A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to a photo workshop and get my portfolio reviewed. At the time, I've been contacting photographers and design agencies, and gotten no response from any of my emails, so I was a bit down on myself, I went to this workshop with very little self confidence, but with the attitude that if they said that everything in my portfolio sucked, I would start checking the cassified adds for a new job.
The workshop was filled with amazing photographers/speakers, I have to say that I've learned a lot in it.
The first speaker was Rick Friedman (who was also leading a lighting seminar later on the day), his presentation was short and sweet, but since I wasn't taking his lighting class later, there wasn't much I could learn from him (I did win a set of gels in the raffle after his talk, so I won't complaint too much).
The second speaker was LaRae Lodbell (from CreativeLive fame), she was freaking awesome, her talk was mostly about personal projects (and how they can turn into paid jobs), few things I got from that presentation:
- When choosing a theme, choose whatever you're paassionated about.
- Set a goal, then go above and beyond.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Define an end goal (sharing your work, personal growth, create and sell a book).
- When shooting under pressure, never give up.
- When working with teams (on YOUR projects), TAKE CHARGE.
All in all, she was amazing, and since I'm working on my own projects, this talk spoke to me on a deeper level than most of the other talks.
Next was Al Diaz, he is the person behind Photo Workshops Miami, and an amazing, and accomplished photo journalist. His talk was, obviously, was geared towards photojournalism, and obviously, most of it didn't directly applied to me or my work, but nevertheless, his pictures were amazing, and his work ethic was inspiring.
Last, but certainly not least, the last speaker was Marc Serota, if you don't recognize the name, don't feel bad, go look at his portfolio and I can guarantee that you recognize his pictures. This was the talk I came to the workshop for, and even though it ran short (time management was a little bit of an issue throughout the day), he was, maybe, the person I got the most out of:
- Don't undersell yourself, know your worth.
- Learn from anyone.
- Build relationships.
- When delivering work, deliver under budget, and under deadline.
- Shoot more than just what you need.
- Be innovative.
- Take chances.
- Archive, know what you have, and how to find it.
Now, at this point I was already ahead, I had won a raffle, I got great advice from 4 amazing instructors, I got some freebies, and Marc threw a Polaroid shirt at me for knowing what was "shimping", but I still had the portfolio review (you know, the reason why came to the workshop in the first place). I had chosen Marc Serota as my reviewer (as he is working on a field I want to work in), but I'll admit that after his talk, I was a little bit intimidated, and second guessing my choice (the guy is a straight shooter, no nonsense, and he seemed like the most likely candidate to just rip me apart in the review), but since that, sincerity/honesty, is what I was hoping for in my review, I guess I stuck by my choice and I let the cards fall where they may... BEST.CALL.EVER!!!!
The review was great, there were some points about my choice of cropping and how to improve it, as well as some pointers on editing choices, but generally speaking, the review was amazing (I'm not going to quote him, nor am I going to post his comment on FB, though I do have them, and I'm so gonna frame that shit up). But the most important part, it open the door to work with him on a professional project (I did some editing for a shoot he had that will be ultimately published in a national sports publication [since it hasn't been printed yet, I don't know how much secrecy there's around it... so, yes, I'm playing it safe]).
Now, I came to the workshop with my low self-esteem, I got reviewed and offered a job on the spot (which I'll admit, it did wonders for my ego), and I went home to wait for the images to start editing... I'll admit it, while I was waiting, all I coulld hear in my head was "you bit more than you can chew", and the classic "EVERYONE IS GOING TO FIND OUT YOU'RE A HACK", oh, it was fun. I know I needed a bit of babying at the begining (Hey, Marc, is this ok?, how about this?), but (I hope) I got better when it came time to the real shoot.
The things I've learned from this job:
- When an opportunity comes to you, you need to grab it with both hands and make it yours, make the most out of it, make it work for you.
- Self-doubt and insecurities are going to be ever present, but you need to shove them aside or rise above them.
- If someone is giving you a chance, you need to go above and beyond for them.
- If someone asks you if you can do something, and you said "yes", be sincere enough to back down if you feel you can't do it (this wasn't an issue in this case, but there were a couple of times I felt it needed to be addressed).
I am thankful (and painfully aware of it) for the chance Marc took (let's face it, portfolio aside, he took a chance on an unproven photographer/digital editor, and it could've blown in his face), and I know I have to take this chance, and run with it, there may be more collaborations in the future, but I need to take this opportunity and use it to grow my own business too (and yes, I will be asking Marc, Al, and LaRae, about how to go about this).
Well, if you made it this long, I appreciated it, I know this was a long post, I will also recommend for you to go to workshops, particularly PWMiami (if you're local).