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.


  1. Interesting to hear your perspective -- like you, I've heard raves from others who have attended, so it's actually nice to hear the other side. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I agree with Lisa. I haven't yet been on any kind of workshop - haven't come across one that I am interested in going on and that I want to invest a huge chunk of money on!

    This sounds like one that I'm glad I didn't go to! If there is one thing I dislike more than anything that is people not getting back to me. I can't believe the lack of contact you've had with Lara especially as you invested in what she had to say!

    Simply stunning :-/

  3. Hi, I have been reading your blog for only a few weeks and i love your reviews. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us. There are so many workshops out there. With how expensive they are, it's nice to hear one person's experience and make an informed decision. Thanks again.

  4. Corey, I love your honest reviews. Thank you for sharing so frankly. It's a huge commitment for most of us to drop hundreds (or thousands in some cases) of dollars on workshops, so it is helpful to really get some insight on what we can truly expect. (I attended a great workshop last year, but I didn't exactly become BFFs with the photog 'celebrity' speakers as marketing would lead you to believe.) Keep it up! :)

  5. Corey,

    Not to sound negative, but I have a very little respect for many of those workshops.

    I especially amused when reading how those photographers would LOVE to share their knowledge -for a very high price of course- but run their workshop as if it is some kind of an assembly line.

    I cannot afford many of those workshops and the only workshops I did do (about five of them) were with other photographers (Toronto). We rented a studio and a couple of models and spent a few hours. Ideas bounced around and we got to experiment a lot.

    It was affordable (about $200 each) and VERY beneficial.

    I have been trying to get some photographers together in my area (Montreal) but can't seem to get anybody to do the same here. Too bad.

    If I have an advice for photographers is get together, rent a place or just use the outdoors and learn from each other.

    We pay hundreds (sometime thousands) of dollars hoping for a workshop to change our lives and they will not. Many photographers might say they benefited from a workshop although I strongly believe that they, somehow, have to justify the big expense.

    Those workshops are not there to teach us, they are there to make money.

    It also become very obvious that many of those photographers do not really photograph anymore. They simply can't with a busy workshop schedule. They make much more money running workshops than photographing and it is so much less stressful.

    Just my two cents.

  6. I am very leery of workshops also... in-fact, I'm sort of nauseated by the amount of workshops there are for photographers and the HUGE price tags. While some are very worthwhile, others definably are not. Now, for a work shop that is taught by a true professional, and is very reasonably priced, check out David William’s Almost Alone course.

    I attended this seminar in January and it was the BEST thing I have done for my business and has honestly changed my life in many ways. He is so down to earth, and basically tells you to cut the crap and get back to photography. Its 3 days for $1000 (VERY reasonable), and only has a maximum class size of 12, and afterwards you walk away with many friends (including David). I can e-mail him or call him anytime. I highly recommend attend the next seminar he has. It will change the way you see photography, I guarantee.

  7. THANK you for an honest review!!!

  8. So sorry to hear your poor experience at the workshop.

    I am very disappointed that nowadays EVERYBODY is offering workshops and it's really hard for the consumer to discern between good ones and bad ones. And you don't know about how good/bad it is until you've actually sit through one.

    On a positive note, I know there are some really good ones out there by people who are not only good photographers but also good educators.

  9. great review! From what I heard about airhorns and lasers you didnt miss much

  10. Honestly, I took it and couldnt agree with you more, most of the people in my group feel the same way. Apparently, she gave everyone a partial scholorship and told everyone not to tell each other, probably because nobody could afford the 1200 dollars she wanted so she had to cut the price in half. Then she tells us we will all be published in her her magazine came out and nobody was in it, when we all submitted our work. The entire workshop was fake, unorganized and it was just a way for her to make a quick buck oh and take a paid vacation with her friends. It is sad, how could you actually be okay about taking money from people that cant really afford it? If you're reading this DONT TAKE IT. oh and Airhorns and lasers was the WORST. ya lets make people wait in the rain for 2 buses to go back and forth to pick people up. Sad sad sad.


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