I remember the day that I first discovered the Fearless Wedding Photographers site as it took me a good few of hours to leave that little patch of cyber-space! Fearless photographers is a directory of international wedding photographers and they run competitions every few months where photographers can win awards. I had become so bored with traditional wedding photography and all the “swooning blog editors” who were “literally drooling over their keyboard” and very seldom looked at wedding photography blogs for inspiration.
For me wedding photography is about moments not about flower arrangements and colour schemes. Having an art background also means that I love making really dynamic striking images which go beyond pretty images of bouquets and bunting. I love light and interesting compositions; I like to talk with images and creative narratives and stories. I have been hooked on Fearless ever since that day they popped up onto my Facebook newsfeed, as their site represents everything that I love about wedding photography.
When I noticed that they were going to have a conference in Bali my heart did a flicflac. Bali is one of my most favorite places in the world and it also has a more favorable exchange rate for us South Africans. My life was in flux at that point, my relationship had ended, my apartment was up for sale, and my assistant was going to live in another city. Everything seemed topsy turvey and upside down.
I have always pushed myself to make better imagery and I really do believe that in order to improve one needs to be constantly educating oneself. I was feeling rather flat after an emotional rollercoaster and needed to do a big creative restart. The Fearless conference seemed to offer all of that and more, so it seemed a very logical step to book a space for the conference, and my ticket to Bali.
I can honestly say that the conference was one of the best things I have done for myself and for my business. Besides meeting a really wonderful group of talented, like-minded and egoless photographers the program of speakers was quite something. They included Erin and Ben Chrisman, Ryan Brenzier, Huy Nugen and Sergio, Erwin Darmali and Julian Wainwright. Every speaker there offered me valuable insight or practical tips that I will be able to take forward with me. They all have different approaches to wedding photography and business but they all have a few things in common. First off is they are all widely regarded by their peers and various publications as being amongst the best wedding photographers in the world. None of them have the big egos that one would expect from such accolades and awards. And they all seem to push themselves to keep on bettering their craft as opposed to sticking with a cookie cutter formula. These are the types of people who inspire me to take better pictures and be a better human being!
From Erin and Ben I learnt that you can never take enough pictures when on a mission to get the perfect shot. They also spoke extensively about how a perfect picture is not just about composition and light but also about ensuring that the image also captures a moment and emotion. Huy gave those that were brave enough to hand in pics, a critique and this was hugely valuable. He also advised getting together in groups to crit each other’s work so as to help each other improve, saying that ‘the images, not the photographer is being judged,’. Ryan spoke extensively about his work process and how photographers often spend too much on gear and not enough on getting staff to help them out with emailing, processing, editing and album making. This made sense, as a photographer is only generating income when we are behind the lens and we spend far too much time behind a computer. Julian gave us so many practical tips on shooting documentary type images… which ranged from “eat when you can” to always hold your camera close to your heart (and not dangling by your waist) so as you never miss a moment”. I really resonated with his talk and so enjoyed finding out about all of his mentors and the photojournalists that he looks up to. Erwin spoke a lot about the creative process and the importance of not following trends but rather looking to ones own strengths and interests to develop a personal style. Sergio spoke about the hunt for a good photograph and encouraged people to slow down and think more before madly shooting away. He also spoke about feeling the moment and about finding love for your clients so that you can tap into their energy. There was so much advice offered during the two day conference that it would be impossible to write a short blog post about it all.This is really just a quick summary of my experience.
If you are a photographer who is interested in improving your work I highly recommend this workshop. If you ask any of the South Africans who attended the conference if they thought it was worth it I think you will hear a resounding YES! Monica Dart, Charlene Schreuder, Laura Jane, Jaco Van Schoor and Darryl Fraser, what an honor to fly the Saffa flag and learn with you all!
Apparently Huy needs 100 people to attend in order for the conference to be viable. My question is can we get 100 people to attend one in South Africa????