Tips from Tom, Part I

If you haven’t taken a photo workshop from a pro, consider it. Yes, you can learn a lot on your own, from books, the copious Internet resources available, and your friends and peers. All those arrows should be in your quiver, but there is something special about learning from a pro. Actually there are many things special it.

I took a 2 day workshop from Tom Till and Jon Fuller last October and several advantages became immediately apparent. There are the technical tips and instruction; the professional and business related advice; the revelation of special, if not just plain secret, places; and, if you are fortunate enough, time well-spent having your work critiqued.

The 12 or so Wasatch Camera Club members met that first morning, an hour before dawn, and we drove to a location between Dead Horse Point and Island-in-the-Sky. Called (informally) Marlboro Point – for a cigarette commercial that was once shot there – we arrived just before sunrise and quickly captured the shadows departing as the wall of sunlight fell upon the buttes and cliffs. The view itself was worth the price of admission for the workshop. We’ve all seen images from Dead Horse Point, but though that park was relatively close, and Island-in-the-Sky seemingly a stone’s throw away, Marlboro Point offered up a unique view and opportunity. Tom and Jon knew the way…certainly none of the rest of us did, and probably not many others do as well!

While shooting that first morning, they both helped where needed, made suggestions, and would scout tripod locations. All, pretty much as expected, but it was clear that some folks really benefited from the technical guidance. (Key concept of the morning: hyperfocal distance.)

Prior to lunch we toured Tom’s gallery which afforded us a good Q&A opportunity. Questions about printing, paper, what sells, what doesn’t, books and more, were asked. I’m less interested in paper details but a few business-related nuggets have stuck with me: “local sells local” “the website is for non-buyer’s remorse” “one image really turned the corner for my business” “you have to open a gallery.” These are paraphrased, but you get the drift.

During lunch we talked more business: how things have changed, how stock has dried up, how microstock is killing the golden goose, how tough it really is. I was pretty discouraged and asked Tom straight out: should we just pack it in and not kid ourselves about making a career of this? He emphatically shook his head ‘no’ and I thank him for that.

We ended the day at Faux Falls south of Moab. Though not far off the main highway, having the pros show us the general location at the right time of day was invaluable. The rest was up to us.

Next Post: Day Two with Tom and Jon….    

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