I am a huge fan of photography workshops – and that’s holding them and attending.
You are learning all the time as you go through life, and it’s no different in photography.
Getting feedback from someone who’s really good and who you admire helps you grow and develop in your own individual style.
I’m my own biggest critic. And you can easily become stagnant, I think, and comfortable with what you do, and sometimes you need to take it to another level and do something else.
Personally, I prefer one-to-ones. Just look up the people you admire in the industry, that you know – you obviously like them for a reason – and approach them and ask.
Some of the guys I’ve worked with had never done one-to-ones before, but there’s always a first time. And there’s never any harm in having the cahoonas to ask!
Gary is probably one of the best – if not the best – photography trainers in the country.
He’s been up three times. We started with the basics in lighting, before moving into adding lighting systems, different poses, when to add reflectors, add shape and shadow, the importance of shadow.
The great thing about it is even after the workshop is over, you keep learning.
You’ve covered off the technical difficulties of lighting different scenarios but then as soon as the situation changes, that new thing, you instantly start thinking: “so okay, why is that doing that, why is that doing that?” Your brain keeps on ticking over, almost teaching itself.
When it comes to weddings, as soon as I knew I was moving into the business I approached a guy called David Bell from Bellissimo weddings in London.
Originally from South Africa, he was my favourite wedding photographer, I absolutely loved his work.
I spent two days with him in London and learned more in those two days than I’d learned in three years of doing photography myself.
That really kicked me off in becoming creative and learning more about lighting, so next I worked with Ian Gomes.
Ian does the Painted Halls in London, at the Old Royal Naval College. He does the weddings at the Gherkin, the Ritz – his father, believe it or not, is the pianist at the Ritz – all these top-end famous locations.
Ian came up here to do the workshop and again, it was a total game-changer for me. Because there were venues I was going to that I wasn’t quite sure how to light them.
He appeared and said: “Right this is how I’d light this, this is how I’d light that,” but also Ian’s way of teaching is “here’s the shot and now I’m going to mess up all your settings”.
He would stand next to me, saying: “Bride’s coming down the stairs, you’ve got 15 seconds. Bride’s coming down the stairs, you’ve got 10 seconds. Bride’s coming down the stairs, you’ve got five seconds…”
It taught me the rally valuable lesson of how to adapt. Now, if I see something wrong I know how to change it really quickly.
The other wedding photographer was Chris Giles who is incredible. Chris uses a lot of natural light and he’s really talented on Photoshop.
He did one of the first “big dinosaur chasing the bridal party”, the T-rex shot that has been replicated hundreds and hundreds of times.
I went down to Brighton to see Chris, and learn more about my gear. He’ll not mind me saying he’s very geeky but incredibly talented.
Chris is very gear-orientated and he knows how to get the best out of his cameras, so in my two days with him, I learned absolutely shedloads.
All these experiences have taught me so much. The whole idea is not to copy them, but to use what they teach and then put my own twist on it.
As I said, I can adapt quickly to developing situations. And it has also given me so much more confidence. Now when I walk in a room, I know how I’m going to light this, where I’m going to light it, what position I need to be in.
And the best bit is being able to pass on some of this knowledge, experience and expertise in my own workshops.
I’m still as passionate now as I was when I started – maybe even more so. And it obviously rubs off. I held my first photography workshop myself two years ago, and every one has been sold out.