Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Christa Meola's Paris Workshop Retreat & Mentoring Program

I attended Christa Meola's Paris 5-Day Workshop Retreat in May, 2012 as part of her mentoring program. As the mentoring program (and my review of it) is tied to the workshop retreat, I will be discussing both in this post.

UPDATE: AUGUST 6, 2012: Christa Meola's response can be found in the comments. (August 6 at 4:25pm.)

UPDATE: AUGUST 10, 2012: If you are a member of DWF, you can see another workshop attendee's review (Tricia), corroborating this post - the post is available by clicking here.

For those that have inquired, the PDFs are now available also of the Mentoring Program Promotion email and the Paris Workshop Promotion page from Christa Meola's site. All testimonials on the Mentoring Program document are not from past mentoring clients, but rather people that did her Online Workshop.

UPDATE: AUGUST 12, 2012: A third review from Catherine Schultz has been added in the comments below. A fourth review was too long for comments, and was instead added as a guest post here on PLC from Sigrid Cardona.

UPDATE: AUGUST 13, 2012: A fifth, extremely extensive review from Taranjit has been added in the comments below.


Website: http://christameola.com/liveworkshops

Presenter: Christa Meola, guest speaker Carla Coulson

Date: May 1-5, 2012 (4 days)

Location: St. James Hotel, Paris, France

Price: $4500 for the workshop alone; the workshop was included in $10,000 price for mentoring (along with a long list of other items.) I cancelled my mentoring immediately after the workshop, and paid a total of $3914 out of the $10,000.

Included: 4 nights of hotel (not the 5 expected), "models", breakfast buffet for 4 days, 30 minute mini boudoir session with Christa for regular workshop attendees -- Mentoring clients were told that they would have a boudoir session valued at $3000.

For mentoring clients, additional items were included - the $3000 boudoir session, the $4500 workshop, a portfolio review, a branding call, 6 mentoring calls, watching Christa do a boudoir session with a client, and more.

(Mentoring Program Promotion (testimonials at the end are from past Online Workshop participants, not past Mentoring clients) and Paris Workshop Promotion.)

Workshop Bonuses: Ticket to Crazy Horse Burlesque Show; were told we would have a private tour guide for two museums, but did not. Two splits of champagne and a box of macaroons were in each room upon check-in; we each received a small notebook.

What I Expected: An opportunity for the mentoring clients to get together and advance their mentoring experience, growing their businesses at a more rapid pace. Building business foundations, discussing pricing, marketing, getting published and other advanced business topics.

I expected the workshop to be heavy on business topics and "classroom" learning, with only minimal if any model shoots.

Expectation Met? NO.

The Positive: The women who attended the workshop with me are amazing. I've learned so much from them, I'm inspired by them, and I look forward to a great future with them. They are all wonderful, and I think the world of them.

Key Reasons for Expectations Not Being Met:
(Post updated to add this section on August 8, 2012.)
- The 5 day workshop was 3 days, not 5.
- Only 4 nights of hotel costs and breakfast were covered, not all meal costs as implied in her literature about the workshop for mentoring clients.
- Literature promised models for this "Fine Art Nude and Boudoir Workshop," leading to the expectation that all models would be either nude or wearing boudoir-appropriate clothing. In reality, there was 1 nude model, 2 lingerie models and 4 models fully clothed in "street attire."
- Did not cover the materials she said stated in promotional literature that she would be covering, had no presentations prepared for teaching them to us, and no "classroom" room for us to learn in.
- Included for mentoring students a "valued at $3000" boudoir session (her rate for a normal session); instead delivered a 30 minute mini session instead of her $3000 session. Alerted mentoring students 3 weeks before the workshop that it was only 30 minutes, but they could add another 30 minutes for $1000, even though her stated "extra outfit" rate is $195.
- Mentoring program promotional materials stated monthly calls; once in the program it was revealed that there were 6 calls instead of 12.

Summary:
This is probably going to be the longest post I've ever written on PhotoLoveCat, but this workshop deserves an extensive review.

This is also a very difficult post to write, as prior to the workshop I admired Christa Meola and what I perceived as her business practices.

I applied and was accepted to Christa Meola's 2012 mentorship program. I was very excited about this opportunity and viewed it as a great way to push my career to the next level, as I have moved my business to have a full time focus on boudoir in 2012.

When you applied for the mentorship, you did not know the price. There was a long list of items involved in addition to the mentoring calls themselves, which included a 5 Day Workshop Retreat in Paris and a boudoir session with Christa valued at $3000, along with a number of other items. These two items are key to this review. Once accepted, the price was revealed. *UPDATE Aug. 7, 2012* - once the price was revealed, you then had the opportunity to sign up. That was when you committed to mentoring. (Christa told me on two occasions that she had only accepted 5 mentoring clients, but through the comments of this post it seems that she offered to accept more, but they turned her down.) *End of editing to original post*

While it was a high price, I felt that the opportunity to take my business to another level would help me cover the costs.

- Mentoring Calls: The mentoring documents stated that there would be monthly calls. (See PDF linked above.) However, once in the program, I was informed that there would be six calls instead of the twelve calls from the promotional materials. I only participated in two out of six mentoring calls with Christa; I opted to save them for after the workshop, as I felt I would need more help then. On the two calls I had with her, we discussed pricing information that conflicted on the second call dramatically with what she said on the first. Instead of having a program for mentoring clients, all calls were "what do you need?" -- a challenge for someone being mentored, as they don't know what they need.

- LIVE Workshop & Paris Retreat -- a Fine Art Nude & Boudoir Photography Retreat “The cornerstone event of the [mentoring] program where the most magic happens! …You are responsible for your own airfare and any spending money needed for lingerie, perfume, and extra croissants.” “You will receive personal coaching from Christa while you shoot and be granted use of all images for your blog and portfolio. Christa will share in-depth info on how to work beautifully with natural light, the art of coaching & posing models, creating high-end sets & styling, creating amazing relationships with clients, pricing, post production, branding & more.” (Directly from Christa's mentorship literature.)
NOTE: We were told this would be a FIVE Day workshop & retreat.

Some of these areas were the exact reason why I applied for the mentorship program. I wanted a push to my work. I was excited for MONTHS about this workshop & retreat. Instead, nothing promised happened in Paris. -- The "five day" workshop was three days. Three & a half if you consider the time we spent from 6pm - 11pm the first night, Tuesday May 1st. Wednesday May 2nd, Thursday May 3rd & Friday May 4th were days with events scheduled. There were no workshop events scheduled on May 5th.

-- The wording in Christa's literature implied it was all inclusive. "You are responsible for your own airfare and any spending money needed for lingerie, perfume, and extra croissants." Yet when I asked  in Paris about included lunches and dinners, Christa laughed at me and said, "OH NO! I couldn't afford THAT!" I guess we were supposed to eat "extra croissants" for all of our meals?

-- Prior to the workshop, I tried several times to raise the issue of the 5 days vs 3 days, it was pointed out to me on the phone that we would be working with 9-12 models, photographing a lot of fine art nudes, getting lots of coaching. This did not happen. I was also told that Christa would be packing in "so much" teaching, we would be simply exhausted. The only times Christa taught were over dinner Tuesday (May 1 - while many had jetlag from arriving that morning in Paris), and at lunch on Friday - a meal specifically "optional" as she said you would not be teaching over lunch & dinner. These were the ONLY teaching times.

-- As a response to my question about the 3 day vs 5 day issue, I was told by Christa several times how we could get together on Saturday & Sunday following the workshop as she would be in Paris for several days afterwards; however when I asked to make plans she declined to do so. Meeting with me personally was supposed to help with the missing two days from the workshop for me, but did not help anyone else attending.

-- Things were not "packed in" but rather at such convoluted times that there was no way we could not be exhausted & drained by the end. Shoots started at 9:30am, days ended at midnight or later. The early-risers among our group missed any late-night conversations because they were in bed by 10 or 11pm.

Food: -- We were told in advance that there would be food options for all price points (which confused those of us that were in the mentoring program, since we were told we only needed money for "extra croissants"); some attendees were on a tight budget and this was brought up in advance on our planning Facebook Group. Yet Christa made people feel bad if we chose to take the subway over taxis, and if we did not want to spend 30-50 Euros (or more) per meal.

*Update on Aug. 7, 2012* I've been asked to provide a summary at this point, so that if you do not want to read the full post, you do not have to.

None of the proposed business topics were covered. This was not the "cornerstone of the mentoring program", and out of the 12 attendees, only 5 were in the mentoring program.

None of the coaching, posing, working with clients materials were covered. She did a 30 minute demo of how she shoots on the last day (after all model sessions were done), which covered very basic topics. At the lunch meeting later that day she answered questions - no prepared material - about pricing and marketing, meanwhile making snide comments about the 6 workshop attendees who were not there because (a) they did not want to have to pay 60 Euros or more for their lunch and (b) they were doing their own booked photo shoot. She stated how they weren't doing what was best for their business.

There was no instruction style of teaching in a private space where the group could learn and ask questions. Christa presented twice in public spaces in French restaurants.

I did not attend the workshop expecting it to have any photo shoots, as I have a portfolio already; other attendees were anticipating the sessions though.
- An attendee had to go out on the streets of Paris hours before the workshop started to find models for the next two days.
- Of the models we had, 1 was a fine art nude model, 1 was a model represented by Ford modeling agency. The other 5 were not professional models.
- We had 1 model that was willing to pose nude - for a Fine Art NUDE & Boudoir workshop.
- We had no models that would pose outdoors in lingerie, a specifically promised style of shoot we would be doing.
- Out of the 7 models, only 3 would pose in lingerie or nude. 4 were fully clothed.

Christa provided no assistance with shoots other than criticizing remarks questioning why we were photographing certain ways. She offered no posing or other tips. She did visit our room during our hour long shoots for 5 minutes at most. (There were shoots in 2-3 rooms in the hotel at once.)

The boudoir session was presented as being valued at $3000 for mentoring clients - Christa's normal rate for a 3 outfit, no time limit session with a 5x5 album - were instead 30 minute sessions, rushed, and overlapping with other photographer's sessions. My session was scheduled for after the workshop, and I opted not to do my session due to the rude treatment I had received from Christa up to this point. I did not feel that it would be the empowering experience I expected, and had also no information on what time my session was at or where it was taking place as late as 10am that morning.

I would NOT RECOMMEND a workshop or Christa's Mentoring Program.

I have outlined all of the extensive supporting details below, including a day by day breakdown. These are only the highlights in this summary.
*End of Aug. 7, 2012 edit to this post. Continue reading if you would like further details.*

THE WORKSHOP - DETAILED by the DAY
Day 0 - Tuesday, May 1st:

-- I arrived on May 1, and was surprised to learn when I met up with three of the attendees for lunch and a leisurely afternoon before things began at 6pm that they had been asked, on a French national holiday, to go out on the relatively empty streets to try to find models for us to work with the next day. Models should have been booked & paid for in advance through an agency for people attending a $4500 workshop.

-- We had been told repeatedly that it was "our trip" to Paris too, that we could do whatever we wanted, and that anything on the timeline in italics was "our choice" -- yet I was publicly chastised for being late to what was a welcome cocktail hour when I had to wait for a Metro train during rush hour.

-- After chastising me, Christa went on to state again that *all meals* and *all activities* were optional, and she would NOT be teaching during those times.

-- She asked us not to be late because it is her pet peeve -- and then asked us to be understanding as things changed on the schedule, expecting us to extend a courtesy to her that she couldn't extend to us when we were late for any reason.

-- I've attended many workshops, and normally they start off with everyone introducing themselves. While most of us had been in the Facebook Group, many people did not use their photo as their avatar, so we didn't know who was who. At no point did we have a "go around the circle and introduce yourselves" - and we went straight from the cocktail hour to dinner.

-- Dinner was in a public space in a restaurant (not a private room, as those are rare in Paris) which was quite noisy. Christa then taught to a long table of people. I had the benefit of having my notebook with me, and the fortune of being seated right across from her. Most people at the table could not hear, and did not know to bring anything to take notes with.

Day 1 (Wednesday), Morning:

** This was the day she should have demonstrated posing for us, "how to work beautifully with natural light, the art of coaching & posing models, creating high-end sets & styling, creating amazing relationships with clients" -- before any of us ever picked up a camera. Instead, we went straight in to working with models and other workshop attendees.

-- My roommate & I were never informed that our room would be used for one of the model rooms. When we found out that morning, we had to stop getting ourselves ready for the day to prep the room for people to photograph in it. (Including securing our own valuables and personal belongings, as a model was left alone in our room.) We should have been notified in advance that our room would be used. UPDATE on Aug. 7, 2012: Clarification - as the St. James is a gorgeous boutique hotel, each room is different. We knew that our rooms were being used, and that Christa had visited each room to select which 3 rooms to use as the "sets" -- we discovered from an attendee (not Christa) in advance of about 30 minutes before the start time that our room had been selected. We were not opposed to the room being used, but did expect the courtesy of being notified.

-- We had one professional fine art model to work with, one "model" that was a 20-something woman found on the streets of Paris by a workshop attendee, and then we photographed another workshop attendee. While the workshop attendee was great to photograph and is actually more in line with my target market, they were not Fine Art / Nude models. It also meant that those attendees did not get to photograph one model.

-- The professional art model was modeling in my room, and she drank our champagne and ate our food. Because of this, others had issues with her being drunk - I fortunately was able to push past this and get her to focus on me (although it was so stressful to do I managed to snap at another attendee when I shouldn't have.)

-- The art model was the only model willing to pose nude. The other workshop attendee was fantastic about being photographed and ok doing "implied nudes", the third model did lingerie only.

-- At no point did Christa coach our group. She did step in to the room we were working in twice, criticized poses, stating "she didn't think that was flattering", but that was the only time she was in the rooms while we were shooting. She never asked to see the photographs we took, gave no critique or assistance, and did not talk at all about the "Fine Art" side of things.

Day 1 (Wednesday), Afternoon:

-- We had been told at dinner on Tuesday night that we would be working with nude & boudoir models at the banks of the Seine. The three models we worked with were great as models, but fully clothed. NOT fine art nude or even boudoir. After being told for months about the boudoir sessions we would be doing outdoors, this was very misleading and disappointing.

-- One model was underage, and many workshop attendees can't use any photographs of her on their site because of this fact.

-- One of these models was, in fact, a professional hired photography model, represented by Ford. As far as I am aware, she was the only professional photography model.

-- Again, no coaching for our group, although Christa did criticize if she felt we weren't moving on fast enough to a new pose. We had worked within our group to give each other a chance to pose and a chance to get photos in each setting. Christa specifically called me out at one point for "shooting the same thing" towards the end - not realizing that I had not been able to get a shot at all because our group was large at that time and the space was tight, and I was trying to work with the group so everyone could get the shot they wanted.

Day 1 (Wednesday), Dinner:

-- Christa had planned dinner at the St James Hotel where we were staying, yet did not know that the prix fix menu was 75 Euros with a wine pairing, and had to negotiate another option for the number of attendees that did not drink. (Or want to pay 75 Euros for dinner.)

 -- When some of us said that we were going to leave to get food for less than 27 Euros (the entree only rate), she told us not to go because you didn't want the group split up - a complete contradiction to the fact that all meal times were supposed to be free time if we wanted to eat on our own.

 -- When another attendee & I asked a clarification question about the itinerary, she asked us with a harsh tone, "Have you READ your itinerary?" Yes, we had. We were jetlagged, and it wasn't clear so we asked a question about it. Plus we just wanted to confirm that was the plan. We were then told that the itinerary we had was no longer going to apply, that we would get new ones on Day 2 - but we never again had an itinerary.

 -- When the attendee who had been sent out to the streets to find models told Christa that she had two models confirmed for day 2, Christa made her cancel them stating that she would have three models there already. The attendee asked if they should come as backup, and Christa said no because she didn't want to have to pay them. (This all happened next to me at the dinner table.)

 -- During dinner, Christa approached our table and gave us the option to skip the Musee d'Orsay so that she could do a demo shoot for us. It was unclear why both couldn't take place since the Musee d'Orsay was the guided tour that we were looking forward to doing, and the demo shoot could also take place. However, the other table had already voted, so the majority wanted the demo shoot and the museum trip was cancelled.

 -- For those of us that flew to Paris on the 1st (Day 0), or for those that were used to going to bed by 10 or 11pm, having our guest speaker, Carla Coulson, start to speak at 10pm was entirely too late. Add to that having it in a dark bar. Out of all of the lectures at the workshop, hers was the most well prepared and the most valuable - I just wish it could have been at 7pm, not 10pm and in a private space. Carla had notes prepared for her talk and gave a very informative presentation. Sadly, I was nodding off at the end as jetlag took over. I would love to hear more from Carla in the future.

Day 2 (Thursday), Morning:

 -- Started late - we were told it would start at 9:30, but instead it started at 10:30.

 -- Told we would be given a new itinerary reflecting the changes from the night before but we never were.

 -- We only had two models to work with -- which would not have been the case if Christa had allowed the other two confirmed models come to the shoot.

 -- Again, we had been told that these would be Fine Art nude models, and that we could photograph nudes in the private gardens on the property. When asked, the models would not do either nudes or boudoir. The first model told us specifically, "no boudoir, no nudes." The second model did agree to model lingerie, but only indoors. She did not have lingerie with her, but the same attendee that had gone out to find models for us had brought lingerie with her, and the model wore it for us.

 -- I was told weeks before the workshop that there would be 9-12 models total that we were working with; we had 7 models and one workshop attendee to photograph. While I did not attend with the intention of building my portfolio, many other people did. This was our last official model session time.

Day 2 (Thursday), Afternoon:

 -- We went to the Musee Rodin for a tour. We had been told originally that Christa would be hiring a private tour guide. When we arrived in Paris, she said that she couldn't find one for us for this museum, but she knew the Rodin so well she would be our guide. We had to cover the cost of our own tickets to the museum. As we advanced through the museum, Christa did not wait for the group to gather to speak, instead speaking to whoever was closest to her and no one else. When she went in to the main building, she left half of the group outside, trying to figure out where to go. It was by no means comparable to a guided tour as she had told us in the weeks leading up to the workshop was going to be one of our "surprises".

 -- There was one statue inside the museum where Christa did take the time to talk with several groups of people about how if it was a model you could photograph it. That was the only time she accounted for people to catch up, and not all made it.

 -- Buying our museum tickets would have made more sense then buying splits of champagne and macaroons for us; especially as several people had pointed out in advance on the FB group that we didn't drink.

Day 2 (Thursday), Evening:

 -- Crazy Horse Show -- a definite highlight of the trip. If you are in Paris, go to see the Crazy Horse Show!

 -- Once again, rude comments from Christa afterwards, as one attendee wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower at night and another attendee & I offered to take her there. Christa asked how many times we were going to go to the Eiffel Tower, and then made a snide comment about how it didn't hold that much interest for her. It was rude, especially as we offered to go with the attendee so that she was not walking alone through Paris with thousands of dollars of camera gear. Plus I like the Eiffel Tower, especially at night.

Day 3 (Friday), Morning:

 -- Again, prepped my room for shoots to take place in there. (All three days.)

 -- The day started late again, although we no longer had an official itinerary.

 -- Christa announced at breakfast that she would be talking about marketing, pricing, etc. at lunch at the Baccarat Room -- adding at the end of her statement the very pointed comment that this was the *only* time she would be covering those subjects, so if people didn't attend lunch they weren't going to hear about the topics. Teaching should have been done in a private space, where budget wasn't a concern, and where everyone could hear and have an engaging dialogue. All three times that any teaching was done, it was in a loud space, and twice over "optional" meals.

 -- Christa originally cancelled the Musee D'Orsay visit so that she could demonstrate how she does a session. She demonstrated with my roommate for roughly 10-15 minutes in our room. She demonstrated for another 10 minutes with another attendee in the garden. She then made a point to ask that attendee to stay out there longer so Christa could do more work with her, while we were dismissed. It was unclear why she didn't work longer with my roommate indoors (as that would have been the best area for the most instruction, pose options, etc.). The instructions outdoors were very minimal - using the sheer dress to get light through it and having her turn to face the light. There was no sense to how Christa would do a session.

 -- At this point, the attendee that had scouted models had two more women come to the hotel to model a anyone that wanted to stay behind was welcome to photograph them. Attendees who photographed them paid for the models themselves.

Day 3, Afternoon:

 -- Baccarat Crystal Room: another meal that was in the 60+ Euro range. Fortunately, due to having a migraine I had eaten before arriving there, so I only had dessert. It was still 26 Euros for dessert and Evian water.

 -- I felt odd going to a high-end restaurant in Paris and only having dessert, but if I wanted to hear the only topics I came to Paris to learn about, I had to do it over lunch. I wouldn't have ordered anything at all, but the waitress clearly would not find that acceptable.

 -- During the talk that Christa gave, she insulted five times that I counted the people who did not attend the lunch. I was so offended by this, I actually wrote down some of the things that she said as I was taking notes. The key point was that they could have been there at lunch learning about the business side of things but instead they were back in the hotel photographing a model - and how Christa was "over" taking photos and didn't even want to pick up her camera.

This solidified her complete lack of professionalism for me. Especially since my own "valued at $3000" boudoir session was supposed to be the next day - and here she was telling me she had no desire to do it, in addition to insulting all of my peers who were doing their best to salvage a very lackluster experience.

-- I am a kinesthetic learner and an extensive note taker; reviewing my notebook, I only took 4 pages of notes from what Christa covered, the whole extent of the "cornerstone of the mentoring program" and when we were going to dig in deep on business. In contrast, I took 8 pages of notes when our guest speaker, Carla, spoke on getting published at the end of day 1. Carla had prepared notes; Christa was speaking off the cuff and answering questions that the 5 of us at lunch asked, with no prepared presentation on this, a key topic of the workshop.

 -- After lunch there was a large afternoon gap - where we could have easily done the originally cancelled Musee d'Orsay tour with the professional guide, or even better where Christa could have taught to the group in a private setting in the hotel. She opted to go to the spa for a massage.

Day 3 (Friday), Evening:

 -- Dinner at the Grand Colbert: I think Christa thanked half the table for attending, but I'm not sure because she stood up and faced just them - never speaking towards the half of the table I was at. It was very clear that Christa was "over us".

 -- Christa told us all pointedly how she had thanked the hotel for us, and seemed surprised that we had all been thanking the hotel all along, because we hadn't been thanking her.

-- This was the only time Christa said "farewell" to the group - there were no activities for attendees on Saturday morning other than hotel checkout. This was the end of Day 3 of a FIVE DAY workshop.

Day 4 (Saturday), morning:

 -- I had requested originally that my boudoir session be the last one of the day because Christa had said it would go longer as a mentoring client. Instead I was double booked with another attendee, and after asking several times I could never find out exactly what time I was supposed to be there for my since we had both received conformation emails for the exact same time. More importantly, I was never told WHERE to go for my session.

 -- By that point, I opted not to investigate further because with the level of disappointment I was feeling as a whole about the workshop, I knew I would never be happy with the photos.

 -- As part of Christa's online workshop, she talked about how she pre-planned sessions with clients, asking them what their vision was for a session, and things like that. While my session was "Valued at $3000" and her regular sessions at the time that I signed up for the mentoring program were just over $3000, I expected a FULL session, and to be treated with the same regard as a regular client. When I received the email 3 weeks before the workshop telling me to sign up for my 30 minute session time, I questioned this via email, and Christa's initial response was to tell me to not attend the workshop because she didn't want me to come with a negative attitude and influence others.

I had already purchased a non-refundable plane ticket and had been looking forward to the workshop for months. I explained to her that I in fact had a very positive attitude about attending & had been looking forward to the workshop, and just wanted clarification. The issue was settled when she said she would do a longer session with me - but when I brought it up in Paris she said it would be a normal session, and by the time Saturday & my session arrived, she had dropped the ball on so many other things - really, the workshop as a whole - that I was shattered and had no desire to do such a vulnerable thing as a boudoir session with her.

We were told that if we did not do the session in Paris, it would not happen at a later time.

Conclusion:  There was no In-Depth explanation of “creating amazing relationships with clients, creating high-end sets, styling" - as Christa advertised, and only extremely limited, very basic information on coaching and posing.

I should add that I've attended and hosted (for other speakers) many workshops over the years, and I do have a high expectation of workshop / retreat hosts, especially for a workshop that costs $4500. I expect the workshop presenter to be professional and courteous. At nearly every meeting with Christa, she was rude & dismissive. She repeatedly blamed her assistant Ursula for the lack of models instead of resolving the issue -- if she told us anything at all.

The workshop was poorly organized, and if we questioned anything for clarity we were treated like misbehaving children for asking. We were scolded for not having the itinerary memorized, then told we would have a new one, and then never provided with one.

There was no personal coaching, no instructing our groups.

I left Paris feeling as though I had funded a grand vacation for Christa and a trip where she could go buy $300 underwear (which she told us about over dinner), but couldn't hire models for us out of the funds we paid.

She made a point of commenting when Carla came to speak on how great it was that one person's family chipped in for her to attend -- ignoring that ALL of our families sacrificed for us to be there. She may have an unlimited budget (I can only assume since spending money seemed to be no issue for her) -- but many of us did not.

"Boudoir Session with Me -- Need I say more? $3,000+”
-- I actually used the boudoir session with Christa as a BIG selling point to my husband. She was well aware of how angry I was when I then received an email that this would be a 30 minute session. Only once I pushed the issue did she mention that she planned to give the mentoring clients files (which was the price difference) - but none of the other mentoring clients were ever told this in advance of the workshop. As I cancelled my session, I do not know if the files were delivered.

 -- From the documentation, it was written as though the workshop attendees who weren't mentoring clients had mini sessions. It was a bait & switch for those of us that were mentoring clients.

 -- In addition, in the orignal mentoring documents the boudoir session was sold as if we would get THE Christa Meola experience. That she would talk to us in advance about our goals, our plans, the "story" of our session, just like she mentioned in the online workshop. She did none of those things for the mentoring clients who were expecting to receive something valued at $3000.

 -- Christa said repeatedly in her online workshop how she educates clients all along on her pricing, but we were also never given a pricelist in case we did want to purchase anything from her. (Prints, albums, etc. from our sessions.)

 -- Due to Christa's attitude towards us workshop attendees, it was clear to me that doing a session with her would not be the experience I had been told it would be when I signed up in January. This was a huge disappointment, as I had been working hard for 4 months to prepare for my session - working out, spending a significant amount of money on outfits and makeup. She made me feel small and insignificant, not empowered -- and no woman should go in to a boudoir session feeling that way. EVER.

Below is a reconciliation of what the mentor program advertised and what I paid for and received by the time I sent the above information to Christa at the end of May, 2012. (this version has been slightly edited from what I sent to her - to which she never responded.)

In that email, I also stated to Christa that I would not be continuing the mentorship program and I would be paying no additional funds beyond what I had already paid to date.

- Online workshop - $495
- Call 1: (1 hr) - $500
- Call 2: (1/2 hr) - Rushed, completely conflicting information from what was given on previous call, focused more on how I should not "talk so fast" even though I was short on time. No value.
- Paris Boudoir Workshop & Retreat - did not meet the mark on any of the selling points, one "fine art nude" sessions, very limited boudoir. Only teaching at meals. = $200 to account for fees paid to models
- Paris Workshop Hotel + Buffet - 4 nights at $250/night (my half of the room based on the online advertised price of approximately $500/night at Oyster) + $25/day for 4 meals, not buffet. (Ordered off the menu, told to take from buffet but that they would not be charged at buffet rate by hotel staff.) = $1000 + $100. = $1100
- Boudoir Shoot with Christa = $0
- Crazy Horse Ticket = $140
- Total = $2435.00

 Payments Made by Me
Nov. 2011 (Black Friday sale of online workshop) = $495
Jan. 2012 = $863.92
Feb. 2012 = $851.33
March 2012 = $853.47
April 2012 = $851.20
Total Paid to Date = $3914.92
Difference = $1479.92 in my favor

As of this time, I have not sought a refund for the balance of monies that I have paid.

Recommend? I would not absolutely NOT recommend working with Christa Meola in any workshop or mentoring capacity, based on the experience that I had.

Note: I want to reiterate that this is my views on MY experience and I realize other attendees may have had positive experiences with the Christa Meola Workshop and Retreat.

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. 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.

152 comments:

  1. Very informative review, thank you. I hope it stops anyone else from going through what you went through. I know how disappointed you must have felt.

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  2. Christine:

    I'm so sorry you had to experience this. It's very disappointing to learn of this.

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  3. Christine, hats off to you for telling the truth. These are all things I have heard before, even with my own ears. Good for you for being honest!

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  4. I am so proud of you for putting this out there! I know it is scary but when things like this happen, especially at this high dollar, the leaders of these workshops need to be called out. That is so sad how badly this went and even more sad how easily she could have made this more of a positive experience for you just by being pleasant. I am glad you didn't have to pay the full $10K but you know I have to say ARE YOU CRAZY!?! for spending that much on anyone! LOL

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  5. As a professional photographer and educator I find this post informative, educational and very well written. Educators open themselves up to public review when they charge money for their knowledge, and I love the thought process, in-depth review you have given here.

    Well Done!

    I am sorry you experienced this and sadly I am sure others will in the future. People need to realize just because your a great photographer does not mean your a great educator (and visa versa) I hope people read this and learn from it. Again Thank you for posting an honest, straight forward, with no anger review. More of this is needed.

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  6. I am sitting here with my jaw on my keyboard almost. I always secretly wanted to attend a high priced mentoring workshop and would try to sell it to myself as "Look how much I could get out of this" yet, more and more often, I hear disappointed stories from people that always stop me from actually going forward .

    I also frequently hear that the people HOSTING don't respond to criticism which, at the prices they charge is just disgusting.

    I'm sorry you had to go through this but thankful that you are there to let people know what they are letting themselves in for!

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  7. WOW!!! Thank-you for taking the time to write this review, we need this kind of info.

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  8. Thank you for writing this, you saved me 10 grand. I'm so sorry you had the experience you did.

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  9. wow, i am so sorry to hear about your experience. That is awful, but i am happy you are educating people on this!

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  10. Wowsahs. You didn't even account for the time away from business cost as well as your airfare in your personal total. This is disastrous.

    I will definitely check out the Crazy Horse Show when I revisit Paris, though. :)

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  11. Thank you for sharing your experience... I can only imagine how difficult it was to share. I'm heartbroken for you that you had to go through all of this... it sounds like Christa was extremely unorganized and misleading. I fell in love with her work after watching her on CreativeLive, so it's really disappointing just to read this.... I can't imagine how awful it was to actually experience this workshop!!

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  12. Hi Christine, I think it is important that all attendees need to be realists when they decide to attend these type of programs. The not so great reviews and feedback on her books, and especially her Creative Live sessions should have been a pretty good indicator of what to expect. One thing that needs to be pointed out is that Christa doesn't usually work with "real" clients. Over 90% of the work she posts are done with trained models. She has lot's of time to plan out each and every shot as this a professional shoot of a professional model. Christa is like the guys on infomercials that sell books and seminars telling you that you can make a million dollars buying and selling houses with no money down. She makes her money off selling books and mentoring sessions, not by servicing real clients. She is a good photographer but shooting a model in a planned out shoot is nothing like shooting someone who has never been in front of the camera and who wants (3) looks, (10) different poses in a 2 hour session. Be that as it may, I'm sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience. It is very hard to please everyone at such events.

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    1. No offense meant, but IMHO if you cannot "please everyone" at an event of such high cost and expense, that's a fail. Either be more careful about setting expectations that meet what you deliver, or focus more energy at meeting the expectations every. single. person arrived with. Alternately, stop hosting them and go back to making a living (or not) as a photographer.

      Delete
    2. In response to your last sentence, I really doubt that ANY of the people that attended this (lack of a) workshop were satisfied. It is very clear that the workshop promised was not the workshop received.

      Delete
    3. Whether she is a good photographer is not the issue.

      The issue is that for the amount of money that she charged for a workshop, the attendees SHOULD have gotten their bloody money's worth!

      Delete
  13. I'm so proud of you, Christine. For months I seen you fret over this experience and I know how hard you worked to make sure your "review" was objective and never petty. As a business coach myself, I cannot imagine running a successful coaching business with so little disregard for the expectations of my clients, and thank you for being brave enough to make it "okay" to publicly express a negative opinion (after you've attempted to do it privately, of course - which I know that you did). You set a great example of leadership. Well done.

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  14. Thank you everyone for the comments! It was hard to write about, but it had to be done. I had to speak out..

    - TriCoast Photography - knowing how many people you see in this industry with the work that you do, your feedback is so helpful!

    - Anonymous - "The not so great reviews and feedback on her books, and especially her Creative Live sessions should have been a pretty good indicator of what to expect." -- I had signed up months before the Creative Live presentation aired, and I missed a good portion of it while it aired because I was photographing a wedding. I've since heard some great reviews, and some very poor.

    Christa commented in her online workshop that she only posts models on her site because the "regular" clients don't want their photographs shared. In hindsight, I would be curious to see more of her "regular client" work.

    - Jeff Jochum, thank you, thank you, thank you. (Also? Every. Word. Matters.)

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  15. Kudos to you for posting this thorough (and infuriating) review. Pure ridiculousness, and I'd still be tempted to seek compensation.

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  16. Has the workshop photographer ever responded to how bad this whole things was? How can she NOT feel like a complete fool ??? I wouldn't be able to sleep!

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  17. Everybody and their cousin now has a workshop. I think some photographers make more off workshops than actual photography (redflag). If you've seen 2 or 3 workshops or videos, you've seen them all and the rest is up to you. If you shell out $4000 expecting to be turned into a great photographer than that is on you.

    Chances are if you bought a $50 book and got out and tried things out, you'd be in the same place so I can't feel too sorry for you.

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    Replies
    1. I am not even a photographer, and I still think you sound like a fool. No one can learn a craft (photographic of otherwise) from a $50 book in the same fashion as an in-depth study with an industry "expert." Go invest your $50 anonymous dollars in "common sense for dummies."

      Delete
  18. Thank you for taking the time to post this review. I had considered applying after I saw her on CL. So glad I did not after hearing your horrible experience. How completely UNPROFESSIONAL of Christa! I hope that you are able to get a refund.

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  19. I feel just horrible for you. I too was a huge fan of her and her work until I attended her small workshop at WPPI and watched her on creative live. Now, I wasn't expecting much because it was only $60 but wow, It was bad. I had already bought her "posing guide" which is just photos with titles. NO DESCRIPTIONS, nothing. For $99. Then to make it worse all her WPPI "workshop" was, was those images up on a projector screen and her talking about them. I was so sad as I had already paid for that same advice. Then at the end I tried to ask her questions and she totally blew me off. I thought her rude manner was perhaps because she was tired from flying but then when I saw creative live I realized that's just her personality :(

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  20. I re-read what you wrote just in case I was too harsh, but I'm not sure what you're complaining about. It sounds like you wanted to get a "free" vacation that you could write off as a business expense and are angry that there is no free lunch (so to speak).

    Even if you spend a week in Oklahoma, it's going to cost you about $2000 in hotel and meals (not counting a motel) so did you really expect to pay $4000 and get 3 fancy French meals plus cab fare and hotel, AND the workshop? Seriously?

    To be honest, I watched Christine's workshop on creative live and couldn't stand it for more than an hour so if you didn't do your own research to see whether your personality matched hers, that's all on you. Some people like that know-it all attitude and apparently she's making good money with it.

    Anyway, my opinion is you should look in the mirror more. There are a lot of photographers who don't need these workshops and do well. If you expected this workshop to make or break your business or skills, then you're not that good and you should be honest with yourself that you just wanted to go to Paris and have fun. Maybe next time go alone and do what you like and eat where you want to eat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Christa will share in-depth info on how to work beautifully with natural light, the art of coaching & posing models, creating high-end sets & styling, creating amazing relationships with clients, pricing, post production, branding & more.”

      THERE. That was what I expected. Exactly from her own promotional material.

      I've attended several workshops in the past. YES, I will be the FIRST to say that I viewed this as a chance to go to Paris, learn from Christa, learn from my fellow attendees, and get to have a nice trip. I booked another 8 days of travel on top of it, spending 3 additional days in Paris and then heading to London.

      I expected to LEARN. I didn't expect it to change my world or completely revolutionize my business (I did expect some of that from mentoring, but not from a "5 day" workshop that was only 3 days.)

      I researched it in advance by listening to the previews for her online workshop. Creative Live did not air until AFTER I was registered for the trip, and I was photographing a wedding when it aired so I didn't see it. I did meet Christa in passing the last day I was at WPPI, and we had a nice quick chat. From my experience up to Paris, I thought our personalities matched just fine. I was EXCITED about going.

      Within 30 minutes of seeing her in Paris, it all went downhill from there, as I've outlined above.

      I didn't go to Paris because I "needed" to - I didn't expect it to make or break my business. I've been photographing boudoir for 4 years, and have worked with over 100 clients. I expected her to follow through on her commitment to TEACH. To go through ever item on that list, and make sure she delivered. From there? It is up to ME what I do with that knowledge.

      Cut and dry - she delivered on NONE of them, and that is her fault. Not mine.

      Of course I wanted to go to Paris and have fun - EVERY attendee wanted that. Obviously. Who wouldn't? But we all wanted to LEARN too.

      Delete
    2. What I would expect from a workshop that states "Christa will share in-depth info on how to work beautifully with natural light, the art of coaching & posing models, creating high-end sets & styling, creating amazing relationships with clients, pricing, post production, branding & more.”

      would be a designated room for shooting- I am just blown away to hear she used the students room which wasn't for warned- that's inexcusable. I would also expect that all "teachings" would take place in a designated and quiet room. I don't think it is unreasonable to have those two expectations alone for the amount of money paid nor is it above expectations to actually be "taught" during shoots. Besides not doing any in depth posing it doesn't sound like she did any work on creating high end sets or styling either. So whomever Anonymous is, go back and reread it again because expectations do not have to be above and beyond but simply what you are told your going to get.

      If I was buying a fully loaded brand new car, you can bet I would be pissed if they drove around the building with an old clunker and said here you go... it's not exactly like the one we let you test drive but it is red like the other one. Hellz no! LOL

      Delete
  21. I don't think the above poster is being honest with his/herself considering they're not even sharing who they are lol

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    1. Molly, why would I share who I am? I don't know anybody involved so why get the headache because I'm not doing the circle jerk? I saw the post on Zack Arias' twitter page and saw by chance that she's also in Houston.

      I'm just against workshops in general because everybody seems to have one - you join meetup's photography groups and are bombarded by "great opportunities". I don't even think most of the $100 workshops are worth it so it's amazing to me that she would blow $4000 on a workshop and then get angry about it.

      Seriously, what did she expect?

      Delete
    2. "Seriously, what did she expect?"

      What she paid for.

      Delete
    3. Dude, you're blaming the wrong person. She paid for something that was NOT delivered. And attending workshops means investing to be better at your business, to become a better photographer. Now I guess you have already reached the Peak Of Photography so you don't need workshops and stuff. All hail the new Avedon.

      Delete
  22. I am really surprised to read this review. I've learned a ton from her and she's always been great with giving feedback and answering questions. She may make the majority of her income these days from teaching other photographers, but the information has been invaluable in helping me grow my own business.

    While I do appreciate your sharing your thoughts, I'm still not clear on why you decided to participate after she specifically recommended that you not attend. That just sounds like a recipe for disaster...

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    Replies
    1. I know it was long so here:

      "Christa's initial response was to tell me to not attend the workshop because she didn't want me to come with a negative attitude and influence others.

      I had already purchased a non-refundable plane ticket..."

      Delete
  23. I read this review and at first thought it was that of a friend/local photographer who also attended, so it's obvious you were not the only one who felt that way. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I've attended a workshop flop but fortunately it only cost about a grand (which is still a disappointing amount in my opinion). Photographers who teach workshops should take pride in their teaching like they do their own work, instead of takIng advantage of people.

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  24. Wanted to show my support for you and say kudos for writing this up.

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  25. Christine,

    I am very sorry that you had such an unpleasant experience as you've expressed here. My team and I work hard to provide a stellar product and experience and we're proud to have hundreds of thrilled clients. I want you to know that I take each request and feedback note very seriously - including your's.

    Investing in something that you feel didn’t meet your expectations is disappointing. I’ve been in business over eight years and am dedicated to this profession, my clients, customers and craft.

    While I fully acknowledge your experience, and again, am truly sorry that this was the outcome, there are many things in this post that are not factually accurate.

    At no time during the workshop, did you verbally express to me dissatisfaction with any of the workshop elements, or give me an appropriate opportunity to address any of your concerns.

    After the workshop, we made several attempts to contact you via phone and email, but you did not respond. Emails from us are dated 5/10, 5/22, 6/1, 6/5, and 6/11. We finally received our first email from you Christine on 6/12 requesting a refund for the workshop in the form of not paying a balance due, which we kindly agreed to via email on 6/14. (We are happy to forward all previous email correspondence.)

    What’s most confusing is that in the weeks before the workshop had started, I offered to refund you Christine, in full, to cancel you from attending since you expressed not being pleased with the workshop schedule. You refused and insisted on attending and agreed to the workshop schedule as delivered.

    While not a full list of each item, I do want to acknowledge a few more key inaccuracies in what you've written.
    9 models were pre-booked and scheduled, and yes, although we did have a couple of no shows ( it was the pro agency models who cancelled with us at 1am the evening prior), and we had real women fill in for them. I often have a mix of real women and models, since not only do I think both are important in business and art, but many workshop attendees request shooting time with real women.
    The last day's workshop agenda was a half-day of boudoir sessions with me for attendees. Christine, you did not show up for this, nor at any time request any additional teaching from me in a group or privately.
    Every event, lecture, museum trip, the Crazy Horse, was voted and unanimously agreed upon by the group - including you.

    Once again, I am truly sorry for your unpleasant experience Christine, and I wish you nothing but the best.

    Christa

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    Replies
    1. nothing new here. look at the wedding industry, its a mess!!! it sucks that this is still going on in the photo industry.

      IMHO, people that have been in business 10 years or less should not be doing Workshops, PERIOD!

      if you have to pay $3000+ for a workshop, please do all the research about the photographer and their company before signing up. you can also ask other photographers about the workshop.

      take a look at Gary Fong's blog as well : http://garyfong1.xanga.com/ this is true people, read all of it.

      keep the truth coming...

      Delete
    2. Yes, you've done a good job shaming the victim, but that isnt the purpose of this post and really doesnt add anything. Christine has done a great job representing what happened and this post is a great warning for anyone googling about Christa's workshops.

      -Signed, Anonymous #2

      Delete
    3. "Emails from us are dated 5/10, 5/22, 6/1, 6/5, and 6/11. We finally received our first email from you Christine on 6/12 requesting a refund for the workshop in the form of not paying a balance due, which we kindly agreed to via email on 6/14."

      Christa, I received one email from you on June 11th stating for some reason that I owed $2200 (which is a number that still makes no sense.) I sent you the above email (with minor revisions), and to date have received no response to that email. If you wrote on June 14, I did not receive any such message.

      I know that I am not the only workshop attendee that addressed you about this, and that two other mentoring clients dropped from the program as well.

      I had NO schedule prior to arriving at the hotel on May 1st. I did express concern 3 weeks beforehand about the "valued at $3000" session being just a 30 minute shoot, which was when you called and suggested maybe I shouldn't come to Paris (never mentioning a refund) -- as I had been planning and looking forward to the trip for 3+ months at that time, and already had a non-refundable plane ticket, an apartment booked for after the workshop, and a trip to London following it, I still wanted to go. I just wanted clarification on the discrepancy.

      I was never asked to vote at any time on anything other than Crazy Horse and the musuems.

      Delete
    4. Oh Boo Freaking Hoo Christine (the complainer). You sound like one of those people who goes to a restaurant, eats an entire meal and then complains that they found a hair in the food (after the meal was finished) and ask for it to be comped.

      You sound like one of those people who threaten to sue wedding photographers after they get good pictures.

      In other words, you sound like a whiny complainer who was complaining before hand. I know your type because I deal with customers like you and have found some people are never happy so the best thing is to not even let them through my door again.

      I hope you end up with a customer such as yourself so you know how it is to treat people.

      Delete
    5. I've waited tables, and if there was a hair in my food I'd alert someone immediately. I've never once asked for a free meal at a restaurant. The one time in the past 10 years I was offered one due to an error on their part, I insisted on paying for the meal.

      I am a wedding photographer, and I am opposed for the most part to litigation. I've never sued anyone personally, although I did work in the legal field for years prior to going in to photography full time.

      I wasn't whining or complaining ahead of time, unless you're the type of person that considers *asking* for clarification on something when it doesn't match up - like a "5 day workshop" being only 3 days, or a "valued at $3000 boudoir session" being only 30 minutes to be complaining. I don't - I consider it asking for clarification and then moving on.

      I've got 100 happy wedding clients and 100 happy boudoir clients behind me, and only 1 complaint ever - from a bride that waited a year to approve her album and then was mad because the lab took a month to print it. So ... yeah, I can pretty confidently say I have a great track record of customer service, and I do actually expect the same from someone when I hire them.

      Delete
    6. Dear anonymous people leaving comments: if you are going to be rude to someone maybe you should leave your name next time....just a thought.

      Delete
    7. Agreed -- stand up to your comment and LEAVE your name... pathetic!

      Delete
    8. I totally agree and wish posts were linked up to facebook or personal websites and tazers..... You have the balls to leave certain comments, have the balls to LEAVE your name.
      Renee Pellerine

      Delete
    9. You cheap cheap cheapo!!

      You get over $40k for you workshop and you can't even bloody feed them lunch Miss "I'm Christa Meola on a Higher Horse than Thou!"

      Really??

      You get over $40k and you cannot book a separate room for the model shoot and had to use the attendees?!?!?

      outrageous!

      You Christa Meola are greedy and based on this, are not worth $10k for a workshop.

      Delete
    10. Public Relations 101: when you fuck up, you make right on it. You don't put the blame back on the customer. You don't deny. You don't play dumb. You keep it simple: Wow, I am truly sorry that you had that bad experience. Here is your money back. And here is what I'm doing to make sure it doesn't happen again.The end. Some people sink themselves.

      Delete
    11. I am going to address some of the points in your answer here to Christine as they are simply contradictory and would like some clarification, if that is possible.

      "My team and I work hard to provide a stellar product and experience"
      WHERE WAS YOUR TEAM?

      "9 models were pre-booked and scheduled, and yes, although we did have a couple of no shows ( it was the pro agency models who cancelled with us at 1am the evening prior)"
      I have worked with agency models, personally. You made well over 10K on this workshop. If you were paying the agency what these models were worth, they would have shown up. Period. End of story. I also would like you to produce the name of the agency "your team" contacted so we can confirm a reservation of 9 models for those days. Also, a model doesn't cancel on you when you book through an agency, the agency cancels the model and because you are paying them, they find you OTHER girls to fill in. This is basic economics 1 OH 1. If you are getting paid you work. Period.

      Explain how this makes any sense economically or in a business sense if you can?

      "At no time during the workshop, did you verbally express to me dissatisfaction with any of the workshop elements, or give me an appropriate opportunity to address any of your concerns."

      I wonder here, what would have been your reaction? When you were bashing others about missing dinner/teaching times? How would you recommend that any of your attendees address you about what your syllabus says that you are going to teach, if you have already thrown out the itinerary and promised to give them a new one, and have not? When would they know they had time to talk to you? One on one for more information or to express displeasure? This is a re-occurring theme from more than just 1 attendee, which gives it credence to asking the question, because perception is reality. Especially in what is supposed to be a controlled and teaching environment.

      "What’s most confusing is that in the weeks before the workshop had started, I offered to refund you Christine, in full, to cancel you from attending since you expressed not being pleased with the workshop schedule."....
      I have to say I am completely confused by this statement. Someone asks you about the schedule, they can't be unhappy about it, it hasn't happened yet...or if they can be...how could that happen? So you offer to cancel them coming to the workshop. Financially and business wise, why would you do that? Makes no good business sense, no good client sense and no good ethical sense. If she has a legitimate question, which she did, why would you not just answer those questions? She wasn't asking for a refund, or stating she didn't want to attend. She was asking about the schedule. Sales ONE OH ONE again, don't bring up new problems or objections that your clients can feed off of to not make the sale. Either A answer their objection and over come it, or ignore their objection and get them to see the other side of it which in turns removes that form the equation.
      WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU REFUND SOMETHING TO SOMEONE WHO HASN'T ATTENDED and IS ASKING ABOUT THE SCHEDULE?

      My stomach is churning over this and frankly I am applaud. Our industry is attempting to have integrity. Our industry is about TRUST with our clients. Our industry is about collaboration with other creative people, printers, labs, PS people, marketing people, IT people. If integrity and honor are not present in any part of the world, in this industry, how can we attempt to fortify our value to our clients? Clients see this, they hear about it, they are not dumb. Bad news travels further and louder than good news.

      Christa...Just one thing I learned from a bride one time.

      People will forget your hair and your eyes and your smile and your words, over time. They will NEVER FORGET, how you made them feel.

      I look forward to your answers about the questions I posed here.

      Bill

      Delete
    12. After doing an exhaustive search of the original copies of all emails sent to me on June 14, 2012 which are still archived on my hosting company's server, I have found no emails from Christa or her staff.

      I do have an email from June 11, 2012 - the one I responded to on June 12, 2012 with the email that was the basis of this post, outlining the same items.

      Per Christa's comment above, I have written her and requested copies of all email correspondence - emails from her dated 5/10, 5/22, 6/1, 6/5, 6/11 and 6/14. I am curious to see if possibly there was a typo in my email address or some other reason why her emails did not reach me.

      Delete
  26. The fact that 3 photographers who attended this workshop has expressed similar accounts of what happened makes me believe what Christine has written as accurate.

    Let's say there were 10 attendees, that's $45,000

    - really, you couldn't afford to feed the attendees at the very minimum lunch
    - you couldn't afford to be a professional and rent a room for the sole purpose of shooting and not forcing your way to using her room... A ROOM THAT SHE PAID FOR!!!

    You told her not to attend the workshop AND didn't offer her a refund

    This type of crap needs to stop and I hope this post hits all of the blogs/twitter/facebook...

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    Replies
    1. You mean the crap of being dumb enough to pay for a $4000 workshop and then asking for a refund? Americans are such entitled people. She should stay in Texas because she sounds like a Tea Partier.

      Delete
    2. She didn't ask for a refund. What are YOU talking about? BTW... that ignorant comment shows that you are an ass!

      Delete
  27. High Five to you Christine for posting this - more reviews need to be posted and people need to stop being silent.

    If a workshop is awesome... post about it! If a workshop is shit... post about it!

    I hope it inspires the other attendees to step forward and make their experience known.

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  28. Christa, to address one other inaccuracy - your private boudoir sessions with attendees does not constitute a half day of the workshop.

    You are correct, I did not show up for my boudoir session -- I had asked repeatedly what time it was supposed to be at and where I was supposed to go. I was told it was the last one on Saturday (not given a time, mind you - just told it was the last one), but so was another attendee. We both checked our emails and Ursula had sent us both the same times.

    When I asked about Saturday plans on Friday, you said you had other plans and you were done. To be honest, by that point in time - after the rudeness of the previous 3 days and all that I had witnessed directed at myself and others - I did not want to spend more time with you. You had chosen not to teach up to that point, why did I have to ASK for instruction?

    As to me not speaking up - as I addressed a number of times in this post, I asked for a new itinerary each day. We were chastised for asking for clarification on an itinerary item. We were then told we would get a new one, and never did - so we were not left with any opportunity to know that topics weren't being covered.

    In addition, as an attendee - it is NOT my responsibility to point out to you what you promised in YOUR documentation and then make sure YOU prepare course materials to support it.

    "Christa will share in-depth info on how to work beautifully with natural light, the art of coaching & posing models, creating high-end sets & styling, creating amazing relationships with clients, pricing, post production, branding & more.”

    I took EXTENSIVE notes. NONE of those topics were covered "in-depth" at ANY time. As a paying client, I rightfully expected them to be covered, and they were not.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wow your ignorance is dumbfounding.

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  30. Sorry, the above comment was meant for the "Texans are Tea Partiers" twit.

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    Replies
    1. I'm still amused ... we've gotten to the point of political slinging here? Nice. Sorry, not a Tea Partier. And I didn't ask for a refund. Nor was one offered to me when all was said and done and I wrote and sent this review directly to Christa.

      Delete
    2. Absolutely! How dare you expect what you paid for!! You must belong to some crazy right wing nutjob conspiracy theorist party! People are idiots.

      Delete
  31. There is one deatil that really *gets* me. I just can't get past this part. You pay for this kick a** workshop, expecting so much and it was all very clear, hotel rooms for certain days and all that. I would NEVER in a million years - ever - ever - ever think that I would be asked to have MY ROOM used for the workshop sessions. This blows me away, it really does.

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    Replies
    1. That is EXACTLY what I thought. I mean SERIOUSLY!? That and having a space to do her "teaching... shit, even in her hotel room would have sufficed but NOT in a students room. For that amount of money, this is just insane!

      I don't think I would have been polite in my response, not after that amount of money. I probably would have asked "What exactly did you use our money for if not a designated space and models to shoot?"

      Delete
    2. I have updated my post because it wasn't clear - the St James is a boutique hotel and every room is decorated differently. We were told in advance that one day, we would be shooting in 3 of the rooms. (We were divided in to 3 groups to shoot.) We were offered an out if we did not want people in our room. My room was the only one with solid gray walls (instead of a patterned wallpaper.)

      I was ok with the session being in my room - I was not ok with not being told by Christa that my room had been selected as one of the three, and that I had to find that out from an attendee in passing - leaving me rushed as I made the bed, etc to clean it for the other attendees to shoot in there.

      A room should have been rented to use as a classroom for teaching purposes, instead of teaching in restaurants or the hotel bar.

      Delete
  32. Christine was not complaining she was sharing her experience...would I have considered Christa's workshop? Judging from her portfolio, probably not....not even if it was in paris....

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  33. Christine, I appreciate your honesty here. I can't imagine you would take the amount of time obviously spent to write this if it weren't true. I appreciate Christa's work tremendously. However, if I had flown all the way to Paris for a workshop, I would have expected an itinerary along with all the meals, shoots, models promised. I appreciate the guts it took to come public with this. I know it couldn't have been easy. Thank you!

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  34. Thank you for writing this. This is truly disgusting to read (re: your experience). I am disappointed and offended by her lack of professionalism and ethics in teaching a high-priced workshop.

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  35. Wow I'm appalled and utterly speechless. Thank you for bringing this to light.

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  36. Not only do I believe Christine whole heartily for everything she has written, I can imagine Christa Meola doing each and every one of those things with bi-polar attitudes. I have had first hand experience dealing with Christa’s attitude and rudeness. She has even gone as far as insulting the Boudoir Diva’s and Sue Bryce during a consultation with other photographers. That was so uncomfortable to be around considering the person I looked up to online was NOT the same person who was sitting in front of me. Her online persona comes off as friendly, cheerful, approachable and bubbly, but this is not the case. Did you get the chance to watch her on CreativeLIVE and how she snapped at each one of her guests as they tried to ask her questions and then blew them off. Watch her laugh and you can see how fake it is. She even says she’s a “hustler” and that known as the best because she SAYS she’s the best. She only posts images of models on her website so you never get a chance to see what REAL women look like. If an amateur photographer had models to shoot all day, their images would look just as great. The Christa I fell in love with and admired online is not the same...she’s damn good at marketing and branding...THAT’s for sure! I’m sorry you had this experience.......and it’s only a matter of time before more people speak up. And making you use YOUR room for the shoots......WOW!

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  37. Unbelievable! I would be very furious as well Christine. Our Boudoir group on Facebook watched Christa's CL weekend and we were floored at how rude and condescending she was. I tell you this... it would be a cold day in HELL if anyone was rude like that to me and didn't get anything back in return. A cold day in hell.

    The great thing about Social Media, is that everyone will know about your review. It WILL go viral. "Rockstar" Photographers in this industry can't pull the wool over our eyes... and if they try, they will get burned. Time and time again. This isn't the first review I've read about a mentoring session gone bad and I'm sure this won't be the last time either... unfortunately. I appreciate your honesty and your courage to write your review.

    Oh and does her rebuttal surprise me? No. Condescending and rude.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'm writing anonymously because I don't want to be on the receiving end of the Christa Meola nastiness. I've spent time socially around her and watched her deride people, from being outright nasty about photographers' work to their faces without knowing them personally, to bragging wildly about her business success, to being snotty and cruel to people she'd just met for the first time. I was stunned that someone so personally rude and awful could have ANYONE learning from her, no matter how good her work. This review is right in line with the monstrously rude person I had the misfortune of being in the same social space with.

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  39. We need to stand up to bullies, not hide from them. If anyone truely treats people as is posted here, PLEASE post your names and speak up, so all others will too. This is what we teach our little kids yet if we don't as adults how do we expect them to stand up to bullies?

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  40. Good for you for writing about this. I attend several workshops a year but haven't had any really bad experiences. I know it was difficult for you to blog this but it is important for people to speak out when they believe they have been taken advantage of as it seems you and your workshop group have.

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  41. http://www.joelenemillsphotography.ca/blog/192.168.30.127/2012/08/06/with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility/

    I love that we are now seeing more posts about things like this so we CAN do our homework before we give away our money.
    Thanks to ALL who help by posting good reviews, both *nice* and not so nice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing this post. I have re-shared it, and this review, with a group on Facebook.

      Delete
  42. Maybe the resulting backlash of being treated badly by Ms. Meola isn't worth sharing our names.

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    Replies
    1. I am proof that pissing off a Photography "Leader" won't be the death of you or your business. So long as you speak the truth and own it, there is nothing to be ashamed of. If she seeks some sort of petty retaliation that's on her and not on you and so long as she's not in your market I can't see how this could remotely affect your business... just your karma.

      I'm proud of Christine for posting this honest review and I hope that others are inspired by her to do the same!

      Delete
  43. Thank you for writing this review. I am sorry your experience was bad and that your hopes were dashed. I am sure that the life lesson you experienced had a value that will benefit you in the future. Photographers need to be brave and honestly review workshops. I know I have wasted my time and money on workshops that were horrible. I wish I had read a review before I wasted money on those workshops.

    I watched Christa on CL live and was FLOORED by her attitude. She is a bit cocky and belittled the crew which is something I could never stand to be around. I now have even less respect (if that is possible) for this woman. So sad.

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  44. How very sad that someone would do something like this. I hate to think that there are people like this in the world. I am sorry you had to experience this.

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  45. I wonder how many workshops Chase Jarvis, Joe Mcnally, Zack Arias, Art Wolf, David Hobby, and the rest of All-star social media photographers went to before becoming famous...I'm going to guess few to none. Why? Because doers do.

    Somehow, there is a belief now that in order to become a good photographer, part of "paying your dues" is spending tons of money on workshops. I know people who have gone to workshops for 3 years and have all kinds of pretty pictures in their portfolios, but have never led a shoot on their own. Why?

    Because workshops don't prepare you for the real world. They're social events. They're money making opportunities for those hosting the workshop. If you feel the need to spend $4000 on a workshop, it's time to pick a career path.

    Sooo in my humble opinion as internet anonymous guy, both parties seem to got what they deserved. The workshop person for going overboard with the "I'm a master photo goddess" attitude and this lady for expecting the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need to get off the net dude.
      Because you make zero sense.

      If you go buy a car for $40k, and you expect your car to have x,y, and z upgrades....will you not kick up a stink when you discover that there are no upgrades but you paid for them?

      Same thing. People go to workshops to learn different techniques, to get away and to socialize/network.

      Anonymous the 3rd lol


      ;)

      Delete
    2. Anonymous - just to be clear - I did not expect "the world". I expected her to teach what she said she was going to be teaching.

      I've photographed 100+ boudoir clients in the past 4 years, in addition to running a full time wedding business. I *am* a doer. I went to take some time to focus on my business and take it to another level - myself. I didn't expect that handed to me. I had every intention of putting in a lot of work - and have, on my own, in the past 3 months. With no help from the workshop.

      Zack Arias went to school for photography, and had a great deal of training. He will be the first to day this. I can't speak to all the others listed, but I have heard Zack's story back when I attended OneLight in 2007.

      Delete
    3. School is a bit different. You pay tuition, show up every day, have assignments and they give you a piece of paper that says "you're a photographer!"..still doesn't mean you are one.

      I just don't think there is that much value in formal education in photography beyond the basics because there are so many self taught photographers who completely blow away the formally trained ones. I'd prefer my doctors to go to med school, but photographers - only the work matters.

      On yet another rant, isn't it dishonest to put pictures taken at a workshop in one's portfolio? After all, you didn't pick the place, the model, or the concept and there are a dozen others with the exact same picture...

      Delete
    4. To answer your question, no, it is not dishonest, and why the heck would it be dishonest to use images from a workshop in a portfolio? If you gave 10 people a camera and told them to each take some images of a model I can guarantee you that all ten people will have totally different images. Sure the model(professional or not)may be posed the same in some but the images will be different, exposures will be different, angles will be different, post processing will be different etc... So I just don't see the logic in your comment? If YOU took the picture and put it in YOUR portfolio then it is 100% your work despite someone else choosing the location and subject.

      Delete
    5. In regards to workshop photos I think it's incredibly dishonest to pass the photos off as paying clients in your portfolio. I have seen tons of photographers go to workshops and create stunning images that someone else set up for them and pop them into their portfolios leading potential clients to believe that the photographer can recreate similar images. Depends on the workshop situation of course, but it happens often. As an attendee, in my opinion, it's your obligation to note somewhere that the photos where taken in a workshop setting. Just my .02

      Delete
    6. I agree with Erin and have for years taken issue with workshop photos being in a portfolio without disclosing that they are from a workshop. When and if I blog photos from a workshop it is very clearly stated that that is where it came from, repeatedly.

      I also do not post model images, as I've only worked with "models" in Paris. All of the images on my website are real clients who paid me.

      None of my photographs from Paris are posted online. When & if I do post any, they will be ones that I had complete control over the pose myself, and ones I could absolutely recreate in my own studio setting.

      I did not go to Paris to build a portfolio. I did go to learn more about photographing Fine Art Nudes, but only one nude model was provided.

      Delete
    7. I don't believe its dishonest if it clearly states that they are workshop photos....

      Delete
    8. I completely agree with Anonymous above on the workshop point. Glad to see others agreeing with that too. Not only is it dishonest to pass off workshop photos as your own, but it is also incredibly dishonest to pass off images of models as clients....especially with boudoir photography!

      It's refreshing to see some of you calling out dishonesty and utter bullshit in an industry that seems to be riddled with lies.

      Delete
    9. For the record, I have never actually been to a workshop and in my previous comment about it not being dishonest... that was assuming they weren't being passed off as clients. Saying that models or workshop photos are clients IS dishonest, but I still don't think using those photos in a portfolio is, unless, as stated, you are claiming they are clients.

      Delete
  46. I know Christine in real life and she is very honest and straight forward. This review seemed very balanced and thoughtful. And from my very brief experience meeting Christa I don't doubt it for a second. Christa was VERY rude to me when I approached her at a photog social gathering at WPPI 2011. She seemed to have a very giant EGO. Good on your Christine for putting yourself out there and bringing some credibility to the industry.

    ReplyDelete
  47. You cheap cheap cheapo!!

    You get over $40k for you workshop and you can't even bloody feed them lunch Miss "I'm Christa Meola on a Higher Horse than Thou!"

    Really?

    You get over $40k and you cannot book a separate room for the model shoot and had to use the attendees?!?!?

    outrageous!

    You Christa Meola are greedy and based on this, are not worth $10k for a workshop.

    Thank you for the review!

    ReplyDelete
  48. I encourage everyone to repost this.

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  49. I can only imagine your disappointment Christine! After reading this review and some of the comments, i am almost embarrassed to think that i actually, at one time, promoted her workshop on my forum! Also, I think it is EXTREMELY misleading for photographers to have only models or set ups from workshops on their website - its cheating, isnt it? Joe public doesnt know the difference and will pretty much expect the same from their session or their wedding and will probably end up disappointed and wondering, WTH happened! It took guts and lots of bravery to post this and i commend you for doing so. Hopefully it will either be taken constructively (although the likelihood of this happening after reading her comment is pretty low) or she will realize that NOT ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE TEACHERS!!! If anything, she needs to reimburse you for your room expenses because using a student's room for teaching purposes is unforgiveable, i mean seriously, how cheap can someone be? I have been disappointed with almost ALL industry leaders in the game of photography but now, i am saddened.

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  50. Thank you Christine!!!

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  51. I am very sad to read what happened to you Christine and displeased by the total lack of professionalism a "big name" as Christa has shown to the world making us all look stupid. We trust those big names and we spend a lot of money to learn from them because they are what is perceived to be the best. Learning and doing is what we do for all our life as photographers and we take people who "apparently" made it as our point of reference. At least is what I do because naively enough I have always believed that if people are successful is because they give something extra to the world.
    Christa's work is very good but some people should just be photographers and not teachers because they are not willing to share their experience. I must admit that already when I watched her "teaching" at CL I changed my mind on her. Especially from day 2 she was rude, unprepared, bored, bossy, almost nasty at times and ready to blame whoever when things turned out not the right way. She made a big mistake accepting to be there because she showed to the industry that she does not bring any valuable knowledge to the table and did not want to share any information. Especially when it came to talking about business or posing women which is normally what photographers are after she was vague and condescending. The very principle of CL is to make education accessible to the mass at a low cost to change the industry status quo but she clearly does not believe in this approach. Actually apparently she does the opposite: she asks for a lot of money and she gives very little in return if anything at all.
    As I always think good of anyone I genuinely thought that maybe she was nervous but I happen to know some of the people at CL and nobody was happy with her attitude. Nobody.
    People might argue that perception is a personal thing and Christine could have felt victimized but I truly believe in what she says and I think she has been very brave for posting this extensive review for everybody to see and judge for themselves. From my point of view I know it maybe a small detail but the sole fact that during workshop time Christa opted to go for a massage is outrageous. That shows how interested - NOT - was in the people who believed and invested in her and tells me everything I need to know.

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  52. Thank you so much for your honesty and for putting this out there--it couldn't have been an easy thing to do.

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  53. I think You should be able to get all Your money back from her. There should be some organ that take care of the customers, like a warranty for every electronic thing.

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  54. I don't know christa personally but have a number of interactions with her and they've been nothing but positive and polite. I did the online workshop and bought the CL workshop and didn't get the sense at all that she was egotistical. I can't get past the personal attacks since it feels a bit like an online lynching.

    Im sure she made money on it but think about what it cost her to put together. Her time is money just like ours and she deserves to paid well given her talent. For the expense involved you have to do your homework to make sure it's a good fit. It doesn't sound like that happened.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erik, her online workshop (which is based on Marie Forleo's model, Rich, Happy & Hot B-School - a marketer, not a photographer) was fine. Viewing it made me excited about going to Paris, because I expected that level of education, only magnified because it was a small, intimate group of her mentoring clients, really focused on our business.

      Had she made any true effort to teach, to come through on what was promised the paragraphs I quoted from her materials, and not been as rude to so many people - my review would have been different.

      I did research her before I applied for her mentoring program (and before I purchased her online workshop on last year's Black Friday sale) and was confident at that point in my purchase. None of it started to fall apart until I questioned things 3 weeks in advance, and the it all crumbled in Paris as essentially none of the promised business materials were delivered, in addition to no coaching on shoots. Well, you've read all of that above, I won't go on...

      I have no problem with her making a profit off the workshop. I have no problem with workshops - I've attended several over the past 5 years. Her time is valuable. I've hosted workshops for other photographers when they came through my town, and I know what it takes to pull them off behind the scenes - it isn't easy.

      I do have a problem with people promising content and committing to sessions and then not following through. The documentation promoting it was created by her - it was not our responsibility to ask her to teach what she promised.

      Delete
  55. Wow! I feel for you & your experience. I've read all of the comments (most of you anonymous posters obviously cannot read let alone comprehend the words you read therefore shouldn't waste your time posting anonymous comments that amount up to nothing more than mindless dribble). Your review is very tactful & professional. I didn't get a hint of disrespect or "whinyness" from what I read. If you pay $4k for x, y, z then that is exactly what should be delivered. Christa not taking the time to teach, using your hotel room that YOU paid for (which did anyone else notice she totally disregarded most of the review), candidly talking about a $300 panty purchase when you purposely refuse to fork out money on your own teaching room, shaming attendees (did you forget those attendees buttered your bread), & publicly outing the attendees. SHAME ON YOU CHRISTA!! Honestly, you should be very happy Christine & the others have not brought a lawsuit against you for a full refund as well as lost wages for attending such an unprepared ego fest where the attendees obviously did not get anywhere near what they were promised. After reading your pathetic response Christa, I wouldn't be surprised to hear of a lawsuit. You deserve it. Again, with Christine having items in writing as well as other attendees dropping out we still don't see Christa 'defending' herself. She might as well be anonymous (lol she just might be).

    Christine, I applaud you for standing up. Personally, I would be demanding a full refund if not taking it a step further & suing. You got a very raw deal here & Christa needs to be brought down a couple notches. I watched most of her CL performance & lost ALL respect for her. She joked how much time she spent shooting in auto & IMO she probably still does. She spent the entire time relying on John to tell her settings, move lighting to his liking, gave no direction, was rude to every model, ignored half the questions from those that won a chance to be there live, was arrogant, & just plain actes clueless. I can't imagine her being any different in any other facet of her life. Just sad she feels the need to doop people.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Erik wa blinded by Christa. Lol. Clearly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? Blinded? I actually took her information, applied it to my business, and made a lot of money as a result. I prefer to think that I'm smart enough to take advantage of the information that's presented to me rather than complain about personality differences.

      What amazes me is that she gained popularity though the quality of her work and other photographers don't get it. It's not not about printed price lists, swearing, hotel rooms or anything else. Would people complain about these things if they took a workshop with Annie Liebovitz? Probably not.

      And if you didn't realize you were spending that money just for the chance to exchange ideas with her, you've missed the point. I had profs in college who were impossible to work with but I learned a ton from them. Its just my solitary opinion apparently, but I think she does great work and has changed how I think about photographing women and photography in general. Even with this review I would still have loved to have been part to it.

      Delete
    2. Erik, I've learned the most over the years that were difficult to work with. There is a difference between what you are describing and being rude though.

      But my post here is NOT about complaining about personality differences, and other than the times that she was condescending to me directly, I did not mention personality at all. As I said above, from the online workshop I only anticipated learning more, and I was excited about the opportunity.

      The post *IS* about the fact that she did not cover any of the material she committed to covering. She did not teach in Paris. That is entirely where the fault lies for me. Since she herself wrote the promotion documents, at no time should I or any of the other attendees have had to ask her to teach what she said she would be teaching and what we expected to learn.

      That lack of teaching and the bait & switch of the "valued at $3000 boudoir session" - which was a 30 minute mini session instead, not her $3000 session - are the entire foundation of this post. Please note - I did not expect products to be a part of that value, but because I did her online workshop, I expected it to be the full session experience that she describes. I planned to pay for products separately as needed.

      She made promises. She did not deliver on them. Personality is not an issue in that.

      Delete
    3. Erik, I left out a key item. We were sold a 5 Day workshop. It was 3 days. NOT 5. (3.5 days if you're generous and include the first evening.)

      So the key points:
      - 3 days, not 5.
      - Only hotel costs were covered, not meal costs as stated in her literature about the workshop.
      - 7 models, only 1 Nude model, 4 fully clothed in street attire models - for a Fine Art NUDE & boudoir workshop
      - No teaching time, did not cover the materials she said she would be covering, had no presentations prepared for teaching them to us, and no "classroom" room for us to learn in.
      - Sold a "valued at $3000" boudoir session, delivered a 30 minute mini session instead of her $3000 session.

      Delete
  57. Christine. I'm glad you posted this. Just like we chide the public that "everyone thinks they are a photographer", the same goes for photographers, "everyone thinks they can teach a workshop". What happens is you get poor teaching poorly...and the industry thinks that is the standard for artistry. I will be celebrating 10 years in business in 2013 and I have chosen not to hold workshops because rather than have people copying what I do, I'd rather they reach deep down within and bring out what THEY can uniquely do. I don't think attacks on Christine is fair. She was paying for something she thought would be delivered. Christa sounds like a con-artist. To the "anonymous" attacker toward Christine - grow a pair if you are going to leave comments like that. I hope you find happiness in your life.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I hope that people from all levels of photography do not think that this sort of thing is "usual" at workshops.

    As a former workshop instructor, I can attest to the power of a well run workshop, and can imagine the disaster of a poorly done workshop. I received overwhelming good response from my workshops, but in all truth, you cannot please everyone,

    There are many great workshops out there, and - as seen above - some terrible ones as well.

    I am totally on board with calling out those who do not live up to the 'buzz' of the workshop, and I do believe that the advance materials sent would possibly be considered a contract. If 'X' was promised, and 'X' didn't happen, it would be a breach of contract. (Not a lawyer.)

    But to paint all workshops as being worthless is also totally wrong. A good workshop experience is one where a student can have undivided attention to the work at hand. A good workshop can help a student go from A-D in a faster, well understood manner.

    Workshops are an opportunity for learning that can be unmatched.

    They can also be unmitigated disasters.

    Very sorry for this to have happened, but I do think that to paint ALL workshops with this brush is a dis-service to anyone who wants to consider going to one.

    ALWAYS do due diligence. Contact former students, get absolute clarification and be vocal - NEVER be intimidated when you feel you are being ripped off.

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    Replies
    1. Don, you have a long track record of offering solid fundamental at your workshops and both your Creative Live presentations are a testimony to that.

      Its funny, I initially wasn't going to watch your CL until I meet two people that attended your Baltimore seminar last year before it aired. They both raved about it and challenged me to watch it and not gain new knowledge. I must say I learned several things from your presentation (the rope "meter" especially stands out) and when someone new asks me about lighting, I tell them to purchase your CL presentation as a very accessible and easy to understand star to lighting.

      You offered, as you describe a good workshop.

      Delete
    2. Don, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have attended several AWESOME workshops, which have truly helped my business grow. This was the most expensive - but for hotels & meals included and 5 days in Paris, I could justify the extra expense. (Of course, meals were not included as I covered above.)

      I have nothing but great things to say about workshops as a whole, as long as they are run well. As you observed, they can help you learn so much. I'm sure I will be attending more of them in the future!

      Delete
  59. New Flash. The "Anonymous" poster (I mean besides me:) is the same crook who ran the workshop.

    Thanks for sharing this Christine. Get the word out about these phonies that just want to scam you for your money

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  60. I've heard from a couple of other girls from this now infamous Paris workshop. I'm pretty surprised that none of you are asking for full refunds outright. You are being way too lenient in my opinion. Good for you for speaking up!

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  61. I, too am sorry to hear you had this experience. I had a $6000 workshop experience in France (back in 2010) that was the opposite of this. I wrote a few blog posts about my experience, and you make me want to write more....of the glowing kind....to support a woman who gave so much at a workshop that was off the charts inspiring for me.

    I can FEEL how hard it was, Christine, for you to write this review. Very brave indeed. I am impressed by the way you have made such a factual, rather than emotional, review.

    I am quite shocked by the facts, but grateful to hear them, both as a regular workshop attendee, and as a photographer who thinks about possibly teaching one day. I do know from experience that not all good photographers are good teachers, and vice versa. To find both in one person can be rare.

    This was extremely thorough, and helpful. We are all accountable to our clients....and sometimes those clients are also photographers in our industry. Sharing this was clearly not easy for you.

    I know we all try to keep things positive as much as possible, and when they go badly, most of us just keep quiet, or share privately in small circles. Then sometimes you have to speak your truth and share your experience as a teaching tool for others.

    Christine, I'm glad you spoke your truth in a civilized, professional way, without mudslinging and abusive language (I wish I could say the same for all the people commenting, though I notice people who use their names tend to be more polite than those who don't).

    From the comments I understand you kept quiet for a long time. I think what you shared was a service to many....to fellow photographers who go to workshops, to those who consider teaching, and perhaps even to Christa herself, who I suspect will learn a lot from this experience.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Tanya!

      Did you attend a workshop with Christa in 2010? Or with someone else in Paris in 2010?

      Delete
    2. Not Christa's. I went to the workshop of Elizabeth Messina (with Leah MacDonald) in Poitiers, not Paris. She was inspiring and authentic. I loved that workshop experience, and the people I met as a result.

      I considered Christa's workshop in Italy, but at the time, she seemed like a virtual unknown charging a lot of money. I took her online $600 workshop instead (because I was intrigued by how a photographer I never heard of could charge $600 for an online workshop!)

      I am grateful she led me to Marie Forleo and some other truly incredible women I now call my friends.

      But honestly, if I want a great workshop, I go to Santa Fe because the people they work with are reliably great. They really put teaching first.

      Elizabeth Opalenik is another favorite of mine.

      Delete
  62. I think this is absolutely fabulous that you have refused to keep quiet about her unprofessionalism - well done on your strength and concise account!!

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  63. Christine, thank you for being courageous and posting this. It does take a lot of guts to do so.

    I have never been to the private one on one workshops, but I have taken an online one. And to me $600 was a lot of money because I am a beginner, but I still went ahead hoping to get value out of it + the add was structured in such a way that it was very clearly implied that each of us will get a posing book, which later on became a draw item.

    So long story short, although the site had quite a bit of useful information what irked me the most is her rudeness in the member forum and on call while she was going through peoples websites and advising them on the changes, lots of swear words during the calls....can't stand it, sorry...very unprofessional. Also the workshop was pretty much designed as blog posts describing the shoots + behind the scenes videos (that I am sure reposted again and again and again) in addition to the member only forum. The content is released once a week (roughly 6 sections) and all information posted stays up for a little over 6 weeks, after that your log in terminates and you loose any access and hence the information you paid for.

    Also, I found that the most value I had in that workshop was actually the forum where all photographers were sharing their experience and tips and tricks. Christa was participating at the beginning, trying to answer all of the questions that people were raising, but then was participating less and less and disappeared completely closer to the end of the course and we were self-helping each other answering questions and addressing issues. What a great material for the next book, right? Creative Live workshop contains pretty much all of the information that is given in the private online workshop and although I believe it does provide value I don't believe it provides the in depth value and mentoring as it is advertised....

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  64. THANK YOU for sharing the experience you had with Christa Meola!

    I have been a fan of her work for awhile now and actually admired the way she presented herself ONLINE to the public eye. I've always had this preconceived notion that she was this charming, bubbly person with a sailors mouth and that if I ever had the chance to meet her myself, we would get along so great because I have the same personality. Now I'm not so sure....as it sounds as if she hardly gets along with anyone at all. ((finger on my nose making a pig snout))

    Reading what you have said about her and your experience, I am totally appalled by her actions. I would NEVER, in a million years, treat people the way you are describing she treated you workshop attendees. She doesn't sound like a humble person at all.

    And to point out that the workshop didn't go as planned is just WAY unprofessional and not the kind of business woman as I took her to be. I am SO glad that I actually took the time to read through this post and see that she is NOT the kind of person that I once thought she was. I used to look up to her and want to be successful just like her.....but I now I see that she makes her success by walking all over people.....and I don't want to be that kind of person!

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  65. Christine,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Christa's workshop. Along with the many other posters here, I too was taken a back with the few minutes of her CL workshop that I watched, and was surprised at her crudeness and lack of professionalism, especially in front of a public audience like CL. Your findings with her and her workshop don't surprise me, and I'm certain everyone will think twice before ever signing up with her.

    I'm sorry for your experience, but thank you for sharing it with the rest of the photographic community. I'm certain your helpfulness will be rewarded with an awesome workshop/class somewhere down the line to make up for this disaster.

    All the best,

    Mike P.

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  66. This really infuriates me! There are SOOOOO many things wrong with this senario, it's just baffling! I just don't understand how some people can be so rude and take advantage of others in this way.
    Christine, I'm really sorry you had to go through this and I hope no one else ever has to because of your courage to speak up.
    Sounds like Christa really needs to attend a workshop on etiquette, kindness and customer service!

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  67. I decided to keep it anonymous just because I'm not feeling very brave today. But I watched Christa on Creative Live and decided NOT to purchase the course after watching it because NONE of the promised marketing or business information was discussed. Over those 3 days at the CL workshop, I listened to Christa contradict herself many, many times. Changing her answers from one day to the next, I started to think "Does she not remember what she said yesterday?" And then there was the intentional vagueness of some of her answers. During the CL she pretty much refused to discuss her pricing, even when the workshop attendees tried to ask questions, she refused to share any details that would be helpful... one attendee asked her what was included (or what should be included) in a top level package (such as Christa's $3,000 package). Christa literally said "You want to offer your best stuff". She was unhelpful when questions came up about Christa's in-person sales appointments, she claimed she NEVER, EVER proofs photos online, only in person. When an attendee asked her what happens if the client is from out of town and can't return for a sales appointment, Christa claimed she makes it work with all her clients and every single one of them comes for an in-person sales appointment. Recently on one of her boudoir calls, she admitted that if they buy a package from her, she is happy with that and will proof their photos online! She only offers ONE package and it costs $3,000! This is a huge contradiction and it makes no sense that she answer questions so definitively, yet has a completely different response the next time she is asked! I paid $60 to see her in-person at WPPI 2011 in Las Vegas. I wish I could ask for my money back. She showed a slide show of images she took at the CL workshop and other images from her blog and that was pretty much it. I tried to ask about her pricing and how she packages her products, as this is something I really wanted to talk to her about at the time. She brushed my questions off... pretty much moving on to the next person right away, making me feel as if my question was almost inappropriate somehow. I left feeling intimidated by her and thinking I just wasted $60 of my hard earned money. At this point I was annoyed with how secretive she was being in regards to her business, marketing and pricing methods. So I called her up and pretended to be an interested client (if you watched her CL workshop, she actually SAID to do this, not to her of course, but other photographers, including leaving out the fact that you are a photographer). So I didn't feel too bad about lying to get the information I wanted. She emailed me her price list finally! And guess what folks... she doesn't have one! She literally just copies and pastes text into an email. She charges $3,000 for a session and hasn't even bothered to design anything. No wonder she isn't sharing her business secrets, she is literally putting zero effort into some major areas that she claims she is an expert in!

    $3300
    Pre-Session Planning and Consultation
    Relaxed Session Time, no time limit
    On-location Photography, within Manhattan
    Three looks (wardrobe change)
    5x5 Custom Album with 16 photographs
    Full Professional Retouching service
    In Person Happy Hour Preview Session of your Pics
    Super Fast turnaround - you'll review your images before your flight home!

    Additional...
    Additional 15 images $700
    Entire Session on CD $1200
    Travel 1 hr outside Manhattan $500
    Additional location within Manhattan $450
    Additional looks, sets, or wardrobe changes $195
    Upgrade Album to 8x8 $500
    Upgrade Album to 10x10 $900
    Add pages to Album, $95 for 2

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    1. WOW, I just don't understand how she has ANY paying clients. Her work isn't that spectacular! It's not bad, but she's not one of the best by far!

      Delete
    2. That session there? THAT was what I was expecting for my "valued at $3000" session. I even asked before the trip that if she needed to do it on Sunday, because I was staying in Paris a few days longer, she could. I shopped for 3 looks, I expected a pre-planning session, no time limit - the works. Because this is what I knew your $3000 session to be.

      Now you can imagine my surprise and, to be honest, anger when I got a message 3 weeks before the workshop - after our money was paid and our plane tickets were bought (in addition to all of my other travel arrangements for afterwards) - that our sessions were only 30 minutes long! I even asked, "Ohhhh... so the workshop attendees get a 30 minute session, but the mentoring clients get a full one?" and Christa was taken aback by the question and said no - no - we all got 30 minute sessions.

      Thus the first of many disconnects between what she said in her mentoring documents and what she actually provided.

      Delete
    3. So Christine, for $3,000 she was graciously offering half an hour shoot for you + any products to be purchased a la carte and $1000 upgrade for an additional half an hour.....That's just so unspeakable.....compared to what she offers regularly...So sad....karma will definitely find a way to set everything straight...All of you girls should get together and get a group refund and contact a lawyer that will get things moving faster. Good luck and thank you for your time, effort and putting yourself out in the open like this....

      Delete
  68. I applied for her mentorship program, but after seeing her price list and meeting her in-person, I didn't feel like she would be honest or helpful enough for the VERY large fee she wanted to charge. Especially after I emailed her asking about the workshop in Paris. I'm supposed to hand over $4,500, but literally she had only written a paragraph on what the Paris retreat would consist of. I emailed asking her for more details on the trip and again I got super vague answers. She couldn't tell me where we would be staying, what locations we would be shooting, how many models, she had no specifics at all. I didn't think I could "go with the flow" when it came to not having details on such an expensive trip. I need to know what hotel so I can look it up online and find out if I even want to stay there and check the overall value of the trip against her workshop fee. Because I had no way of even calculating the value of the trip, I had to pass and move on. Thank you for the review Christine, I'm sorry you didn't have the opportunity to find out what a scam it was until it was too late.

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  69. Proves that being an adequate teacher is MORE than just what you KNOW. I've attended a variety of 2-5 day workshops. When the instructors/staff have an attitude of service, joy, and respect, it SHOWS. I'm sorry to hear it was that mishandled!

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  70. Thank you to so many of you for your overwhelming positive comments, your emails & phone calls to me privately, and so much more. I don't want to clutter the comments responding to each post here, but I did want you to know - I truly appreciate it.

    I say that as well for some of the other Paris Workshop attendees - I know that they have been reading this as well, and it has helped them too.

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  71. http://79.170.44.82/ibecks.com/?p=118

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  72. Hey Christine,

    Did any of the other attendees blog about this as well by chance? I would LOVE to hear their thoughts as well.

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    Replies
    1. For their own personal reasons, they have not yet. I believe some are considering it, but I can not speak for them. When & if they do, I will update my post with links to theirs.

      Delete
  73. LOL... I have to laugh at you all.

    I've been shooting true glamour and boudoir since 1986. You all use the "empowering women" routine to prey on your sisters by joining this money grab. You all are terrible photographers and you use your marketing BS to lure these women in.

    Now you're pissed that you got suckered by one of the lead workshop con artists????

    You deserve it!

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    Replies
    1. and your name is.... oh, ANONYMOUS!!!

      Delete
    2. I think women are coming to the new boudoir photographers not because of marketing bs, but because they want the new version of boudoir, not the outdated 80's version. Wow, someone sounds a little bitter!

      Delete
    3. Since 1986? You sound like a creep. Your probably some old perv and are jealous. Maybe you should retire.

      Delete
    4. I'm not sure why you seem to think that the empowering "routine" is just a bait. I've actually taken boudoir photos and it IS empowering. What's your stance on boudoir then?

      Additionally, who are you to say we are all terrible (also, *why* are we "terrible")? Back your words up by posting your portfolio. Just because you've been shooting since 86 does not make you a great photographer.

      Lastly, don't victim blame/shame. Would you tell a woman who's been raped that she deserved it? I would hope not.

      Delete
  74. Christine, I'd like to add my thanks, as well. I used to think very highly of Christa, and I was very sad when she didn't choose me for CL or the Mentorship program. I'm not sad any more, except for you and the other attendees, and I'm very grateful now to Christa, for NOT picking me.

    Personally, I think you and the other attendees all deserve a large portion of your money back, if not a full refund. Who do you report this sort of thing to? I mean,it's false advertising, bait and switch—call it what you will, it's fraud—and isn't that illegal?

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  75. I think the bottom line here is this, anyone who spends that kind of money and thinks they'll go to the "next level" because they did, needs to rethink their career. As for the so called teacher, she sounds like a hack criminal that needs to be investigated and then locked up. Her crime? Ripping desperate people off!

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  76. Having run a few workshops of my own, I know that nothing every goes completely to plan, but if your attendees walk away feeling cheated ... well I'd feel personally responsible for that. I would never just let that lie and I'd do everything I could to fix the issue.

    The fact that Christa has no interest in doing this speaks volumes about her character.

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  77. If it makes anyone feel better, I have never heard of Christa!!! I guess she is a legend in her own mind! Lol!

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  78. Oh Christine!!! I am so sorry this happened to you.
    Take one of the Santa Fe workshops http://www.santafeworkshops.com/ I had an amazing time in Alan Thorntons class! I've also taken really amazing workshops with Bobbi Lane & Dawoud Bey. Phil Hawkins is amazing if you enjoy landscapes. Having an instructor that loves what they create AND loves teaching and sharing of their knowledge just makes for such an incredible experience. Your experience with Christy is just distasteful! sooo sad!!! I hope you can take a wonderful class with a photographer that cares SOON.

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  79. I am proud of you for standing up and voicing what happened at the workshop. Having attended 3 very well run workshops with you, I know how disappointed you were with how poorly this one was executed. Having been on the phone with you for hours while you were still in Paris, I also know how frustrated you were for the other attendees that had put so much on the line to be there and the personal details that you left out. The way you and the other attendees were treated was appalling. I hope the others will speak up to their experiences as well.

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  80. I wa there at the Paris workshop and can vogue for Christine. We were all disappointed in varying degrees...it was nothing like what was outlined when we signed up. Christine was very brave to speak out, I give her credit. We all just want to move beyond this. I do feel bad for Christa, I don't know why. I guess I want to believe it wasn't intentional and that she is a good person. I have made peace with it all and don't harbor I'll feelings towards Ms. Meola. I do believe we have all learned from this experience, even if it isn't what we signed up for.

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  81. I cannot even believe anyone would charge that rate for any kind of seminar. We are in an age where photographers are the new snake oil salespeople.

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  82. Thank you, Christine for your very accurate and truthful review of Christa Meola's Paris "workshop" that we regrettably attended this past May.

    Since your review, I see that Christa has decided to stop holding workshops so you have already made a very positive impact. My feelings of the workshop are no different and possibly even more negative than yours. Perhaps I just had too high of hopes in expecting to actually learn something about boudoir photography from a $4500 workshop held by a pseudo industry expert, or in expecting models who were properly styled as in her online portfolio as well as the quantity of models that she proudly boasted she would have when speaking of the workshop during her Creative Live session. I know my heart sank in just the first 10 minutes of my meeting Christa during my mini boudoir shoot prior to the workshop, when she asked if anyone knew how to review and then zoom in on the images on her new 5D MIII, something that even my assistants back home figured out within just a few seconds of holding the MIII. Christine's, Tricia's and Sigrid's reviews already go in detail about the aspects of the course that were not delivered (basically everything that was promised), so I will refrain from repeating their very truthful comments, even though there are many, many more disappointing points I can add there.

    I would like to touch on an aspect that completely made me lose trust in and respect for Christa as a person, not just photographer, but her as a human being, and that is in how she treats others. From our initial meeting onwards, I had heard Christa make negative and rude comments about the other attendees, including one of her hired personal assistants, I have heard her blame others for her failures and own mistakes, shove off her responsibility to others, watched her cut off, shut up and "scold" other attendees while pointing her finger/hand in their faces in a very rude and patronizing manner, heard her mumble comments under her breath which she would not repeat when asked to do so, as well as watched at least 3 attendees cry mainly due to the rude treatment we experienced from her. Perhaps I should have been one of her drinking buddies on the trip, I may have then have had the pleasant experience that probably 1-2 others out of the class of 13 had. Those 1-2 others might still agree that they did not have an entirely perfect experience however. The only plus in terms of education from the workshop was our guest speaker, Carla Coulson, but sadly even she ended up being a victim of Christa's gossip by being accused of ripping off Christa's website. The most positive experience out of all of this was when I finally received my boudoir images, where I received such a great boost of confidence after viewing the very average and non-creative images of myself taken by an expert boudoir photographer with a published book. Christa, there was absolutely zero effort put in the shoot by you, as evident by the images that I ended up asking you to delete. If anything, I learnt that if you can charge 3K for images like that, then anyone can really. I now see that unfortunately for many photographers, their success has everything to do with marketing, and not in delivering a promised product of quality.

    In short, Christa Meola needs to learn how to be a better person, and to not be what she keeps rambling on she hates in others: rude, late and ungrateful. I once read something by Jerry Ghionis that just stuck in my head...To be a better photographer, first be a better person. Christa, for your own sake and for the sake of your disappointed workshop attendees, please start by giving a GENUINE and HEART FELT apology for your rude and disrespectful behaviour as well as for not fullfilling what you proposed to teach in Paris. If you were honest, you'd also offer a refund for an undelivered promise. And please don't reply accusing me of never telling you how I felt as you did with others, when you simply did not show any concern at all when I did.

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  83. Since everyone seems to be saying what I was thinking already (this workshop was messed UP and Christine, you are brave and we appreciate you writing this), I'll point something else out... Cheistine, I really appreciate that you're keeping it so classy in the comments. Although you are upset, you don't resort to a *personal* attack or mud-slinging, just the facts- and your comments in response to others are factual and reasonable. It's clear to see who has the ring of truth. So sorry you had to got through this.

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  84. Christine,

    I agree with others. I'm glad you had the courage to post this and write such a detailed post instead of a rant without conclusive facts.

    Workshop snake oil sales-poeople need to know that in this day and age of social media, they need to step up and deliver on what they promise.

    Good job.

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  85. I want to be able to 'like' comments given by Christine's supporters! She did an excellent job of leaving emotion out of her review and even when being attacked by others here. I love that her friends and colleagues to come to her defense, to have her back, that is commendable and admirable. I have known Christine online for years and met her once in person. I was intimidated by her because I admire her hard work and amazing business and photo skills and though I knew she only vaguely knew who I was, she greeted me with sincere friendliness.

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  86. you guys, I want to say this publicly without getting flack. Please accept my apology for being anonymous.

    Her portfolio is not good.

    I know, I know... it's personal opinion. It's subjective, I know. Don't murder me here. Hear me out.

    I came on this article cold- I saw it circulated some place else and decided to click over. I googled Christa's work before reading any of the reviews, and I also skipped reading any portion of Crista's posts.

    I looked at just the images. Nothing else. And... not really excited or impressed. Jennifer Williams blows these out of the water.

    Just sayin'.

    I know you definitely deserve what you paid for, absolutely. This photographer's work isn't all that great. I guess what it comes down to is that I don't really see the value in her work when the marketing is ignored (or in my case, completely unaware of who she is).

    Seriously.

    Hopefully you never have to go through this again and are wiser for it.

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  87. Wow. This is just unbelievable. Why would anyone want this to go this far. Thank you to Christine for tastefully presenting the facts and have them corroborated by other attendees. The entire situation is sad not only for those paying the fee, paying for flights, taking time away from family and business but for all of photographic instruction in general. I have been teaching for years and have ALWAYS exceeded my attendees expectations. I stay longer, offer help after the fact and try to be sure that everyone gets more than their monies worth. Planning, having locations, booking enough models and having back ups are the industry standard. Just like any wedding or session that we accept to shoot. It is up to us as organizers (for a client or attendee) to be sure that we have all of our ducks in a row. We need to be sure of where the lessons take place, who is involved, what is needed, what lessons are taught, being sure to read our attendees to be sure that they are happy with all that is going on and to most importantly, deliver what we promise. There are many experienced teachers out there that do this well. There are way too many egomaniacs who see that they can share their lack of knowledge for a premium and in the end are not capable of delivering the goods. Shooting photographs for a short time does not make you the all wise, all knowing, all teaching ruler. I really am saddened by all of this and the lack of making it right. The only thing sadder than this debacle is the involvement of the anonymous cowards who know not what they write and then insult and comment without showing their faces. What has this industry gone to? Everyone is a seasoned pro because they have a camera, a blog and a pretty camera strap? I think not. Just sayin...

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  88. After watching Christa Meola on creativeLive I found her to be someone who is not a nice person. Irregardless of her photography skills, which I question her inter-personal skills questionable- she insulted John repeatedly through her condescending attitude. I am glad to see this come out and publicly expose her for who she is. Sorry this happened to you Christine.

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  89. I'm not surprised to hear about this. She rubbed me the wrong way just minutes into her CreativeLive workshop and I felt that that was not worth the $99 I paid minutes in. I can only imagine what it must feel like for you after sponsoring her trip to Paris.

    Here is my 2 cents on workshops. Workshops these days have spun out of control and that's what new business owners turn to for direction, while that's not the only way - it's just the easiest and most feel good way (if done right). I find workshops to be little more than a motivational events with a few useful gems here and there that are not worth the price in the end. Perhap you might want to break down all the promised points and figure it out on your own. Nothing beats learning through your own experience. Make mistakes, form your opinions, and draw your own conclusions as to what works and what doesn't for your business. Who cares what Christa's packaging is like? Are you going to copy it if you knew? Solidify your branding and figure out what you stand for and find a packaging that fits you.

    "Christa will share in-depth info on how to work beautifully with natural light, the art of coaching & posing models, creating high-end sets & styling, creating amazing relationships with clients, pricing, post production, branding & more.”

    -Have a girlfriend come over so you can practice some poses on her as well as lighting. Don't copy other photographers, do your own thing. That's what makes you unique and why your clients will come to you.



    "creating high-end sets & styling"
    --she shoots out of hotels, what sets is she talking about? If you have a studio get a nice boudoir chair, a backdrop system, some nice fabrics, pillows, furry rugs, keep it simple. If you can, get a bed as most clients assume there will be one and make that work. If you shoot out of hotels, you don't need to make sets as you just have what you have in the room to work with. So the bed, maybe something by the window light, and whatever else that looks clean and works with your look. Styling is what? Picking out the lingerie for her to wear that your client already brought and matching some jewelry to it? It's simple. You're not shooting a cover for vogue.

    "creating amazing relationships with clients"
    --Exceed your clients expectations, do what's right, and follow up and you're there!


    "pricing",
    --She can't tell you how to set your pricing, you have to make the decisions. She will be as vague as the next guy. You have to sit down and do the thinking. Workshops do not replace this.

    "post production"
    --Use a photography forum. She is not using a process that's revolutionary! She hardly knows how to use her camera.

    "branding & more”
    Figure out what you stand for and why a client would want to come to you over the photographer down the block. Pick up a book on branding or hire a professional to help.

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  90. Wow. That's amazing. What a shame.

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  91. As a "real woman" model for one of Christa's shoots I am not surprised to hear this. I love my body, my looks and was excited for what I thought would be an empowering experience. I was coming out of a really rough few years and emerging from the rough patch very confident. I viewed this as the welcome back present to myself.

    I have zero modeling experience. The whole idea was to shoot a "real woman", that's me! I expected that I would receive coaching or at least a supportive tone or specific direction. Instead, I was greeted with an exasperated photographer who kept repeating over and over to flip my hair and then actually said to me "geez, it only took you an hour to give me something". She was combative and terrible and then in the live review of my shoot in front of thousands of people continued to slam my efforts and claim that I didn't show up and she wasn't interested in working with 30 something pretty girls - which is a category that I would definitely fit into. What, what!?

    By the end of the shoot, it was clear that she was extremely frustrated with me and I was practically in tears. I figured that a professional model would not cry so I waited until I got into my car to start sobbing. I am a person who takes a huge amount of personal responsibility for my life and do not move through life as a victim however I felt attacked by her...and being attacked while in such a vulnerable position as being naked in front of a crew is an awful feeling.

    The photos were pretty good. Definitely not me but someone else's kind of sexy version of me. They felt a little glamour shots-ish like in the 1980s mall chain sort of style.

    What was most disturbing was at the end of the shoot she looked sincerely at me and said " this is hard for you isn't it". Finally, some compassion! I said yes and was feeling incredibly broken and on the verge of tears she just kept snapping photos. She then included that photo in my final set. It was a terrible photo and captured and confirmed how awful I felt. I felt that the only time that she genuinely connected with me when was she was looking for the broken down parts of me which is pretty fucked up.

    When I shared my experience with her she wrote a nice email back and said that no one had ever expressed having a bad time in a shoot with her (which I find insane). So, I'm glad that you spoke up. She is awful and has a lot of growing up to do. I also feel a ton of compassion for her because if she treats other people so terribly I can only imagine how terribly she treats herself.



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  92. I do believe we have all learned from this experience, even if it isn't what we signed up for.

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  93. I wish I could say I am surprised about what you happened, but I can't.
    My experience with Christa was about 2 years ago when she and a five others photographers did a boudoir workshop in San Diego with Pictage.

    The short version...
    Christa was billed as an amazing boudoir photographer, so I was most excited to learn from her. Unfortunately, I learned absolutely nothing from her about shooting boudoir or photography for that matter. The only thing she really taught was how to be fake. She said how to constantly the model, "you look great", or "thats amazing" even when it's not.

    We broke down into groups of 12 and Christa was going to instruct us on a boudoir shoot. What a joke. We had about 15 to shoot a curvy model in her hotel room. Basically, Christa told the model where to stand/lay and told all of us to take pictures. There was no teaching about posing or lighting, just 12 students all at the same time fighting each other to get the best shot of this model. The entire time Christa was snapping her photos too. It was extremely funny when she asked me see the shot I just took, and before I even showed her the image on the back of my camera, she said, "that looks great" and walked away.
    She is so fake.

    Christa is a good photographer, and extremely amazing in marketing. I cant believe why anyone in there right mind would pay that much for a workshop with her, or anyone for that matter. Her work is really does not justify that price.

    The best part of your story is that you had to go out and find models, and that you had to shoot in your OWN hotel room. So basically you did all the work while Christa took your money, ate, drank, and probably took her own photos over your shoulder on your dime?

    I hope no other photographers fall for her B.S.

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  94. I used to admire "Christa's Work"
    Two days ago I found that my fiend Penny had purchased the Videos from the online Workshop. So we watched together very exited to learn something new, I soon noticed that she doesn't have technical knowledge of equipment or some other things. She said on different occasions that she does a lot of Automatic functions, Which is not bad, as long as yo don't charge $3000.00 for a session, I guess I would be at least expecting some Medium format images. I also noticed that she don't answer questions with a clear response and in on several occasions she said "we'll talk about that later" or "that belongs to a totally different workshop"
    I really feel sorry for all the people that paid $4000.00 or $10,000.00 but unfortunately that's the way we lear, from our mistakes.

    From my point of view she kind of brain washes people by offering some high quality information even for professionals. Just like on her website "Only 7 spot available" she knows how to play with words, to sell to involve you and push you to purchase. Or like the money shots. Or when she says that she works a lot with High Profile people. Might me true or not, but it makes you desire "what she does".

    She has a good taste for certain things I'm not gonna denied that. I studied Fine Arts and Painting that's why I used to admire "her work"

    I'm glad I didn't signed up for the online workshop.

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  95. Thank you for posting this review. It made me think of the following quote. "Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy." ~ Aristotle

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