Website: http://www.mikecolon.net/, 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.