I think it’s pretty safe to say that this was my favorite workshop I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to some good ones)!
Three years ago, I met Kelley Ryden & Tracy Raver when I attended their one day Newborn Dreamland Workshop (you can read about my experience HERE) when they came to Dallas. While I ended up with some pretty fantastic images, I left feeling very inspired but without a lot of the tools needed to go make my own art. It felt like I was watching a beautiful dance or award-winning film. The next workshop I attended was a two day workshop with Rachel Vanoven in her studio in Indianapolis (you can read about my experience HERE). Her workshop was amazing and I noticed a huge change in the images I was creating once I got home. I was also amazed how involved she is in her online mentoring groups to help you to take what you learned and apply those skills to your own art.
Mentoring with Erin Tole has been on my wish list for a while so when it was announced that Erin & Rachel were doing this Fly on the Wall workshop together in Fort Worth, I just had to be there (and double bonus to hang with Rachel again)! However, as I was driving home from Fort Worth last night after the Fly On The Wall workshop with Rachel & Erin, I felt something I never felt before after a workshop: gratitude. Was I inspired by the images they were creating? Definitely. Did I learn a TON about posing, wrapping, editing, and running a business? Of course! But most of all, I was inspired how they make each person at the workshop feel like a friend. They care about people. And I believe that’s what makes them the best teachers.
Originally, I was a little bummed out that it was only an observation workshop but now that it’s all said and done, I think that when you have a camera in your hands, waiting in line to take your shot of the baby, you miss out on so much that goes on. The Fly On The Wall workshop forces you to be an observer and teaches you to see more than you could possibly see with your camera in your face.
One thing that I was really excited about for this workshop was watching Rachel & Erin shoot with studio light. This is something I’ve been working up the courage to do in my studio and I now have the confidence to jump right in after watching them both seamlessly go through their sessions as easily as (if not easier than) with natural light.
Rachel photographed her model first and we got to see her go through her entire posing flow with the same baby from start to finish including sibling and parent shots. I’m always amazed with how easily she moves from pose to pose and creates such variety in her galleries.
After lunch, we watched as Erin expertly wrapped babies and moved from pose to pose in a complete different order. This was another thing that made this workshop so unique. Often times when attending a workshop, it’s easy to walk away with the feeling that you finally figured out the ONE right way to do things, when in reality, there’s a million. More than anything, you leave with some really really helpful tips to incorporate into YOUR posing flow and YOUR style instead of trying to create images exactly like Erin or exactly like Rachel.
After Erin finished photographing her model, she took us through her editing workflow in ACR and Photoshop using her beautiful presets and actions. I’ve always been drawn to Erin’s images because of her unique posing and dreamy yet clean editing so I found this to be extremely helpful.
Another bonus part of the workshop was watching Rachel in action shooting a family. I feel like the family eworkshop is extremely helpful with the videos, but what you don’t see is how much the families really love Rachel almost immediately. She makes them feel so comfortable but also confident.
And I wasn’t ready for it to be over…Thank you again, Erin & Rachel! I think you two are the greatest.