I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am because of the great success of the Images for a Cure Workshop on March 1 and 2! We had 70 amazing photographers join us from all over the country to hear our speakers talk on everything from marketing, client relationships, getting published, lighting and retouching. All the keys to a successful business! And we welcomed an amazing friend – Brooke Thomas, editor and creative director of Weddings Unveiled Magazine! She was a wealth of information on what editors are looking for in publishing Real Weddings, and opened an entire round-table discussion to allow our attendees to ask any questions they wanted!

The purpose of the workshop was to give back to all the amazing photographers who joined us and participated in Images for a Cure this past fall. We raised $15,000 for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (bringing our grand total to $28,000) by donating one day of session fees to the cause. Because of these photographers, who so graciously gave up their time and talents, we wanted to reward them by providing a workshop that was bringing back the foundation of our industry – learning from other photographers, sharing and growing to be a better industry! The photographers who spoke at the workshop are not “touring” photographers. They make their living actively booking and shooting clients. They don’t have big staffs, sell products, dvds or books, and they didn’t make a penny participating in IFAC. They are an amazing bunch, and I’ve heard some of the most incredible compliments from our attendees about how much they learned!

Day 2 of the workshop was open for a half-day shooting experience with one of our speakers! This was a completely hands-on approach to photography training by photographers who welcomed everyone to learn from them – making the entire industry a place for sharing, learning and growth among colleagues!

I can’t thank my speakers and attendees enough for this amazing experience. If you attended, please feel free to share your thoughts on the workshop in the comments section. I can honestly say that I look forward to making this a yearly event and I hope to see it grow in the future!

I wanted to share some pictures and video from the day!

A special thanks to:

The MEZZ, our fantastic workshop hosts – the brand-new, premier wedding and reception venue in Orlando!
Kristen Johnson, Rachel Willems and the entire staff at An Affair to Remember for their mad-coordinating and design skills!
Lee Forrest Design, for his amazing vision and floral design
Something Blue Bridal Salon for allowing us to borrow several of her gowns for the Day 2 shoots!
Connie Duglin Linens, our tables never looked so incredible!
Arthur’s Catering, because there’s no better food in Orlando!
Luisa Valdes and the staff at Lunatic Fringe Salon in Altamonte Springs, FL for their crazy hair/makeup skills on our models!
Erika Barker
, for our killer video of the workshop!

Images For A Cure 2011 from Erika Barker on Vimeo.

The morning began with a continental breakfast, coffee, juice and the esteemed Brooke Thomas from Weddings Unveiled! Brooke opened the day with an interactive, round-table discussion where our attendees could ask any questions they wanted about what editors are REALLY looking for when they publish Real Weddings. She gave everyone invaluable insight on how to submit, what to include and how to promote their work to editors! For more about Brooke and Weddings Unveiled, please check out their magazine, website and blog!

Fashion stylist and personal shopper, Melanie Pace, helped our photographers with the basics of styling on set, including what every photographer needs in their own “styling kit” and how to help our clients dress for engagement sessions and bringing out their own personal style!

Luisa Valdes, hair and makeup artist from Lunatic Fringe salon, discussed the importance of professional hair and makeup for shoots, how lighting can affect makeup and how “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean no makeup.

Natural light children and family photographer, Amy Smith, presented “Confessions of a Child Photographer”, sharing all the amazing little moments that capture all the amazing little people in our client’s lives. Even though we were a room of predominantly wedding photographers, Amy’s presentation was a runaway hit, sharing some of her methods for being profitable and how she maintains a balance in her own personal life. From the feedback I’ve gotten, her presentation was one of the favorites of the day!

Abby Liga, who has been documented by countless magazines and blogs across the world, shared her tips for success in shooting weddings that get published. Abby presented tips for documenting your day for the client, and also keeping in mind what things magazines are looking for when they review submissions. Abby’s own fashion-editorial style of photography made her the perfect choice to help other photographers achieve the same business success!

And on to Melanie and Bradford Watson from La Dolce Vita Studio, wedding photographers from Jacksonville, FL, who spoke on “Finding Your Sweet Spot”! This is the perfect balance between work, life, fun and family to create a thriving business and your own sanity. I couldn’t think of anyone more qualified than a husband-wife duo who shoots weddings all over the country and keeps their sanity (if you can call it that) while enjoying a game of disc golf.

I asked Becka and Nate Robinson from Studio222 Photography out of Orlando, FL, to come speak on client relationships. They’re actually the photographers that I refer out to the most often when I’m already booked because of their amazing relationships with their couples. Their presentation on “Cultivating Connection” was a huge hit among the attendees. The ability to maintain these relationships is what often leads to the most referrals, happiest couples and of course – the most amazing photographs.

Joey Wright, funny man extraordinaire and Wescott Lighting Top Pro, gave us an introduction to fashion photography, lighting and final editing to create his graphic masterpieces. Joey opened up his book of tricks, sharing his favorite equipment, lighting set-ups and how to keep things basic no matter what your budget. He also gave a little insight in to his relationships with models, agencies and commercial clients to create his business of perfect photos!

Oh look! It’s me :)

I helped my good friend (and future bride!), Jennifer Scarola (Jennifer Frances Retouching) go over some before/afters of professional retouching. She discussed why it’s important in some areas of photography (like fashion and commercial projects) and how you can make simple adjustments to really make your photos stand out no matter what genre you shoot.

On Day 2, I hosted a Fashion Bridal shoot back at The Mezz, with model Hope Roberts, and real brides Kristen Johnson, Rachel Willems and Melissa Diep. Here are some behind the scenes shots!

Luisa touches up Kristen’s eyeliner before we worked with her on natural light.

We recruited 4’11” Melissa, who was in from Chicago to help me out on Day 2, to model one of our gowns from Something Blue Bridal Salon!

Rachel was ready and willing to jump back in her amazing Amsale gown from her Dec. 11th Grand Bohemian wedding and help us translate fashion photography to real brides.

I even covered some lighting basics with the photographers and our model, Hope.

I brought my ring flash to play around with – and was super excited about this amazing wallpaper. It shoots amazing with a ring flash!
On Rachel (left) Amsale | Gown from Boca Raton Bridal Salon
On Kristen (right) 2Be Bridal | Gown from Something Blue Salon

Behind the Scenes of Missy as she was working with Hope. I shot through the crazy mirrors and loved the distortion it gave!

I didn’t get the memo that it was “Striped-Shirt” day….

And finally, some of my shots from the Bridal Fashion shoot!

Sincerity Bridal | Gown from Something Blue Salon
All hairpieces by Sara Gabriel, provided by Something Blue Salon

La Sposa | Gown from Something Blue Salon

James Clifford | Gown from Something Blue Salon

James Clifford | Gown from Something Blue Salon

Real Bride, Kristen Johnson
James Clifford | Gown from Something Blue Salon

Real Bride, Kristen Johnson, in her original wedding gown

Real Bride, Rachel Willems
Amsale | Gown from Boca Raton Bridal Salon