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I was talking with J Sandifer the other day about how many great wedding workshops are coming up in the next few months. J is a liveBooks sales consultants and also runs a wedding studio in Portland, Maine, with his wife, Emilie. I’ve been eager to have him contribute to RESOLVE, since he has expertise in SEO and social media as well as wedding and commercial photography. So I asked him to pick out a few workshops that provide something unusual and that offer a range of classes for all kinds of wedding photographers.

Dane Sanders
You don’t always have to leave town to attend a top-notch workshop — Dane Sanders’ Fast Track Road Show Workshop might be coming to a town near you. This traveling workshop is visiting two more cities in the coming months, with more engagements added regularly. Expanding on the principles outlined in his popular book, Fast Track Photographer, Dane’s workshop helps photographers implement his Fast Track Philosophy and discover the strategies and tactics that work best for their business. Also emphasizing community, the workshop wraps up with an informal coffee talk with Dane and the other photographers in the class.
Where & when: Chicago: June 15-16; New York City: October 20-21
How much: $750

The speaker list — and the guest list — for this “luxury wedding business summit” is always a who’s who of the wedding photography world. By careful cultivating an atmosphere of effortless networking that encourages an open exchange of ideas, information, and inspiration, organizers Rebecca Grinnals & Kathryn Arce cultivate candid discussions of the issues and opportunities facing members of the luxury wedding industry.
Grand Cayman Island, British West Indies
When: June 21st – June 23rd
How much: $2,000

If I Had Just One Wedding with Garrett Nudd
Garrett Nudd’s short-but-sweet workshop may only be one day long, but he promises to cover the full specture of topics that wedding photographers are most interested in, including, marketing, branding, goals and business planning, how to get published, the value of positive vendor relationships, destination weddings, identifying unseen opportunities in a challenging economy, and creating photographic art that commands attention and sets you apart.
Where: Indianapolis, Indiana
When: June 15
How much: $99

Italy Workshop with Gene Higa and Jose Villa
In the highly competitive wedding market, there is never just one right answer to any question. Students at the Italy Workshop will benefit from the synergy of two dynamic instructors, Gene Higa and Jose Villa, who will share experience from their different points of view, different shooting styles, and different marketing approaches. And as far as destination workshops go, it doesn’t get much better than Tuscany.
Where: Cavriglia, Chanti – Tuscany, Italy
When: October 27-29th
How much: $1,950

ROOTS Workshop
In this economy, distinguishing yourself from the competition is more important than ever. This week-long photojournalism-focused retreat in Cape Cod helps photographers become stronger visual storytellers with group exercises, editorial assignments, and a staff that nearly outnumbers the students. ShootQ has also teemed up with ROOTS (a.k.a. Emilie Sommer) to offer a $500 scholarship to one lucky photographer.
Where: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
When: July19-24
How much: $3,200

Wedding Summit
The Wedding Summit, run by Frances Marron and Kristy Chenell, helps photographers adapt to the ever-changing market by focusing on individual business branding, vision, and goals. The Summit strives to provide students with the tools they need to generate maximum revenue in creative, simple, and effective ways.
Where: Orlando, Florida
When: Aug. 24-27
How much: $2,000

If your schedule or budget doesn’t allow for a workshop right now, you can find some great information from several of these instructors in our free webinars archive. Check out informative sessions with Dane Sanders, Gene Higa, and J Sandifer. And don’t miss Becker’s recent post about utilizing social media to build your brand and business.

The Foundry Photojournalism Workshop began in 2008 when Eric Beecroft, a teacher and photographer, discovered a blank spot in the array of workshops being offered to photojournalists — one that emerging and international shooters could afford. He and his team organized the first Foundry in Mexico City and got an impressive array of instructors to sign on, including Paula Bronstein, Stanley Green, Ron Haviv, and Stephanie Sinclair. We talked with Eric about this year’s workshop, in Manali, India, from July 26 to August 1, why it is important to include local photographers (South Asian shooters get a 50% discount) and how students can get the most out of the workshop — or any workshop, for that matter.
©Claudia Wiens, Courtesy Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

From Claudia Wiens' story on women wrestlers in Mexico, produced at last year's Foundry Workshop. ©Claudia Wiens, Courtesy Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

Miki Johnson: Tell me about how the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop started.

Eric Beecroft:
I was thinking a few years ago, I’d been doing photography for about seven years and I wanted to take a workshop. I looked around and there were some great ones, but they were all impossibly expensive, particularly for students. I’m also a teacher, and they were too expensive for teachers too. Then I wondered, how could a local photographer from Latin America or Asia take one of these workshops? They could never afford it. So I thought, let’s just put one on ourselves. I teach photography and history at a small high school where I lead a lot of international trips, so the organization wasn’t that hard.

What has been really amazing is that it wasn’t hard to find people to teach for free. I think instructors are drawn to the notion of doing a workshop for people who are passionate and who they normally wouldn’t reach. The students aren’t all young — last year they ranged from 16 to 65 — and they’re not all trying to be professional photographers, but they’re passionate.

Another of our original ideas was to bring a lot of instructors together for one workshop. Most workshops are several thousand dollars for just one instructor. By having a dozen or so, we can offer a range of classes, lower the cost, and, best of all, create a mini-community that is almost like a festival on top of the workshop.

By bringing together many instructors, we create a community — almost like a festival on top of the workshop.

It was really important to me to create a community where everybody is really accessible. I remember reading a blog by a student last year. She wrote, “I walked into the opening party, and I went, oh my word, there’s Andrea Bruce, there’s Stanley Green, there’s Ron Haviv, and they’re all sitting there just drinking a beer and talking like human beings.” There’s a lot of God factor in photojournalism, and we want to take that away. We want to remind students that photographers are just people.

One thing I’d tell students is, don’t come to the workshop with preconceived notions. And don’t be scared to talk to the instructors. They don’t want to give autographs; they don’t want to be on a pedestal. We start the workshop off with an opening party where everyone’s just hanging out. That always blow student’s mind. If they can get past being star struck, they have the opportunity to build relationships that will last long after the workshop.

This year is going to be even more intimate because we capped the number of students at 100. But slots are still assigned on a first come, first served basis. I want it to be open rather than something you have to apply to. I thought, if a photographer is at a level where they’re going to Eddie Adams or they’re getting chosen for World Press Master Class, then they’re already pretty advanced. There’s this intermediate ground where you’re a beginner or you’re intermediate, you’re coming along, maybe you’re a hobbyist. And there’s nothing out there for that level of photographer that’s affordable.

©Monte Swann

From Monte Swann's photo project on firefighters from Fenix Ave. in Mexico City. ©Monte Swann, Courtesy FPW

MJ: So what kind of schedule can a new student expect at the Foundry?

EB: You’re taking one intensive class that is six days long. There are several specific classes students can choose from, and the end goal is to show your work to everybody at the final Saturday night show. That might be an individual story or it might be a collaborative effort, like Stanley Green’s class last year that created an amazing group project called Blood on the Floor.

We tell all the students to research stories before they arrive. Bring pictures if they’ll help; get access if you need it. It’s really hard to show up cold-turkey without any story ideas. Some people do anyway, and we try to help them. But the most successful ones either arrive a couple days early, or they get online and do a lot of research to develop a well-honed idea.

I don’t know how they did this, but two women got access to the women’s prison in Mexico City last year. I could not fly from Mexico to the United States and say, I want to go to the prison, give me access. And we had other people riding around with the ambulance drivers.

We like students to think of the workshop as an international photo assignment. A lot of people have this dream of being an international photojournalist. So we say, okay, here’s your shot. Come in, internationally, and do a story. Some students say, well, if I was professional, I’d have a $5,000 budget, and I’d stay in a five-star hotel. We have photojournalists like Andrea Bruce, a staffer for the Washington Post, and  Mike Chavez for the L.A. Times, and they just stand up there on the panel and laugh. They tell the students, “I’m lost half the time. I don’t know what the heck’s going on. People won’t talk.”

Or the students will say, “You’re Ron Haviv, people never say no to you. Ron says, “Are you kidding me? People say no to me all the time.” It’s so important for aspiring photojournalists to see the reality versus their ideas of glamor. You know, we’ve ruined a few photographers. People have said afterward, I don’t want to do this.

It’s important for aspiring photojournalists to see the reality of working internationally.

But if you’re serious about becoming an international photographer, the Foundry can be like a halfway house. We’re here to help you with the first steps. Student who haven’t traveled, or they’re scared of travel, or they’re scared of shooting internationally — this can bring them to the next level.

As an example, last year some of the students struggled with story ideas. They came in wanting to shoot things like the president of Mexico. You can’t just show up one day and get that kind of access. So we said, let’s ask around. We met a man from Syria who was an orthodox monk stationed at a Catholic monastery in Mexico, because I think they’re running out of monks. He wasn’t even Catholic; he was Eastern Orthodox. It’s a great story. And he let four students stay at the monastery and document their lives. They ended up producing a great piece from that.

©Kirsten Luce, Courtesy FPW

Kristen Luce profiled a clown workshop in Xochimilco, south of Mexico City. ©Kirsten Luce, Courtesy FPW

MJ: Why was it important for you to bring in a significant number of local photography students?

EB: This year we’ve got a lot of South Asian photographers coming, and last year we had quite a few Latin American photographers come — that’s what we want. We want them to get access to inspiration, to communities, to slideshows, to classes they normally wouldn’t get. And we also want non-local photographers to learn from the local ones. We tell all students, bring business cards, share them around. I know the connections students made at last year’s workshop haven’t stayed online. People have made friends. People have started dating. There’s kind of a huge web of people now.

We also wanted to help photographers understand what it’s like to work in an area, South Asia this year. We have panels with different photographers and points of view. So if someone is thinking about becoming a stringer there, they can find out what it’s like to work there, what challenges they might face.

We’ll also have one night where we show only work by South Asian photographers, where we try to get them some exposure that they wouldn’t normally get. We had a lot of good things come out of that last year. One amazing photographer ended up getting work with some major agencies, because of meeting people, networking, and showing his work at the workshop.

Then we had a couple young Turkish photographers in their early to mid 20s. They’re amazingly talented, so I won’t say the Foundry made all the difference, but since then, one is shooting for the Wall Street Journal, others are freelancing for the New York Times. One is in Afghanistan right now. They’ve met a lot of people and they’re jump starting their careers.

Multimedia — it seems to be on everyone’s mind. Should you be doing it? Just audio, or video too? Can you make money from it? Does it detract or add to the still photograph? Former BBC radio producer Benjamin Chesterton and photojournalist David White formed the multimedia production team duckrabbit with the intention of answering some of these questions, as well as using multimedia to prompt social change. Together they create multimedia pieces, provide insights on their blog, and help photographers through multimedia training sessions (sign up now for the next one, in Bristol, UK, July 10 to 12). Once a month (or more when they have time), Ben and David will highlight and explain a multimedia piece on RESOLVE that breaks a “rule,” uses a new technique, or creatively solves a common problem. As an introduction, they wanted to talk about a piece created together, Innocence, that proves how powerful a multimedia piece can be, even with only 10 photos.

David White: Innocence, duckrabbit’s feature about child soldiers in Sri Lanka, just sort of emerged organically. I shot the photographs a few years ago now, whilst there was still a ceasefire. It was a very difficult and at times dangerous job, but one that I desperately hoped might make a tiny difference.

Recently I was sitting up very early in the morning when I saw a report on the news about the escalation of the war in Sri Lanka. I just started to write about how that made me feel. For once I was not worried about how other people would interpret and dissect my thoughts — I just needed to get my feelings out.

I posted my thoughts on the duckrabbit blog, and from there Benjamin picked up the baton, unbeknown to me.

Benjamin Chesterton: David is someone whose photographs have always moved me. His great big generous heart comes across in all his work and never more so than in the beautiful pictures he took in Sri Lanka. I’ve long wanted to turn them into a piece of multimedia, but what can you do with just 10 photos?

I got up one morning to find that David had posted about that experience on the duckrabbit blog. He captured the artist’s predicament in a really simple and powerful way. The desire to make a difference because some cause has embedded itself so deep into you. The feeling that if you don’t do something, it will suffocate you from the inside out.

Pretty much all I did was take his words, grab some screenshots off news sites on the web, use a song that never fails to move me, and mix it all up with his original photo’s. I didn’t tell David I was doing this. Just banged out a rough copy in a day, sent him the link and held my breath.

David: I have scanned, printed, and reproduced those Sri Lanka photos many times. I like them, I think they’re strong, but they’re not new. The words were a few lines I hammered out when I should have been sleeping. Yet, when I saw the finished piece, I cried, as did my wife, Jane.

Since then, that has been the many people’s reaction.

It still amazes me that such simple content can be reworked into something so strong. I could never imagine those stills in a magazine story having the same effect. Imagine going back to a set of pictures you have taken a while ago, that you know intimately, and having them move you to tears. That intrigues and excites me. That’s why I think multimedia offers amazing opportunities for photographers, to get their work out to new audiences, and to use it to reveal the world in new light.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: If you are working in multimedia, how do you approach that creative process differently? Have you had similar experiences where adding audio for a slideshow has dramatically changed the impact of your images?

  • Almost four decades after John Filo took his Pulitzer-Prize-winning photo of a student shot at Kent State University during an anti-war protest, the photographer was reunited with the then-14-year-old girl, Mary Vecchio, who appears in the image with her arm outstretched, caught in a terrified scream. The Akron Beacon Journal has a nice piece on the reunion, which was the first time the two met in person.
  • The Obama administration and its White House photo team led by Pete Souza proved its distinctly updated understanding of image use recently by launching a White House Flickr photostream in addition to its regular slideshows. Last week, Official White House Photographer Pete Souza did an interview with CBS sharing his insider view of Obama presidency.
  • The multimedia dream team at MediaStorm announced this week that it will donate its services for a one-time, TUITION-FREE Advanced Multimedia Reporting Workshop, in Brooklyn, NY from June 20-26, 2009. Expect a very competitive application process as there are only 8 spots available. Application deadline is next Friday May 15. Check out more details on their blog.
  • picked the 10 most photographed cities in the world. The results are based on the number of photographs associated with each city on Flickr. Being San Franciscans as we are, we’re happy that the City by the Bay made it to number 4. Can you guess the top three?


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