May 27, 2014

Jeff Newsom Workshop Review | Ultra Atlanta ATLMGDDN 2014

Life Wedding Workshop

After a few months of letting it sink in I figured it was time to write a quick blog post about my experience at Jeff Newsom’s Atlanta workshop ATLMGDDN which took place at the Goat Farm in April, and what I got out of it. Another mostly rambling blog post with stream of consciousness thoughts, but I think I eventually get to the point…

TL;DR Workshop Review: Lots of technical information was given, realize I already know a lot of it, but come to the conclusion that Jeff taught me an important life lesson to continue being an artist true to yourself. Worth it, but took me a while to realize what I learned.

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

To preface this post, their is a saying “don’t meet your heroes” and after the workshop I was a little bummed out to be honest. Jeff is a laid back guy and honestly I can see a lot of myself in him in his personality and approach to wedding photography and life in general. Some of his creative wedding photos that everyone goes crazy over, are things I already know how to do. As a class we learned a bit of everything, from philosophy to execution, to some of the “magic” in the photos. Explaining some of the tricks behind others were interesting of course and did get my wanting to try and experiment more with some things like double exposures.

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

The ATLMGDDN workshop itself started normal enough, with Jeff talking a lot about his family and a bit about himself as a person. Everything is laid back, informal, and intimate with the small class size of 15. Anyone that wants to ask a question is more than encouraged and their was no pressure or expectations with the group. After the long personal stories, we looked at a bunch of photos and people asked how certain ones were made, and even quickly viewed a full wedding as Jeff delivers it to a client. We talked a bit about gear, and the minimalist approach to things rather than always needing more lenses than you can use. After the first half of the day and some amazing lunch at Yeah! Burger, we did a live photo shoot. Here are a few more photos I snapped randomly with the A7r.

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

During the shoot again I was rather uninspired that their was nothing really earth shattering Jeff was doing during the session. I guess once you’ve been shooting weddings enough everyone does really similar things. The approach to posing for a natural feel is slightly different than I do it, and everyone has their own approach to working with clients. Their was a pre-workshop email from Jeff that asked for questions you wanted him to cover, which I responded to asking for more philosophy and the thought process behind the photos, but then Jeff admitted that he doesn’t even read the emails his wife does so I guess he never got it. He did touch on a bit about shooting for the edit of course, and you can always pick up on things seeing how someone else would handle a situation versus how you would at the exact same time, so at least their was that. The shoot was rather short and to the point, just to show us a few ways he poses and interacts and then to get some photos to work with and process in Lightroom next.

Jeff Newsom Ultra Atlanta Workshop Review

The second half of the day was on the whole more informative when Jeff talked a bit about his editing philosophy, actually seeing the processed photos, looking at the full wedding, and some more light painting experimentation. After dinner Jeff did one of his light painting Gold Records, again seeing it in person sort of takes away from it, especially if you have any interest in light painting at all and know about making orbs (ball of light) and the variations of them.

So wow, what a negative post, right? I had a wedding the next day and was a little bummed after the workshop because honestly it was a lot of stuff I already knew. I’ve had an interest in light painting forever it seems, and incorporating it into weddings was always a goal. This light painting Indian wedding photo, a wedding in 2011…

Indian Wedding Light Painting | Zainab & Farhan's Wedding Day 2 | Fort Myers Beach Photo Shoot | Ft. Myers Indian Wedding Photographer

Triple exposure photo with lights? April 2012…

Megan Dances with Light | Light Painting in Piedmont Park | Atlanta Creative Wedding Photographer

Long exposure wedding photos showing the stars and Milky Way? I shot this in May 2012…

Ashley & Gaurav's Wedding in Sedona, Arizona 5/20/12 | Milky Way Wedding Photo Re-Visited for Blog

Then, it was in the middle of the 4-day Indian wedding that weekend when it finally hit me. What I got out of this workshop wasn’t technical know-how, I know how to do a lot of the “tricks” that make photos from people like Jeff Newsom or Sam Hurd that everyone seems to go crazy for. No, what I got out of this workshop was the personal philosophy that Jeff has, which made the workshop 100% worth it. It’s to stop caring about what other people thing, and stay true to yourself and your art.

Ashley & Gaurav's Wedding in Sedona, Arizona 5/20/12 | Milky Way Wedding Photo Re-Visited for Blog

Those photos from above are 2011 and 2012… but when have I really stepped outside my creative comfort zone since? Sure, I’ve been refining my posing, lighting, and post processing in these past years but I had neglected to really experiment and think outside the box like I used to. I guess it’s natural evolution in the life of a wedding photographer though, and as you focus on booking weddings like crazy and inevitably start comparing yourself to other photographers and try to “keep up with the Joneses” – you sort of forget the playfulness that you had when just starting out.

So, what does it mean? What was my double rainbow epiphany? Just to keep on keepin’ on. The important lesson I learned at the workshop is really just “be true to yourself.” It’s such a cliche thing to say, but it’s really tough to actually internalize it and do it. For some people, maybe it’s reading one of those motivational articles (like this “I hate wedding photography” one last week from Zack Arias’ DEDPXL collective) or for others, like myself, maybe it’s taking that workshop you always wanted to take before you realize what you need to do. So yeah that just means making better photos, and making better art, and not worrying about the wedding industry, because like the essay says “I hate wedding photography” too, but I love weddings and brides, and grooms, and families, and celebrations, and creating lasting memories. Also I was reminded, making more time for experimentation. Sure, still do all the normal photos we always take, the awesome portraits and candid photojournalist moments, but also to remember to have fun, like to play around with light painting like I learned from the light painting master, Dennis Calvert, when did I stop having fun with that? So that’s my resolve for the second half of 2014 and going forward: make time for myself and just keep making the photos I want to make without worrying at all about what other photographers are doing and what I “should” be doing as a wedding photographer. 100+ image blog posts? Yep, I think I’ll keep doing those. Epic portraits and light painting? I think that shall continue and pick up where I left off.

Behind the Scenes Light Painting in Alabama with Dennis Calvert

Remember this? 2011…

Ok, enough rambling on this blog post. To check out the actual photos that Jeff posted from the shoot head over to his blog post here: http://www.jeffnewsom.com/imported-data/days-of-ultra-past-atlanta-ga and view the main Jeff Newsom site at http://www.jeffnewsom.com/ .

Now let’s get back out there and continue making magic.

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