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.