A few weeks ago I was in the fortunate position to attend Brett Florens’ workshop. As I am sure Brett needs no introduction, I thought of giving you a review of the workshop and what it meant to me.

Name of the course or workshop I attended and who runs it:
Three day wedding workshop with Brett Florens

What’s the official blurb on what the course offers?

The “Nikon Behind the Lens Wedding Workshop” is a fully intensive 3 day workshop covering everything from marketing and shooting the wedding, to post production. It is an interactive course with me, Brett Florens, which will include live shoots using models at a simulated wedding. I will give you close personal attention regarding your portfolio and marketing material.

Why did it initially appeal to me?
I have been a fan on Brett Florens ever since I became a wedding photographer in 2008. After hearing him speak a couple of times and listening to interviews on Nik Radio I was even more impressed by his great personality and his business ethic. I knew I would learn a lot from him but there was always some obstacle that prevented me from doing this course. This year I decided to put all excuses aside and just do it.

How much did the course cost?
R5 700

Where was it held?
Oakfield Farm, Johannesburg

When was it held?
23th-25th May 2012

What level of experience is the course aimed at?
The course was designed to cater for photographers of all levels of experience, we had people who hadn’t bought equipment yet, to fully fledged, accomplished and successful wedding photographers. Everyone I spoke with articulated that they had come away having learned something new and valuable.

How would I describe it?
Superb. Day one begun in the classroom. After a short opening introduction, Brett outlined the objectives of the workshop which were:
1. To gain technical knowledge
2. Marketing skills
3. Understanding the industry and to
4. Gain information for a sustainable business.

Day 1 was mostly spent gaining technical knowledge which included the discussion of equipment, lighting (both natural and off camera flash), creating the image (exposure, composition and timing) and of course the very important and often mismanaged aspect of marketing. We also gained valuable information on how to interact and meet with clients and managing their expectations. After lunch we took our cameras out and it was time for a practical engagement shoot. We had the fabulous Nadia and Xavier as our models. Brett shared some valuable and practical tips on posing, composition and lighting. It became clear as to how you could use basic concepts to turn ordinary into extraordinary. He spent a lot of time explaining how to set the scene for your shoot, the correct way of posing both the man and woman and what to consider before you press down on the shutter. The results of getting the right angle and making sure the light comes from the right direction was an eye opener. I learned so much from this alone.

Being a natural light photographer I was hesitant to embrace off camera flash. But I soon realized just how much benefit one can get from having this skill in your arsenal especially when natural light conditions are less than perfect. I was very inspired by the lessons learned in this situation.

Day 2
Brett took us through every moment of shooting the wedding, from start to finish. He left no stone unturned – as you will see from the photos, he even took on the role of father of the bride! He focused a lot on lighting and what would be the best light to use for any given situation.

Though I have shot more than 75 weddings myself, I was very delighted to learn that there are many more skills I could apply to improve not only my technical ability but also the way I approach and prepare for the day. I came away with a sense of being a director of a movie, there are certain ways to handle each situation to make sure you get the best shot. The practical session was inspiring, we discussed the key elements to think about the whole time while shooting the wedding. Angle and light is everything – Brett reminded us to not be lazy but be willing to get “down and dirty” to get the best shot.

An aspect that I found very valuable as well was how to shoot with the album in mind. The digital age has created the scenario where we just shoot for the sake of shooting, because we can, which leaves you with thousands of images after every wedding which really slows down your post production. Brett taught us how to shoot sparingly by first imagining where you will use a particular image in the album. I imagine that “shooting with the album in mind” is going to make a world of difference to my workflow.

Day 3 was spent discussing  the all-important aspects of post production and managing your workflow. This included editing with practical demonstrations, your output products like albums, storybooks, slideshows and how to choose which images to include in the album. The importance of nurturing a relationship with a pro lab who handles all your printing was emphasized and also how to diversify your post delivery sales by offering various products to your clients.

Brett Florens workshops

We ended the course by Brett critiquing images from attendees that were shot during the previous two days (voluntarily). They were projected onto a screen so that we could all learn from each others images. Brett’s critique was well balanced and constructive. He didn’t just touch on what could be improved in each image but also how it could be improved.

What were the opinions of some of the other photographers on the course?
I honestly got the impression that everyone there were very happy with the information gained. I have been to workshops before where the presenters didn’t divulge all their secrets or didn’t go to the trouble of actually telling the group how to achieve a specific result. This would often lead to attendees whispering behind their hands and becoming frustrated as the day progresses. This didn’t happen with Brett at all. I observed that everyone was hooked by his ability to convey information.

Would I recommend the course to other photographers?
Yes! I would thoroughly recommend the course. Brett has a wonderful manner and while confident and self assured as he should be, he is humble and takes time to tailor the content to the individual mix of the class. There was also a lot of laughter. The manner in which Brett teaches is what distinguish his workshops from all the others out there. Some photographers are good at their trade but they are not good teachers. Brett is both, an excellent teacher and a technical connoisseur.

Was there anything extra I would have liked the course to cover?
The course was jam packed. To cover more, it would have had to be longer! If it could have been, I would have loved to have watched Brett shoot more, as I learned a lot that way.

How will it change my photography and business for the future?
It has changed my perspective and focus (pun intended).  I became much more aware of light and how it interacted with my subject. It has had a significant effect on the quality of my images because I know better where to be in relation to it to get more special, more striking images.

The business content Brett covered was diverse. I came away more confident in my ability to run a better business, with tangible changes I need to make in the way I manage my client information and how I price my services. I need to take a long hard look at my business and ask myself what exactly it is that I want from it. I am very guilty of not setting goals. I am hoping that I will be more focused and goal-driven going forward. He made me realise that I have to get off the couch and do the work.

I also met an incredible group of photographers in the other participants and I came away from the course with good friends, and in this industry that will inevitably have a huge influence on your photography and business.

To learn more about Brett Florens’ workshops, please follow this link.

And here are some of the images I took at the workshop:

Brett Florens wedding photographer

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