Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: Making Things Happen Workshop

I took the Making Things Happen workshop in Las Vegas under a partial scholarship.


Presenters: Lara Casey, Jeff Holt

Date: March 7th, 2010

Location: The Signature at MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV

Price: $700 (I had a partial scholarship and did not pay this price)

Included: 6 hours with Lara and Jeff, snacks and water, MTH branded moleskin.

Bonuses: Special area at the Lasers and Airhorns party later that evening (more on this in a bit).

What I Expected: Learn how to bring my business to the next level, one-on-one review with Lara and/or Jeff to see what I should be doing to accomplish this.

Expectation Met? No.

Summary: The first thing that happened was they changed the times from 12PM - 6PM to 10AM - 4PM about a month or so before without any emails or notices going out. I was trying to come in on an early flight Sunday that would have had me landing at 10AM, great for a 12PM class... not so great when they changed the time. Luckily I happened to come across the change on the website and booked accordingly.

On the flight to Vegas Saturday afternoon, my husband asked if I had yet to get any information for the class the following day. I used the in-flight wifi (woo!) to check all of my emails and I still had nothing. I eventually checked my paypal and WPPI spam only email (HIGHLY recommend this for WPPI peeps by the way) and there was an email from earlier in the week stating that info would be sent out on Friday for where to report on Sunday but no follow up email. Keep in mind I used my main email for all correspondence and contacts with MTH - so the fact they used my rarely checked email I never use save for paypal was troubling.

We get to our room (The Signature is awesome!) and wander about Vegas for a bit, with me checking my email off and on - still nothing on ANY accounts. Finally at about midnight I get really frustrated and check to see if anyone’s heard anything on Twitter. They sent the room information via Twitter instead of emailing it.

The next day I got up bright and early (for me, hey I’m a photographer and a night owl, 10AM is my normal wake up time!) and headed up to the room for the workshop. When I got there (right on time) it was a bit chaotic. Lara wasn’t anywhere to be seen and random people were running all over. There were some people sitting in the living room area of the suite looking kind of intimidated so I assumed that’s where I was to go. If I had to guess I would say it took about a half hour for everyone to get their act together, for the random people milling about to leave and for things to start. It may have been longer. There were 4 people (I think?) that didn’t show up and some time was spent trying to find them/figure out what was going on.

At the beginning we had to go around the room and tell who we were, what we did and how we got to this point. Straightaway, there was crying. LOTS of crying. Lara mentioned that there is a lot of crying at MTH. I told my story. That part of the workshop ended with Lara’s story on how she got to where she is, inspiring others and also running Southern Weddings.

Everyone was handed a notebook with “Making Things Happen” stamped on the outside cover. Lara then began having us write random things like our biggest fears, highest dreams, ideal day, etc. and then we’d go around the room and share what we thought. It was basically an inspirational type thing workshop for this portion of the day. Lots of writing, visualizations and "downloading" onto paper what is going on in your head. This is what made up the majority of the workshop time.

I quickly found out that a lot of the people in my class were very religious when we would share things that we had written and religion became a major focus of the workshop. I wondered how an Athiest, Jewish or Muslim person would feel about this part.

While most of the day was spent on the inspirational aspect of things, there was a small portion of the day that was spent on business advice. General tips on being aware of social media and how to use it effectively, some basic time management tips and how to enhance your brand. I wished that this would have been covered in more detail.

One part of this that I did take a bit away from was learning how to break down your to-do list into manageable bits. While there are some things with my job that I’m great at, there are always the things that take more time and I put off because they are such a big task. I realized with this workshop that breaking it down into chunks is better than not doing it at all.

At the end of the day we were rushed out of the room as they all had to get ready for their party that evening, which was a topic that sent many exercises off on a tangent through the entire workshop. I was the only one there who had not purchased tickets for Airhorns & Lasers. They kept referring to it all day but wouldn’t give any specifics - including the location. You know how you feel when people have inside jokes and you’re with the 3 people that get it and you are the only one that doesn’t? It felt like that, especially since I was the only one without tickets for the evening. At the end though, Lara offered to give me a ticket for myself and my husband and got my email and said that she’d email me all of the information I needed to go.

She never did.

To lay it out honestly, I feel I have to include this mortifying tidbit because it influenced my thoughts about the entire experience - and Lara. While I’m sure that she didn’t do it on purpose it still hurt.

When I got back and had discussions with other MTH attendees, they all raved about how wonderful Lara was to them. They mentioned how they had a one-on-one session with both Lara and Jeff about their images/work etc, heard direct advice how to improve, how she keeps in contact and makes check-up calls to them to make sure they’re keeping on track. Unfortunately, none of this happened for me. I haven't received any follow up emails or follow up calls. The only thing I’ve received or heard from MTH since the workshop was a shipment with a Paloma’s Nest square with Making Things Happen on it and a Southern Weddings magazine from Lara.

Recommend? I believe they are doing another tour, although I am not certain. I would not recommend it, based on the experience that I had.

Note: I want to reiterate that this is my views on MY experience and I realize some other attendees had positive experiences with Making Things Happen.

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: Lowepro Pro Roller X100

I've been asked a LOT about my rolling camera bag preference lately so I thought it would be a great thing to review for PLC. Please note that this item was not given to Photo Lovecat for review.

Item: Lowepro Pro Roller x100

Product Website: Lowepro

Price: $359.99 (I paid $200 @ WPPI)

What I Bought Bag For/What I Expected: I bought this bag when I got frustrated with the umpteenth flight where my Think Tank International was forced to be plane side checked. Since I fly in/out of Ohio where we have virtually no hubs, I often fly in smaller commuter jets which means that the overhead bins are tiny and do not fit the Think Tank, no matter what. I have no choice BUT to check. Then there are also the times that I've had to plane side check because of the overhead bins being full due to excessive carry on items since the bag fees have taken over the airline industry. Often I plead my case when getting to the gate to be allowed on early (I highly suggest doing this!) but it doesn't always work or sometimes my connections are late. Then it's a hurry to stuff everything that was in the Think Tank into my purse and/or backpack and try and pad it as well. Why even bother using it when I have to take everything out anyways?? When I first got it I trusted that it would be safe plane side checking it, but after a few scary stories of people having gear stolen doing this, I've stopped doing it (and I had lens caps stolen when checking it once). I bought the X100 in hopes that it would fit on, no matter what and stop the plane side checking nightmare.

Expectation Met: YES! *happy dance*

+ The bag fits in most overhead bins.
+ The bag fits underneath the seat!!!!!!
+ The wheeled part of the bag unzips from the case making it two bags, one a backpack and the other a standard wheeled carry on roller. So if worse comes to worse, you can bring on the backpack and check the wheels (or if you overpack!).
+ Fits two camera bodies.
+ The handle turns into a tripod.
+ The bag locks.
+ Lots of little compartments.

- Wish it fit just a smidge more.
- Wish it could fit a laptop bigger than a 15"
- Wish you could lock it TO something like the Think Tank International.

Picture of the bag loaded up on my trip home from Punta Cana:

What's packed? (2) D700's, 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8, 10.5 fisheye, 50 1.4, 85 1.4, 60mm macro, SB-900, SB-800, (2) Pocket Wizards, SB-8A battery pack, (2) CF card wallets, (2) Sto-Fens, AA batteries, (5) Nikon Batteries, sync cords, Canon G11 charger, Canon G11, (3) bottles of Ron Barcelo Rum and (2) Mamajuana Rum Spice packs (HA!).

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Social Media - It Isn't Just a Fad

Want to know where your clients are at? Just look to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Especially Facebook. They are there - are you? Facebook gets more traffic daily then Google. YouTube is the #2 Search Engine for people in the world.

What are you doing about it? How are you creating experiences that will allow your clients to find you? To connect? To help them spread the word about how fabulous you are?

Everyone's decision is personal because you have to do what is right for you & your style. What is it that fits your brand? For me, I've been on Twitter since 2006. I've had my Twitter account and Facebook account linked for years. I give clients a web-ready sized DVD of watermarked images with permission to post them online anywhere they want. I ask them to please link to my site or at least add a note on the photos that I took them.

I sometimes create my sneak peeks on Facebook and tag them in the images so that all of their family & friends will see the photos. I prefer to leave this in their hands though because people are more likely to look at them and comment on them.

I want my images to be seen - if they are hidden away under lock and key, my next client might not ever discover me. If I set them free in web-ready format, they are passing them along and sharing them. Most importantly - they are talking about me & my work, and the experience of working with me.

It is what works for me & my brand. What works for you?

[Thanks to Liene of Think Splendid for the link to the YouTube video above!]

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review: Mike Colon Workshop

This workshop was Mike’s last 4 day intensive, which has now transformed into the “7” workshop which is 7 hours for $700.

Website:, Maui Workshop

Presenters: Mike Colon

Dates: December 7, 2008 - December 12, 2008

Location: Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Price: $2700 (I did not stay in the house and got $100 off with the b school)

Included: Workshop classes, 3 live shoots, portfolio critique and all meals.

Bonuses: Mike's price list, prizes for the daily winning photos of the shoots from the day before.

What I Expected: A class that would expand upon the ‘teaser’ Plus Class at WPPI.

Expectation Met? No.

Summary: I had mixed feelings about my Plus Class experience with Mike Colon in Las Vegas at WPPI. I love his work and his approach to things but the class wasn’t as smooth as I was hoping and I thought that perhaps it was due to the environment so I’d been kicking around going to a workshop of his. Hawaii has always been on my list of places to go and the dates were right so I pulled the trigger when I got a discount for being in the b school.

I found a great deal at the Hyatt so I decided to stay there instead of the house because my husband was coming along and the cost to have him at the house and not take the classes was crazy high. I LOVED the Hyatt in Maui. I highly highly recommend it. In retrospect I’m still glad that I did this because I like having my downtime away from everything. The resort was a beautiful oasis away from the classroom for me. The view of the ocean from our room also was a nice perk!

The classes were for 4 days, the first three were morning classes with a late afternoon shoot and the last day was all day classes. The classes were pretty much repeating the topics from WPPI with a bit of expanded info but not enough for me to feel like I ended up learning that much more over the Plus Class workshop with him. The thing that he mostly expanded upon was Aperture, which I do not use (I prefer Lightroom). However, I realize that is my own mistake for essentially retaking a class and I don’t fault Mike for that. What I did take away from the classroom part of the workshop is a better grasp of shooting in manual, which after this class I was able to switch to shooting in all of the time.

The shoots were one engagement shoot and two bridal shoots. During the Plus Class, Mike was pretty hands on teaching the class what he was seeing and what he was looking for when shooting. I was disappointed during the Maui class that it was essentially a free for all and while he did lead us to locations that was it and there was no on location teaching. During the shoots, Mike asked us to use our telephoto lenses so that no one was 'in the faces' so to speak of the models, ruining the shot for the others. This wasn't followed at all, particularly by one person that informed us that they do not shoot with their telephoto and proceeded to use their shorter primes for most of the shoots. While I didn't mind the occasional "do you mind if I get in close for a shot I want" person, it got aggravating when one person tended to always be in the models faces, making it hard to get any shots without them in it. In the end, I have just as many shots of that person in the frame as the models. I ended up getting frustrated with the whole shootout in general and either tended to shoot the class or scenes around me. I can't really complain too much about this though as during one of my fed up episodes I ended up seeing a Hawaiian Monk Seal on the beach and taking some pictures of it. As I'm an animal lover, seeing this endangered species in the wild made all that frustration worth it since that's what it led to. I realize that it's not Mike's fault per se that the shootouts tended to revolve around one person shooting but I wish I'd spoken up at the time and asked them to step aside. By the last shootout, I would zig when the other person zagged so that I was far away from anyone when getting my shot and it worked out for me. I wish I'd done this earlier in the workshop.

The portfolio review was kind of a let down. We basically went over my website and he said “I like that” to a few pics and that was it. I had about 5-10 minutes with Mike for this as there was a PUG party taking place and we were rushed for time. I’ll admit that I don’t take well to criticism but I would have liked a few pointers. By this point (the last day) I was so frazzled and over everything I was just wanting it all to be over and to leave it all behind me.

To be completely honest, after the second day my husband had to pretty much FORCE me to go back to the class. I honestly can’t even pinpoint why I wanted to quit, but that’s how much that I wasn’t into the experience - I was willing to essentially give up $3000 to just be done with it and go on to enjoy my time on Maui. I did finish out the workshop but it wasn’t without a struggle.

I met some great people at the workshop. I will forever smile every.single.time I think of Natalie and Ritchie Norton as they are just flat out good people. She’s mad talented to boot. I adore her. I am glad that I went just for meeting her alone. Gee I sound like a stalker!! I swear though, you’ll understand if you ever meet Natalie. There were some really wonderful people at the workshop and I'm glad to have met them, even if they were only in my life for a few days.

Am I glad I went? Yes. Without this workshop, I highly doubt that I'd have Maui marked off my bucket list of places to see. I now shoot comfortably in manual. I nail exposures now and my post-processing time is minimal. I bought a Mac after being embarrassed of being the only PC in the group. I learned how to play poker (and didn't come in last!). I saw a Hawaiian Monk Seal and Humpback Whales in the wild. I had Hawaiian Shaved Ice IN Hawaii. I had numerous experiences in Hawaii that I wouldn't give back for anything, even if the workshop wasn't quite what I expected.

*Adding this in because I've been called out about the 'now I shoot in manual comfortably' thing. I shot about 60% aperture priority (with exposure compensation)/40% manual before the workshop. I know how to work a camera and I never have shot a pro gig on program. After this workshop I went to 100% manual. Mock if you will, but there are some great photographers out there that shoot Aperture Priority and seem to make a living at it. ;)

Recommend? n/a as this workshop isn't offered anymore.

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

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista, travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.