What makes good photography? Why are one photographer’s images more compelling than those of another? How can I, as one of many professional Lake Tahoe wedding photographers, make photos that matter? These are the questions that I ask before, during, and after every wedding I have photograph. Attending the Foundation Workshop in Texas this February was an investment in finding some answers.
The Foundation Workshop is known as “the original and toughest photojournalism workshop for wedding photographers.” Certainly, this workshop makes an assessment of who you are as a photographer. As it provides an education about what makes strong images, if offers students an opportunity to practice real photojournalism. Far away from the world of weddings, students carry out individual assignments. In my case, I was to report to “Brazos Barber & Beauty Shop.” My assignment? Discover the stories within the walls. Capture the genuine, authentic interactions between the patrons of this small-town business. To begin with, I ought to at least learn the difference between a perm and a body wave.
To summarize, so much happens on a wedding day. From the beginning until the end, faces change, outfits change, light sources change, and scenes change. In the small Texan town of Granbury, I posted up for two whole days in the same quiet little building. Petite, antique ladies clutching wrinkled handbag. And suspendered grandpas made their rounds. Slowly the heart of a local community revealed itself to me, one character at a time. This was the antithesis of a hectic wedding day. Meanwhile, my opportunities to capture the meaningful moments seemed few and far between.
The Strategy of Professional Lake Tahoe Wedding Photographers
Get in position. Compose. Move. Re-compose. Wait. Wait some more. Keep waiting. If nothing else, this was surely an exercise in patience and readiness.
Each evening at the hotel in Glen Rose, our team stayed up until the early hours of the morning. We reviewed, discussed, and critiqued photos from everyone’s shoot that day. Although brutally honest critiques are often hard to hear, it is certainly where some of the valuable growth occurs. Light. Composition. Moment. These criteria became the operational rubric with which to measure the images we made. Ultimately, one might argue that this trio forms the very ‘foundation’ of strong imagery. And you need to add as Dave Getzschman would say, “a little something special”.
There is a path to creating better photographs. There is a tangible way to make images that speak not only to the subjects themselves, but to complete strangers as well. The Foundation Workshop may not be the only way. But if a solid week of tutelage under the watchful eyes of some of the best wedding photojournalists in the world is a good start. If you are a photographer considering this workshop, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I would be happy to share more details about the experience.
At the core of the Foundation Workshop experience is a truly supportive, honest, and encouraging gathering of photographers. The students are there to learn. The staff are there to do whatever they can to help that process. Many thanks to Tyler Wirken, Erwin Darmali, Kirsten Lewis, Janine McClintock, all of our team members, and of course Huy Nguyen. If I could do it all over again with you guys, I most certainly would!
Below are two images from my assignment at the barber shop.
Photo below by Ed Atrero.