Tips & Tricks: Staying ON During OFF season

Ok, so I usually do these on Tuesdays, but yesterday was full of consults and wedding booking and blogging other stuff- so, it’s Wednesday and I’m doing a little installment of Tips and Tricks about honing your craft and growing as an artist.

To me, there is nothing more important as an artist than renewal and growth. From about March through December, we hit it HARD around here. I shoot most every day of the week, have a wedding most weekends, and spend the rest of the time editing and making sure all of my peeps are happy. I don’t have a lot of time for me – to invest in making ME better. So, during the off season, I make sure that is exactly what I concentrate on. I am not one of those people that write down my goals, maybe I should – but honestly, I know them. They are in my heart and head and resonate everyday. It’s not a resolution thing, it’s an off-season tradition. I think about what I want the year to look like and how I am going to make that happen.

This year, I have a few things I want to do as an artist and I plan to have some fun making that happen. The main thing I like to do is connect with other photographers all over the country (and some out of this country) and figure out how to make myself better for my clients. I have formed some lovely relationships with some amazing supporters along the way and I love reconnecting with these people any chance I can.

(1) My first trip will be in a few weeks where I will be shooting a wedding with Bob Davis as part of the Real Wedding Workshop at the Ritz Carlton in Georgia. How much fun is that?! I first met Bob and Dawn Davis (out of Chicago) about 4 years ago at a workshop in Nashville, where they held a Real Wedding Workshop that was out of this world fun. At the time, I really wanted to learn more about off-camera lighting and Bob was the main man to learn from. Both he and his wife Dawn have incredible hearts for teaching other photographers and I couldn’t have had a better experience. I have since caught up with them at different conferences and a few lighting tours Bob has done within the past year. I am also so super excited because my friends Tracey and Dee of 37 Frames will be at this workshop as well. They are an Australian duo that have been shooting in Japan for several years and are such amazing artists. Plus, they make me laugh and I take all of that I can get. Trace and Dee have becomes masters of off-camera lighting and I am hoping they rub some of their mo-jo on me. Mostly, getting a chance to hug all of my friends will also just be good for this little photog’s soul.

This is Bob, Dawn and me at WPPI a few years ago. We went to a real live cattle ranch for a styled shoot – super fun day with all of my peeps.

(2) I have also wanted to explore more of the fashion side of my work – things like set building, shooting more in studio, and creating beautiful artistic styled shoots. That is something I think Three Nails Photography, Hunter Leone does really beautifully. Plus, he is pretty close to me distance-wise and I can easily make the trip. I am heading down there for a two day workshop next month that should be super fun. I know absolutely no one that is going to be there, so this will be a fun chance to meet some new photographers, check out his methods for these crazy awesome styled shoots he does, and shoot some really pretty stuff. There is nothing that excites me more than pretty clothes and makeup on a shoot. I really dork out about it.

(3) I am pretty darn excited about the third thing I am doing before crazy season starts again. I will be heading out to California to spend a full day in a one-to-one with Elizabeth Messina. My husband gave me this for Christmas and yes, I did the ugly cry. Her work absolutely takes my breath away. If you look at her Instagram feed, you will get stuck there and be there for hours. I just can’t even deal with how pretty it is.

I just keep staring at what she sent… I am so thankful to be able to meet her. I know she doesn’t normally offer one-on-one type sessions, so this is a huge deal. The hubs kind of outdid himself on this one, I must say.

All of these experiences should be really different – these are three VERY different artists with different kinds of specialties and experiences.
– Bob has shot anything from Eva Longoria’s wedding to most recently the bachelorette’s wedding that was televised on ABC. Bob has written several books, has an amazing collection of teaching videos, and his experience is just unmatched. He dedicates so much time to teaching other photographers – but is just as down to Earth as can be. He and Dawn are just the best.
– Hunter Leone is probably ten years younger than me, but in a short amount of time he has created a brand and business out of workshops that is really huge. His work and workshops are so lovely.
– Elizabeth has shot the most amazing weddings, the most recent one I am obsessed with is Jessica Simpson’s wedding to Eric Johnson. That bridal that was featured in People Magazine was just beyond everything amazing. She has written books on lighting and posing and there just a list too long to name of all that she has done. A few years ago at WPPI, a portrait conference for wedding and portrait photographers, she filled an auditorium full of photographers and I think she had everyone of us crying about her passion and subsequently our passion about the work we do. (I know, we’re big dorks) She has written a lovely book that I read a few years back, The Luminous Portrait. Go get it – it will melt you into butter.

I feel like it is our responsibility to our clients to be able to give them the very best of ourselves. To do that, you have to always be learning, growing, and trying to stretch your wings as far as you can. If you feel like your off-camera lighting techniques are weak – you need to go and learn it. If you want to be able to pose and style your clients better – you need to go learn that. I have been shooting for a long time now, but I think there is always always always something to be learned from being around other creatives. Whether I just meet new photographers or even sometimes a new makeup artist or model. Growth as an artist comes from putting yourself out there and investing in your craft.

I am actually TEACHING my first workshop this summer and I could not be more excited. More information is coming very soon about that, but it is a workshop geared toward photographers that want to become better photographers and want to shoot weddings. We’re going to spend a half day on portrait work and then an entire day going through what it’s like to shoot a wedding. It should be super fun and I CANNOT wait!

Ok – these two filthy animals are staring at me and I must go out and jog off some of their energy, so that’s all for now!

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  • Whitney, You are one of the most amazing and beautiful women I know. We are so excited to see you again next week. This workshop is going to be crazy!!! And so fun! Bob and I couldn’t agree with you more about taking the time to educate yourself, especially in off season. Stepping outside your comfort zone and attending a workshop surrounded by people you know you will inspired you by is such a gift, not only to improve your craft but to light a fire under you and spark your passion and creativity again. It’s always good for the soul. See you very soon girlie! Love you! ~ Dawn and BobReplyCancel

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