Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review: Love Affair Workshop

Please note that this review is from the February 2008 edition of the Love Affair Workshop, which was the second week of the very first workshop. As with everything, workshops change over time, so my review is only from my previous experience.

Website: LoveAffairWorkshop.com

Presenters: Millie Holloman, Davina Fear, Lauren Clark, Kelly Moore

Dates: February 25 - March 1, 2008

Location: Bald Head Island, NC

Price: $2750 (as of 4/6/10)

Included: Transportation to & from island, shared room (private available for additional cost), breakfast, lunch, & dinner each day, workshop classes, models & directed shooting opportunities, critique sessions, and one-on-one mentoring time.

Bonuses: Availability of all marketing and promotional materials from presenters, a take-home book with images and camera settings, fuzzy robes, a journal, finale night of girlie indulgences.

What I Expected: An all inclusive retreat to help me relax while exploring different angles on my photography business.

Expectation Met? Yes.

Summary: The location was absolutely gorgeous and we had pretty much free reign of the island with our own golf carts for exploring due to the fact that it was February on an island typically reserved for summer getaways. Waking up in the morning to the sand and ocean on your porch is a pretty awesome way to wake up. All of the presenters had different things to offer, and their abilities complimented each other very well. Millie's strength was in running a business efficiently and organizing a team of people. Davina's strength was in creating a life balance between work, family, and personal time. Lauren's strength was in using in-camera settings and photoshop retouching techniques. Kelly's strength was in creative posing and lighting.

The schedule for each day was loose enough to allow plenty of socialization among attendees, yet with just enough structure so that everyone was able to participate regularly in some kind of structured activity. Of course, no one was forced to attend or participate, and with just around 40 attendees, you rarely felt someone's absence unless you'd developed a close friendship with them. There were about 6-12 people in each house, depending on the size of the house, and after a night or two, certain houses became known for staying up late and "partying" well into the night. For the most part, the houses had enough separation between the social areas and the bedrooms for this not to cause many problems.

There seemed to be some difficulties with the golf carts and some of the management on the island that was communicated a few times, which seemed to make things a little difficult on the presenters. I imagine this is why the workshop is now held in hotels which are a bit more suited for conferences and workshops of this type.

I'm pretty sure there were sponsored giveaways throughout the workshop, in addition to the workshop bonuses, however I don't recall winning anything personally, so I'm not sure I could tell you what they were.

The one-on-one was the most valuable, and since my one-on-one was with Millie Holloman, she had done her research on me and what I was about before I met with her. I had heard from other attendees that not all presenters had looked into their one-on-one person before meeting. I honestly didn't know much about Millie's strengths before I attended the workshop, but after a few days of learning more about her, it was clear that she was able to answer quite a few organizational and business management questions for me. I think that I was assigned a mentor, rather than being able to choose one. If I had ended up with someone else, it might not have been a good fit, so I'm glad I was able to get what I was looking for during my one-on-one.

Outside of the scheduled workshop activities, shooting times, and planned meals, the presenters were scarce. Perhaps they were planning for the next day or just getting some alone time for themselves to take care of business, but it would have been nice for just a few more unstructured encounters. I don't think this in any way took away from everything they offered, but rather it would have been a nice added bonus.

This is not a workshop for men, and men need to stop whining about that. Women have unique challenges in their lives and feel more comfortable expressing them when there isn't a Y chromosome in the room. While it may be discriminatory to host an all female workshop, there is also something truly unique about it that allows women to be more open to who they naturally are. There were quite a few mentions of "Faith" and "Prayer" throughout the workshop, however it wasn't overly Christian in nature and it seemed to allow room for multiple faiths and forms of meditation.

Recommend? Yes. While the price may be higher than most, the all inclusive experience was well worth it, as well as the quality of instruction and quality of other attendees at the workshop. Each workshop has a different audience and flavor, but I felt like this was a good fit for the place I was in my business at the time. Beginning photographers may find it to be a little too fast moving and not enough hands on, while more experienced photographers may find it to be a little redundant and pedantic, but you'll get that with just about any workshop that doesn't qualify its audience to be in a certain part of their business first. However, what it does succeed in, is providing a little something for everyone no matter what stage of your business you're in, and giving you a rich experience that you can act on when you return. I liked it so much, I wouldn't mind going again.

Note: Feel free to add your own comments about the workshop!!

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.

10 comments:

  1. Um, you had me at Bald Head Island. Gah! I've seen it but never been on the island. I've always been curious how the workshop is!!!

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  2. Thanks for the review, Anne! Did everyone break up into different classes? Did you get to choose what classes you went to when? Curious if there were different "tracks" for people basically. As you said, everyone is at a different point, and I've always been curious about this workshop as well. Just looking at where it fits in my future plans!

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  3. Hi Christine!

    I'll answer for Anne since things are a little different regarding classes now. She can of course chime in too. We did not do tracks for the first, second or even third workshop (at least I don't think we did for the 3rd). However, for the last workshop we did and it worked VERY well so we'll be doing that again in Dallas, TX. We actually have some people who have been before attending again! FUN!

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  4. Also, I want to say thanks to Anne for the review!

    I think you'll find we are also able to spend a lot more time with our attendees now as we are perfecting the process. The first few workshops required us to do more tweaking behind the scenes. We really do love socializing with all of the women!

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  5. At the time I took the workshop, everyone was always together in each "class" - I believe that included all of the presenters too for the most part. There weren't different "tracks" at the time, but all scheduled events were optional. Perhaps one of the presenters will see this and provide clarification about the current structure. During the shooting opportunities, there were different models, which split the group up for shooting & directing, but people weren't assigned to one particular model and were encouraged to spend a little time with each model if possible.

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  6. I went to the most recent one in Atlanta. There are no set "tracks" but there are certain times that classes are cafeteria style - there are 2 or 3 classes going on at the same time that you can choose among. Sometimes they were "leveled" - beginning classes on shooting in manual vs. advanced lighting techniques, etc. Sometimes they were just different topics (Millie's office and business organization class was at the same time as Davina's lovemark class, etc.).

    I really enjoyed it and got a lot from it. I was in the midst of my 2nd year of business and really appreciated classes about marketing, becoming a lovemark, etc. I definitely left inspired to get a lot done for my business.

    One thing that was missing when I went was a direct class on pricing strategies. It was brought up a lot in question & answer times, but never really taken on in a focused manner. At one point, one of the instructors snipped at one of the classes I was in when someone asked a pricing question saying she felt it had already been addressed. It really hadn't though. I came home and found (via one of my Love Affair classmates) more useful and direct pricing instruction online - something I REALLY needed as a newbie to the industry. I also spent a lot less money buying that guide than I did going to Love Affair. I don't know what their class schedule is for the new workshop in Dallas, but I would buy my spot expecting NOT to hear pricing strategy and be pleasantly surprised if I did.

    There was 1 thing that was really mystifying to me though - I had a ton of thoughts to share with the presenters after the workshop (things I would have appreciated if they were a little different, things I wanted to give kudos for), and kept waiting for the traditional "exit survey" that you normally get at most workshops. It never came. For a workshop as expensive as it is (granted, you do feel VERY pampered in the process), I would have liked the formal opportunity to give my insight (and thanks!). By the time I gave up waiting for one to be e-mailed after the workshop, my thoughts and comments just seemed moot and I never got around to e-mailing one of the presenters directly.

    All of this being said, I still refer to my Love Affair notes 8 months after the fact, still talk to some of my classmates, and am still working on implementing everything I learned in my business. It really is a treat to meet these women and share time with them and the other attendees!

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  7. Thanks for the response! I had heard of a workshop that did that, and I wasn't sure if it was Love Affair or a different one. Probably was a different one. I like the bonding aspect of keeping everyone together, and no matter how much you know, there is always something new to learn too! Sometimes you just need to be in the right place mentally for something to really sink in!

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  8. Definitely read Millie's response above! Her post needed to be approved, so it didn't appear until after Christine & I had written our responses!

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  9. I have been dreaming about this workshop since the first one! I noticed the amount of attendees has went up to 60, do you think that will affect the workshop? I would love to attend, thanks for the review!

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  10. I think it depends on how it affects the one-on-one opportunities. It seems like they have separate classes happening simultaneously, which prevents a room from being too overcrowded, but I must admit that when all-inclusive workshops get too large, the feeling is less personal or intimate.

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