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Why Do I Have To Apply For A Workshop? {Newborn Workshops}

As of the time I’m writing this post, all 2015 workshop applications have been reviewed and replied to. Please note that unless you have zero experience with a DSLR or you still shoot on auto using the “spray and pray” method, you’re not likely to be turned away. I don’t require you to be in business for so many years. But I do require the application not only to collect vital information but to make sure that someone who just picked up a camera yesterday and doesn’t have any idea what they’re doing, isnt wasting money on a more advanced workshop than they just are ready for. This unfortunately is NOT a “mom with camera” class- it’s a formal workshop designed for photographers or aspiring photographers.  These applications also keep things fair for everybody else attending- you don’t have to have any experience with newborn photography. I think that investing in your education and your craft before jumping into an aspect of a business is AWESOME. It doesn’t matter how many newborns you have or have not photographed. What does matter is that in terms of shooting in manual mode and knowing what an aperture is and knowing the difference between a prime lens and zoom, you are up to speed and not just playing guesswork. Its nearly impossible to follow along with a class this advanced if you are still fumbling around with a new camera and not even knowing how to make your image darker or brighter, let alone change your depth of field to keep more or less items in focus, change your focus point, or white balance. I’ll speak about shutter speeds, ISO, changing your aperture this way or that way for depth of field adjustment- and if you’re looking at me like deer in headlights, completely lost- you won’t be prepared to absorb the info that I’m giving to you. You’ll walk away from class overwhelmed, disappointed, and unable to move forward in the newborn industry because you just weren’t ready to go there yet. Shooting in manual and FLUENTLY knowing your gear and lenses is a requirement. If you don’t at least know why the 70-200mm 2.8 zoom is better than the 55-200mm 3.5-5.6 kit lens, you’re not likely fluent enough in camera gear to move onto a posing workshop. This is NOT snobby. Or rude. Or a dig. It’s real, hard truth. Please, don’t waste your money. Invest in your business wisely. I bet you never thought that I would call a workshop “wasting your money”- BUT- if you’re not ready for the class, that’s all it will be. A denied application isn’t meant to be embarrassing. I’m not going to TELL people. Trust. It’s between you and I.

Applications are reviewed in order they come in, but approval does not mean that you’re guaranteed a seat for as long as it takes you to come up with the deposit. Just like any workshop, the deposit is still required immediately to book your seat and show commitment. I just require an application first in order to make sure that no one is wasting their money attending a workshop they are not ready for. Many photographers don’t do this so it may not be mainstream and something you are used to. I would rather turn someone away this time around than allow them to waste their money on a class they are not necessarily ready for.

For every application that comes through, I visit the Facebook page or website that they sent me and review current work. I thoroughly evaluate- am I going to come back and say “well you’re doing this this and this wrong.”- NO. Any opinions I have, I keep to myself- and who is to say MY opinion is the only one that is right? No judgey mcjudgersons here. What I do though, is that if someone is approved and books a seat- I make notes to myself so that at workshop time, I know how to best HELP each person, individually, become better and achieve. A little word- please don’t say on the application that you know how to shoot in manual if you don’t yet. It’s okay if you’re still learning. It’s OKAY. EVERYONE starts out learning.  But trust me when I say that I can look at someone’s work and tell if they are shooting in manual or if they are still guessing in auto. If all of your images are consistently out of focus or blurry as well, that will be an immediate red flag to me that no, you don’t understand manual (mainly shutter speed!) yet and that’s okay – but I will recommend a class on DSLR use/shooting in manual first before ever proceeding to a newborn workshop.

Not only  is the workshop material vast and detailed and sometimes complicated, but these babies are so precious. You need to be able to give them your absolute utmost attention at all times and if you are busy trying to figure out a camera that you’re not comfortable with yet, you’re not focusing on the safety of that infant.  If your brain is spending the entire workshop worrying about how long you’re making everybody else wait to get the shot because you are stressed out that your images are not looking right and you don’t know how to fix them, or you are getting inconsistent results by shooting in auto mode and not understanding why, your brain is not able to focus on and absorb all of the information that I will be teaching that day and you will essentially flush $1000 down the drain.  Y’all, this is why I require an application. It’s not an “exclusivity thing.” I take on people with 10 years in business and people with zero. You don’t have to be rich, pretty, or already a “rockstar” (hate that term) photographer to attend a workshop. BUT- if all I cared about was money and took ANYBODY, not caring whether or not they walked away with a quality education, then nobody is benefiting from that, especially the industry-except maybe a money hungry “teacher” who doesn’t care. And that’s NOT me. The photographers I work WITH are most important to me in these workshops- but my reputation is on the line too!

The application isn’t complicated-it asks basic personal info, and then things like how many years you have been in business- how long you have shot newborns- what kind of gear you are using (so i know to recommend a prime lens for the workshop or not mostly), and a couple of short-answer questions regarding your experience level with newborns and what you are hoping to take away from this workshop. These things also help me determine if I personally think this class is right for you- if your answer is “i want to become amazing overnight” then i’ll stop you right there. If it’s something more like “Confidence in posing, recommendations on how to achieve great looking skin tones and editing help”- then OF course this class will be perfect for you!

Please, only apply for a workshop if you’re actually serious- when someone applies and is approved, I send them right back a booking link. Seats are limited, so if you aren’t actually planning on booking, it’s not beneficial to either of us to waste time with an application. I would LOVE to have you- but your benefit is most important to me as well- I want you to walk away on a high-satisfied fully with your investment in your business and education. So while applications aren’t an “exclusivity thing”- they are important to make sure that everyone attending is truly ready to take this next step. That’s all:)

If you’d like to chat about 1:1 mentoring for DSLR 101/shooting in manual via Skype, it’s a 3 hour/$350 class, and is conducted live with just you and I. Shoot me an email at and we’ll get you set up:)There’s a 50% deposit required on all Skype sessions. There is NO shame to just starting out and not being able to shoot in manual yet. There’s NO shame in still having a lot to learn first- just wait for a newborn class NEXT year- and in the meantime, rock that camera girl! It took me probably the first 4-5 months in biz to really learn manual- yeah, I’m embarrassed to admit that. It’s a tough thing to wrap your head around at first but once you get it, it’ll never be something you forget, ever again. It really is “easy” once you get it but in the beginning- it’s tough as nails! Many of the people (some photogs, some just mamas!) who have attended the DSLR 101 classes I used to teach said that it gave them so many real “ah-ha” moments- something that reading a book just couldn’t do- but being with someone who could explain things in detail, show you, and stop to answer questions- changed everything.

I really hope to see many of you at the 2015 newborn workshops- and if not, maybe I’ll see you in a Skype chat!:)

Click here for info on Skype

Click here for info on 1:1 newborn mentoring in my studio (North Baltimore, OH)

Click here for info on 2015 newborn workshop DETAILS

Click here for a list of 2015 newborn workshops that have been set up so far

For EXTREMELY detailed blog posts on these classes and WHY ACP newborn workshops are the bomb click the following links to visit each class on the blog:

Houston, TX- January 17 or 18th 2015

Nashville, TN – June 5th, 2015

Manassas, VA (Washington DC)- June 25th, 2015

North Baltimore, OH (my studio) – March 7, 2015 and May 2, 2015


Thanks guys!