My photography journey has allowed me to cross paths with some pretty amazing people. What’s unique about the newborn photography world, is that the hugely popular industry leaders, the ones you’ve admired and looked up to for years, are the same ones who will invite you into their studios, educate, mentor and inspire you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Mentoring with Erin Tole was exactly that for me. She’s someone who I’ve admired for a long time and whose work I’m most drawn to. There are some very talented and popular photographers who simple do amazing, consistent, flawless work, but then there’s Erin. She produces beautiful images too, but takes her work even further by constantly pushing herself creatively and I’m convinced that she’s one of the few true artists in our industry. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for my 1:1 mentoring session at her brand new studio! And while the actual photography portion of the workshop was everything I expected and more, I felt like I left Portland with something even more valuable: a deep appreciation for who Erin is as a photographer, a boss, a business owner, a mom, an educator, and a friend. I’m so thankful I had this opportunity to meet such a wonderful person who also happens to be a phenomenal photographer.
Now enough of all the introspective, philosophical stuff…
At one point during the day, Erin’s assistant asked me, “So how many workshops HAVE you been to?” Before I could answer, Erin responded for me, “All of them!!” And while this is
a little bit true (yes, I’m sort of a workshop junkie), after attending Erin Tole’s 1:1 workshop in Portland last month, I feel like I’ve finally graduated from being a workshop participant. It’s not that I feel like I have nothing left to learn, it’s more that I now have all the tools, building blocks, and confidence I need to finally figure things out myself instead of needing others for inspiration, thanks to all the mentoring I’ve done over the past few years. Also, attending Erin Tole’s 1:1 was the final item (and grand finale) on my workshop wish list! The very first workshop I attended was Kelley Ryden & Tracy Raver’s Newborn Dreamland Workshop which you can read about HERE and while it was amazing to see those two work, I felt a little overwhelmed. For my second workshop, I decided to step it up to a two day workshop at Rachel Vanoven’s studio in Indy (read about my experience HERE). Learning from Rachel was a completely difference experience. She’s warm and friendly and you can tell she really cares about people. This made for such a rich learning environment. So, I couldn’t pass up the Fly on the Wall Workshop with Rachel and Erin (who I had been dying to see work) when they came to my home state in Dallas (HERE). Getting to see Rachel again and meeting Erin Tole was such a blast and left me feeling like I had to go to Portland to mentor with Erin. I knew there was so much more to learn from her. And I was right.
I arrived at the studio at 9:30AM and the first two models were already there filling their bellies with milk. We were lucky to have two cousins model for us so I was able to see some “twin” posing. Erin started with one baby while waiting for the other baby to fall asleep. Both babies were pretty wiggly and fighting sleep so I was able to see how Erin works with fussy, uncooperative babies as well, which we all know is part of being a newborn photographer.
One of the things Erin is well known for is how she expertly wraps babies, specifically for this pose. Having attended the Fly on the Wall Workshop six or so months prior, I felt a little ahead of the curve since I had already seen her wrap a baby this way before. However, after having some time to practice this pose on my own in the meantime, it still wasn’t perfect so seeing this again was extremely helpful for me.
Another thing I wanted to master was nailing the unique angles Erin shoots at. This was something I wasn’t able to work on or visualize at the Fly on the Wall Workshop, but got plenty of practice during our 1:1 while shooting both on the beanbag and in props.
Macros! The bane of my existence. Erin was able to give me a bunch of helpful hints on getting some good, dynamic maco shots of the lips, eyelashes, ears, fingers and toes.
Posing babies in props was another thing I wanted to work one and over the course of the day, I watched Erin pose babies in 5 different kinds of props!
After the cousins left, we took a break and had lunch. Then the second model arrived. She was super sweet and sleepy!
One of the most eye opening things for me watching Erin achieve so much variety within each setup, leading to a very diverse gallery.
After the second model, Erin took me though her editing process from culling to Photoshop. Again, having attended the Fly on the Wall Workshop, watching the editing was so much more helpful because I had already been practicing at home. I felt like I was taking a refresher course and I was able to ask more pointed questions because I had already made the transition to editing with ACR and using a Wacom Tablet.
Thank you so much to Erin Tole for such an amazing experience! I enjoyed every second!
**Note: all posing & styling was by Erin Tole, all images were shot & edit by Erin Beckwith