February 20, 2012

Pancake Session: Walk Through Review by Kelly Ewell

My Walk Through A Wedding Experience
Guest Post by Kelly Ewell

With Justin & Mary out in Las Vegas this week for WPPI, I am so very honored to be guest blogging for them today about my Walk Through A Wedding experience! I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to start off by saying this, but I completely recommend it for anyone looking to push themselves to the next level!

Buckles & Burberry was held just over a week ago, and I feel like won the golden ticket to have joined 18 other photographers from across the country there. The anticipation all started back in November. Black Friday to be exact, the most notorious shopping day of the year. I am not the type of Black Friday shopper who wakes up at ungodly hours of the morning or stands in line all night. I’d much rather be snuggled in bed with my husband and dog snoring next to me than deal with shoppers who are in it for the fight. But there are always exceptions. Justin & Mary are an exception.

For three months I had been a big ball of excitement waiting to learn all I could from two people who I looked up to so much, but on Friday night as we drove from Virginia to Connecticut I suddenly changed into a big ball of nerves! It was finally here and I had set high expectations for myself. Here is what I had hoped for the weekend, as irrational as some of them might have been:

• That Walk Through A Wedding would completely my transform my photography
• That I’d create a new network of industry colleagues to learn and grow with
• That I wouldn’t be completely incompetent and be the one holding back the rest of the group

What I thought would be a weekend of learning to shoot with better vision and technique became a weekend that challenged me to really think about every aspect of who I am as a photographer. Why do I shoot the way I do? Why do I shoot what I do? What motivates me? How is this being expressed to my clients? How can I get every single aspect of every thing I do to best reflect who I am and what I offer. In short, my world was rocked.

I’ve realized it wasn’t like a light switch just went off and that things clicked in an instant. No, instead it was more like boiling a pot of water. Things start to rumble slowly and as the heat got turned up suddenly I was rolling one thought into another and was set on fire! I think it took me a few days to really process everything I heard throughout the workshop weekend.

If you’re thinking of going to Walk Through A Wedding later in the year (and you should!), here are some things you should know:

• Justin & Mary are incredibly GIVING. Actually you probably already know this, though, if you follow their blog with any consistency. As if opening their home to 18 strangers wasn’t enough, they worked tirelessly to guarantee that each and every one of us had the experience we had hoped for. They were always patient with our questions, honest with their answers, and made sure every little detail contributed to our overall experience.

• The days are LONG! After a Friday night meet up for drinks and getting to know each other, we started off an action-packed day on Saturday around 9:30 am. When we wrapped up at 9:00 pm, our brains were suitably overflowing with information about personal vision, shooting, posing, lighting, and more. And there was still a second day to come! Sunday was about everything else – post processing, workflow, business practices, branding, and the client experience. I think the last of the group finally left around 10:30 pm that night. I know that by the time I left I had taken more than 20 pages of notes. As I sat in the car for the drive home, I kept writing all the way to the New York border just to get all the thoughts and ideas swimming around in my head down on paper. One thing is for sure, you will come away with a very long to-do list of things you now want to accomplish!

• There will be ASSIGNMENTS and HOMEWORK! First, we were challenged to work and shoot in ways that we don’t typically do. Which was great because we had the freedom to make mistakes without the pressure of having to deliver something to a paying client! Next, as we were shooting, we were divided up into three groups. Each group had an assignment to create images that fit into seven different categories. (I’ll keep those a secret for the next Walk Through attendees!) At the end of the night we had to cull through our images and select the best ones among the group to present to everyone the next morning. Critiques are always a bit nerve wracking, but it’s so good to hear different opinions and see how other people approached shooting the same subject matter. It really helps you grow and to see your own work through new eyes!

• You will LAUGH. You will CRY. (Ok, maybe not the guys). You will LEARN. At Buckles & Burberry we ranged from people who were just starting out with weddings to those who only second shoot to those who were established and regularly book 20+ weddings a year. I think it’s a safe bet for me to say that every single one of us walked away having learned something. Or lots of things. Justin & Mary covered everything they said they would and didn’t stop until they had answered all our questions.

• You’ll come away want to go SHOPPING! Justin & Mary talk about all their equipment, when they use it, and how it contributes to the look of their images. But seriously, Carl Zeiss 25mm 2.8 distagon lens anyone? Yes, please!

The bottom line is that I’m pretty picky about the workshops and seminars I attend because I want to make sure it’s a worthwhile investment of my hard earned money. In fact, I might even talk myself OUT of going to some workshop if I’m not totally sold on what I think I’d be getting. But Walk Through A Wedding? Wow, without a doubt it was TOTALLY worth it! I say without hesitation that anyone reading this who hasn’t already been to one should absolutely make the Walk Through A Wedding registration page the next website you visit!

I came away feeling a range of emotions. Confident that I had indeed improved my photography. Challenged to push myself to something greater. Overwhelmed by all the new ideas swirling in my head. Happy that I had met such great people who could all relate to each other. Sad that the weekend had ended. But most of all, excited for my 2012 weddings to start so I could put all these great new ideas into practice.

I only wish there were a part two that I could attend next year. Like a graduate level class. (J&M, you got that, right?) Or that I could shrink Justin & Mary down to carry with me in my pocket to always be giving advice and encouragement. Because with them, it’s so much more than photography. It’s about you. Making and being and growing into the truest you possible. Because of Walk Through A Wedding, I am more excited than ever for what the future holds.

  1. Kelly Ewell

    Wow! Thanks again for the opportunity to be a guest blogger and for everything you taught us all!

  2. Julia

    Love those detail shots! :)

  3. Nancy Mitchell

    Love the shots! Great job with the blog today too! I am praying that some way I will be able to attend the one in April! I won a seat last year, now to convince my husband :)

  4. Susan Evans

    Kelly, great job on the re-cap and the photos!


    Nice pics…and great job on the post! Sounds like a success! Best of luck to you Kelly!

  6. Sarah Goodwin

    Do it! I can’t recommend Walk Thru enough! I attended the Boston one last August and although the structure was different & I only attended the 1 day I learned so much about photography & how and why I want to run my business and define my style. I’d definitely be a Walk Thru groupie :)

  7. Kathryn Denelle Stevens

    Yes! Kelly, thank you for re-capping the weekend SO well! Seriously, anyone who has ever thought about this workshop, don’t think anymore and just GO! It will change the way you think!

  8. Kari Jeanne

    Great post! Not that I needed any convincing – attending a Walk Through is definitely on my must-do list!! Hopefully sooner than later!

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