple.
In particular, there was one statement that really resonated with me:
Before you ask a couple to do something, ask yourself if its something that they would do if you weren’t there.
If they wouldn’t do it naturally, on their own, without us and our camera gear present, then the pose won’t create an authentic moment. The purpose of posing and incorporating gestures is to get the couple to a place where they do something that is natural to them. As capturing each couple in their own unique relationship is a cornerstone of our photographic style, I take this statement to heart.
A few of my captures from the outdoor portion of our workshop are below, but I think the biggest takeaways probably came from their presentation before and the 10 minutes Mary demonstrated with the couple while we watched and took mental notes.
Thanks for hosting the workshop, Justin and Mary! And thanks for dinner, too :)