So, one of my new year’s resolutions for 2015 (yes, I’m one of those people) was to get fit.

personal trainer

As I was chilling on the treadmill (…) one of my gym’s personal trainers ambushed me and asked if I’d like to try a free session of personal training that coming weekend. The last time I had a personal trainer was nearly 6 years ago and I don’t even remember if it was something I enjoyed or not – I remember it didn’t last too long but not much else.

So I said yes, and I added that there were a few things I could not do due to some posture issues, flat feet and bad back. He said not to worry and that we would have a chat before the session to go through all these things.

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1. Value your couples’ time as much as you’d like them to value yours

My personal trainer was 15 minutes late to our appointment. Clearly 15 minutes isn’t a big deal but considering that a session only lasts about an hour, in percentage, that’s a big chunk of time gone.

You know you wouldn’t want your wedding photographer to arrive 2 hours late (about 25% of the time I would spend photographing a wedding). Now, I don’t think there is a single photographer out there who would deliberately arrive late to a wedding and miss an entire part of the day, and obviously there are instances where transports/weather/random caos can bugger up a perfect plan and cause some delay of sort.
But if you have to photograph a wedding and find yourself thinking ‘I will leave my house at x o’clock because that’s about 1 hour before the wedding and 1 hour should be enough time to travel to the venue. And even if I’m, like, 20 minutes late…no big deal right?’

Wrong.

Always, ALWAYS leave with plenty of time to kill, it’s a lot better to wait around or even being a bit early than it is to show up 20 minutes late ‘just because’.

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2. Listen to what your couples have to say, and do your best to remember it.

As I mentioned above, there are a few things I am not supposed to do when working out, at least until my back issues are fixed.
Even though the personal trainer had said that we would have a chat before starting to go through all the things I can’t do, we didn’t sit down to chat at all and I had to remind him about it. He had ‘prepared’ and brought with him a standard good-for-anyone list of things for me to do, half of which he just deleted when I briefly told him what I couldn’t do.

I was not impressed.

You might be lucky 99% of the times and you might be marketing yourself in a way that such things rarely happen, but you will get the couple who feels uncomfortable doing certain things for the sake of original photos (eg. lying on the grass, dance, climb walls…etc.) and if they tell you that, then you should know better than to ask them to jump 5 feet high during their couple shots session.
I had a bride last year who, despite being incredibly beautiful from any point of view and in any light, was a bit self conscious about profile photos and asked me to take mainly frontal pictures of her. It was not my place to argue that so I just made sure I kept that in mind on her day. I wish my personal trainer had done the same.

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3. Go-shoot-leave is not the way forward.

And so we started on those few exercises I could actually do.
I am a very clumsy person who every time is at the gym just gets in whatever position might make a particular exercise easier. I would use the weight of my body to push or pull when I should only use my arms, for example. I would bend my neck  when I should keep my head up, and all sort of random things. Now, I’m no personal trainer but I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to tell you when you’re doing something the wrong way. It’s kinda the main reason why they’re there.
He didn’t. He kept checking his phone, counting down, and didn’t even as much as looked my way.

Chances are that the people whose wedding you’re shooting never had wedding photos taken before. That’s why even if your approach is ‘let things unfold, act natural, be yourself’ you ARE going to have to give them some sort of directions. Placing people in front of a camera and expecting them to behave like they would in the intimacy of their kitchen is optimistic at best.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to pose them, but do help them. Otherwise they’ll just feel left alone to figure it out and will freeze.

personal trainer

4. Hard sell is annoying. Always. In any business. For any service and any product.

As we were just getting started on the second exercise on his list, he was already saying how I should definitely book at least once session per week with him. So that he could guide me and help me get the results I wanted.
Man, chill out. You’re not exactly blowing my mind here and I need you to show me why I should stick around, rather than having you say it to me and expect me to throw my money at you.

You are a stranger to your couples, and until you show them why they would benefit from choosing you, you can not expect them to book you just because they enquired.
Like Jasmine Star once said in one of her seminars: if you need to say ‘I’m funny’, you’re not. If you need to say ‘I’m successful’ you’re not. If you feel like you need to tell people you’re the best, there’s a big fat chance you really, really aren’t.
Show them instead, they will have then something tangible to base their choice on and they’ll know how good you are.

 

Ps. I will get fit. I WILL.

 

 

Their Story

Paraskevi and Richard first met at work: Paras was working as a music teacher and Richard was working in the marketing department.

You know when you find that someone that has you dreaming about his/her face and make up conversations in your mind, to the point where you find yourself giggling and blushing on your own, for no apparent reason?
The person that you accidentally bump into every morning at work and with whom you try to maintain eye contact whilst thinking ‘talk to me talk to me talk to me’, but eventually you just awkwardly turn your head away, just in case that other person thinks you’re a plain weirdo for staring?

I like to imagine their story starting just like that.
If I got to know these two a little bit, reading this Richard would probably think ‘YES, YES EXACTLY’ whilst Paras would look at him and shake her head with a big smile on her face.

It took a lot of courage and ‘spontaneous’ face-to-face encounters before Richard could muster the courage to ask Paras about the rose she was holding on Valentine’s Day, only to find out it was not from a boyfriend, but from a rather creepy admirer she was not interested in. From that moment, his attempts to show Paras how interested he was started with coffees left on her desk, which quickly became cupcakes., which quickly became steak sandwiches.

Everybody who knows Richard will know that a steak sandwich from him is a big deal.
They had been talking of marriage for quite a while, so when Richard took Paraskevi to the beach, she knew he was going to propose. And she freaked out a bit. Before he could say anything she started coming up with a load of silly reasons why she really couldn’t do it, but when Richard took out the tiny box she started crying, and without over-thinking and over-analysing, he asked, and she said yes.

Their day was a big one. It followed the tradition of a Greek wedding, being Paraskevi’s family originally from Cyprus. She got ready at her Parent’s house, the house where she grew up. After putting on the beautiful dress, she came down the stairs, where her dad (who would be officiating the ceremony later that day) greeted her with a big hug and led her to the living room, where the violinist would play for her as her family surrounded her. It was the first Greek wedding for me and witnessing all the little Greek tradition was beautiful.

The ceremony was beautiful and emotional, though Richard couldn’t help giggling every now and then when something tickled him.

After a couple of pictures at the beach, we headed to the Montgomerie suite of the Bannatyne Spa Hotel in Hasting. They ate, sung, danced and were merry.

Their Greek Wedding Photostory

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  • January 22, 2015 - 3:38 pm

    Fotograf Gdansk - What a lovely wedding. I love warm colours here. Nicely done :) ReplyCancel

  • January 22, 2015 - 5:34 pm

    Clare Tam-Im - Gorgeous photos of a gorgeous wedding. Love the dance shots and the couple shots xReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2015 - 5:12 pm

    Kathryn - oooh, such pretty photos. I love her bouquet.ReplyCancel

So, I’ve been to Adam Bronkhorst’s Flash workshop, and I’ll be really surprised if I manage to get to the end of this post without misspelling his last name at least once.

This post is looooong overdue. I’ve been meaning to write it right after the Photography Farm Elements back in September but the last bits of editing and admin caught up with me at the end of the season and this post slipped at the end of a very long list of things to do.

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First of all, I would like to say thank you to lady Lisa Devlin for organising Farm Elements; a mini-version of her Photography Farm workshops.

This one was in London and it lasted two days, though I have only attended the first one as it focused on Flash.

Flash for me has always been something  sitting in my camera bag, that I can grab and turn on and use if I have run out of options.
I wanted to learn to love it and use to its full potential, and Adam’s workshop came highly recommended by a bunch of other lovely photographers. So I signed up, and I haven’t regretted it one bit.

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So, here’s the deal.

Are you having an awkward relationship with your Flash?

Do you feel like it stinks and you don’t really like each other, do you feel like it’s trying to trick you with all those letters and numbers when all you want is sentiment and beauty?

You want to attend this workshop then.

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This is a humble list of things I’ve learnt, which you’ll likely learn too if you’re a good student and don’t poke Adam with a stick.

I can’t stress it enough though: when I say ‘you’ll learn’ I don’t mean simply ‘they’ll tell you, and you’ll duly note’, I mean you’ll get out of there feeling you can actually enjoy taking pictures with your flash, on and off camera.

You’ll know it can be fun and you will be looking forward to start playing with it.

  1. You know those fancy numbers on the teeny tiny screen of your flash?

    You’ll know what they are and you’ll know how to bend their functionality to your will. For YOU ARE THE MASTER.

  2. Off camera flash is actually FUN.

    You can position them in funky ways and have exactly the light you want in a room of any size. You can do light painting and create portraits that are cooler than the cool side of the pillow.

  3. There are coloured filters for your flash

    Yup, and they can be used to achieve really stunning and unique looks, but they can also be used to correct nearly any annoying predominant hue in a venue with owners that have questionable taste in lighting.

  4. Would you like to have a window just there? In that spot?

    No problem. You don’t have to poke a hole in the wall. Your flash can mimic that exact light for you, and you won’t even have to worry about the weather.

  5. It’s not that time consuming, really.

    Setting up your OFC (off-camera-flash) to behave exactly as you want doesn’t take three and a half hours as you might think.

  6. Do you get speeches sweat? First dance anxiety? Dark venue stress?

    Fear not; your flash is your friend and wil get you through this. And no, you won’t have a hundred flat and cold pictures because you’ve been using your flash for the whole duration of it. You will do beautiful things.

  7. Adam is human

    I used to think that all people who knew their flash inside-out must be stone-hearted people with no feelings, a judgemental brow and no friends. Much like people who are good at math (scary). But Adam is a friendly and patience chap who will be actually happy to help and won’t judge you or laugh at you for asking how to actually turn on the damn thing in the first place.

  8. You’re not alone

    Do you feel a bit silly for being so awkward around your flash? You’ll be surprised. It’s a common disease and many people are affected.

  9. The better you treat it, the most it’ll love you

    Your flash needs some TLC too, just like your camera. Do you get frustrated with the duration of your batteries? Did you find yourself running to the corner shop to purchase some duracell because your batteries died last minute even if last time you’ve only used your flash once? There are secrets. Adam can help you. And tell you where to buy, too.

  10. Learning how to use your flash properly doesn’t mean you’ll always HAVE to use it

    But it’s nice knowing you CAN. It’s nice knowing that you know how, that you have an option. Again, no stress if a venue is a bit too dark.

 

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  • January 16, 2015 - 8:44 am

    Yolande Dv - I’ve heard Adam’s course is brilliant, it’ll be my turn to sign up this year!ReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2015 - 12:27 pm

      Martina - You won’t regret it (and I promise he’s not paying me to say so)!ReplyCancel

  • January 19, 2015 - 5:03 am

    Amanda Berube - This is really cool and it looks like you learned a lot!! Can wait to see what you do with it :) ReplyCancel

  • January 19, 2015 - 4:46 pm

    Clare Tam-Im - Couldn’t agree more! I highly recommend Adam’s course too. It’s so insightful and makes it all seem a lot easier.ReplyCancel