This is Part II of my WPPI 2018 series, as it's always too much to cram into one monster post. WPPI stands for Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, and it takes place in Las Vegas every year.
Photographers from all over the globe come to speak, educate and motivate the crap out of us peasants trying to make it in this crazy, competitive and creative industry. I always arrive thinking I've got this photography thing down and leave incredibly humbled and hungry for the next creative challenge. You can read more about how to survive and thrive at WPPI in my first post.
My absolute favorite experience from WPPI this year was a Plus Class led by Scott Johnson of The Edge Photography, called The Art of Bride and Groom Portraiture. This being my first Plus Class, I did a little ol' fashioned internet stalking (see tip #2 in my survival guide) before choosing a class. I was a bit anxious about how a 6 hour long class would go, as I definitely find myself nodding off in classes that are all talk. And sure enough, internet stalking for the win! I found that Scott Johnson is an award winning photographer and that I LOVED his use of light, symmetry, and architecture, but most of all his message: to create truly unique and breathtaking imagery for not only his clients, but himself.
He introduced himself by saying that when he comes to WPPI and sees the winning contest images, he immediately thinks, "Wow, I suck." Being an award winner himself, his comment surprised me. He voiced a comment I have said countless times to myself when I see these incredible award winning photographs or even when I scroll through Instagram. It put me at ease, making me realize that even the top photographers in the world still get insecure about their own work, and are constantly learning just like me.
I've rapidly found that I am more of a visual and hands on learner, and Scott's plus class did not disappoint. We only spent a fraction of the class time listening to his presentation, but I could listen to his delightful English (Not British, because apparently there is a difference) accent allllll day.
Most of his class was spent shooting outside, which was perfect, even in the rain! He explained how he would approach finding the right light, and places of visual interest as if it were a real wedding day. He explained simple ways to turn stagnant bridal poses into the soft, stunning and feminine poses that make brides say, "Is that really me?"
He explained the idea of balancing the posed and "proper" images that Mom and Grandma want to frame, with the creative and life-giving images that make us excited to keep doing this crazy photography thing. He said, "You have to eat your vegetables before you get the chocolate pudding." He's so right. We have to get the plain and bland shots that get us paid, then we can do the creative shots that get us excited to continue pushing forward.
If you are looking to submit photos to contests or judging, he explained what judges look for to award points and what they will dock points for. Literally the most minute details can make or break an image being judged. He truly wants us all to succeed, and taught us real tools we can use to improve our craft.
He explained simple ways to pose men, which is something I struggle with. Being a female, I tend to (wrongly) assume men don't have the same insecurities that we have on the daily, but they totally do! I find it particularly interesting to learn photographic techniques from men, as it's a completely different mindset, and point of view that I am exposed to. (pun intended, haha!) Learning simple ways to help a groom look and feel his best on his wedding day is just as important as making the bride look and feel her best. He's not just an accessory people!
Not all educators have the same approachable, and straightforward attitude that Scott has. I appreciated his honesty, bluntness, and humor most of all. He's just a silly guy that's loving his career, for the most part, and passing on what he knows to us peons. He has a refreshing community over competition mindset, that greatly speaks to me on a personal level and I hope he decides to teach more in the future. Overall, I had a blast in Scott's plus class, and he even offered to grab a beer with us all afterwards! Whaaat?? Beer? My kind of human.
I cannot recommend his class on bride and groom portraiture enough! If you're finding yourself in a creative rut, just remember to eat your vegetables so you can get to the pudding!!!