Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting Schooled : Continuing Education for Professional Photographers {Allan and Lisa Mueller | Knoxville Professional Photographers}

Allan and Lisa at Imaging USA
(Image by Jamie Weiss, Jamie Weiss Photography)

It's hard to believe we haven't even been home from Imaging USA for a week and already we have begun implementing some key things we learned from industry leaders during the fabulous classes we took over three long days at Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. Education is extremely important to ALM Photo and we take advantage of the annual conventions held by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) as often as possible. Last week at Imaging USA, PPA's annual convention, there were classes geared toward wedding and portrait photography as well as many business classes on topics ranging from social media to workflow. Like many other professions, such as healthcare professionals, real estate agents, and teachers it is necessary for professional photographers to participate in continuing education in order to stay up-to-date on trends, learn new skills, be informed about equipment and find new ways to keep our photography fresh.  As I am writing this Allan and I are watching Master Photographer Doug Gordon's Bride and Groom Flow Posing DVD (well, Allan is obviously watching it more closely than I am!) so we can learn from his techniques for keeping the bride and groom moving while shooting them before and/or after their wedding ceremony. A photographer can never know everything, especially one who tells you they are a professional. Each year Allan and I take several workshops on a variety of topics like lighting, posing, and marketing as well as ones focused on specific genres such as glamour, boudior, or weddings. We also have a vast library of books and DVDs that we read and then constantly refer to when we need to determine the best way to handle a particular lighting situation, posing or edit images.

I must admit this post was started as just a little update of what we have been doing since we returned from Imaging USA, but then I realized many of you, the non-professional photographers and photography clients, may not realize the importance of continuing education.  Ask your photographer how and where they were educated. Ask them if they keep memberships with any photography affiliations. Many successful professional photographers do not have a degree in photography from an accredited educational institution (we don't!) but that does not mean the photographer has not been properly educated in their craft. Make sure you are working with a photographer that is open to learning and isn't a 'know-it-all'. Several years ago we started Next Level Photography Focus Group, a collective of Knoxville-area photographers (amatuer, hobbyist, part-time pro and full-time pro) who meet the first and third Wednesday of each month to discuss a pre-determined topic and share and learn with one another. The group, which also has a Facebook group, has grown to include over one hundred members and around 15 members regularly attend the lunch meetings. This group has been the jump-start some photographers needed to help them determine whether or not they are ready to become true professionals. Everyone learns something new each meeting. The key is learning and sharing!

Allan and I love what we do, capturing the moments of your life that will last forever, and couldn't do it as well as we do if we didn't take the time to improve our skills and learn something new every day. Our update will come in a future post since I did seem to get a little carried away about our opinion of the importance of continuing education. I almost forgot to mention that the next workshop we are attending is No Limits: Knoxville by local award-winning photographer Andy Armstrong. Here is information about the workshop for any photographers who may be interested in learning more about lighting, posing, working with client and Photoshop. Please share your thoughts on this topic so I can share with the Next Level Photography Focus Group members.

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1 comment:

Jim Walker said...

Great Post. Can't wait to hear some of the detail of what you guys learned.