Laura J McDonald photography | The Photography Intensive

The Photography Intensive

August 28, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

A few weekends ago I was blessed to attend an all-day, info-packed photography workshop here in Atlanta, hosted by the lovely and talented Kathrn McCrary and Haley Sheffield. Aptly named The Photography Intensive, it was a day filled with generous information, practical tips, career advice, and hands-on training. My head is still slightly spinning with all I absorbed during those full eight hours, and I am still in the process of implementing all that I learned. I can't thank Kathryn and Haley enough for their vision and effort in putting the workshop together, not to mention all that they were willing to share with us. It was truly a delight.

I have gone back and forth (and round and round) with when to post, which photos to include, how many details to divulge, etc. The writer in me could overwhelm you with flowery descriptions of Amy Osaba's amazing studio (those windows!) and a line-by-line menu of the scrumptious food that was served courtesy of Homespun Atlanta, but the realist in me knows you poke around a photographer's site looking for lovely images. So I'll share those first (maybe with a few lines mixed in). Any "wordies" out there wanting to know how intimidating it was to walk into a room full of ladies half my age, and my biggest "takeaway" from the workshop, can find details at the end.

First half of the hands-on training (photos above) involved learning to style and shoot still life. Second half (photos below): wedding photography practice. The models were real life newlyweds - incredibly patient and cooperative (especially in the blazing heat outside!), and seriously adorable. I can't say that wedding photography is in my wheelhouse, but the tutorial afforded me a wonderful opportunity to give it a shot (without the pressure of an actual ceremony looming). My favorite capture of these two lovebirds is way overexposed, but I included it in the collection because 1) I love its composition and "mood," and 2) it manifests visually what I'm wanting to get across verbally in this blog. Which is . . .

Mistakes happen. Profound, I know. I'll never forget the moment I learned to embrace mistakes (or at least try to). It was years ago, in a "mommy and me" gymnastics class with my two-year-old son (who is currently 15). He and all the other toddlers were taking their turns on the low balance beam, with every mom in attendance inches away, nervously reaching for hands and waists to correct posture and ensure their little tot didn't tumble, when the very wise instructor made every one of us "helicopters" step back and leave the wee gymnasts to themselves. He actually had to TELL us that if the kids didn't fall, they'd never learn balance. DUH. It's really hard to let your kids fail. Even harder to risk failure yourself (at least for me anyway).

Learn from them (the mistakes). And move on. My biggest takeaway from the workshop (aside from the life-changing introduction to my new love, Blogstomp, and the blatant reminder to always check my light meter), was that I have so much more to learn. And the truth is, I always will. The last three daily Gospel readings have been from Matthew 23 ("woe to you, scribes and Pharisees . . .") and this morning I heard the gentle urging of God saying, "Quit trying to appear perfect. Stop waiting until you know everything to try something. Trust in me and DO what I've called you to do." This site, and my work, will be tweaked and "techniqued" and hopefully improved as I continue to implement all that I've learned so far. Neither the work, nor I, will ever be perfect this side of heaven. But I'll keep putting it out there in hopes that others can learn from my mistakes (and occasional triumphs) as well.

I'm turning 50 in October (can't believe I just disclosed that). My very dear (and generous) friends Michelle Benzinger and Nicole Hartman gave me the "golden ticket" to this photography workshop as an early "milestone birthday" present. As amazed as I was by their generosity, I was equally terrified at the thought of "going back to school" at my age. But I'm so glad I did. Although I may have been nearly twice the age of all the young women in that studio, each and every one was lovely and genuine and as excited to be there as I was. And, wow, the talent. Truly inspiring.

Many thanks and kudos to all of the vendors who helped pull this thing off:

Jenn Gietzen (  / @jenngietzen / #writeondesign) - bags, quote print
Homespun ( / @homespunatl / #homespunatl ) - breakfast, lunch
The Sentimentalist ( / @thesentimentalistatl) - dresses, accessories
The Modern Gent ( / @moderngentstyle) - tux
Andrea Carter ( / @andreacarterartistry) - hair + makeup
Amy Osaba Events ( / @amyosabaevents ) studio + flowers
Meredith Mejerle - designed the flowers #mejerlyforAO
Europe 2 You ( / @europe2you) props
Models - Lauren and Matt DeBusschere (@mrs_blue_sky + @mr-blue_sky)
          Sawyer Baird and Bert Smiley (@sawyerbaird + @bertsmiley)
Class Info ( / @thephotographyintensive / #thephotographyintensive)


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