At the end of April I spent two days on the farm . . . not a normal farm but the Photography Farm. Photography Farm is a weeklong intensive workshop run by alternative wedding photographer Lisa Devlin down at the 15th Century Ridge Farm in Dorking. It covers many aspects of being a wedding photographer, not just shooting but also the business side of things too. A couple of times a year Photography Farm goes on the road to run Photography Farm Elements workshops in various cities throughout the UK. The idea being that those who can’t make it down to The Farm in Dorking for a week get to sample some of the key elements of the workshop over two days. I think it’s important to continuously look to improve and grow as a photographer, to enhance your skills and learn new techniques. The course seemed to tick a lot of the development goals that I’d set myself for the year so When I saw that Photography Farm Elements was coming to Birmingham I booked my place. Here’s my review . . .
The course took place at The Abacus Building in the heart of Digbeth, just a stones throw away from The Custard Factory in the creative hub of Birmingham. After getting to know the other attendees over coffee and biscuits we then got down to the serious business of learning.
Day one was hosted by Adam Bronkhorst and was all about flash photography. Many photographers have a fear of the flash and the additional complexities that it brings. When you hear the words “I’m a natural light photographer”, 95% of the time it means “I don’t know how to use my flash properly!” The course covered many areas of lighting, starting right back with the basics of on camera flash and how to correctly balance with the ambient light.
We then covered bounce flash before moving to off camera flash and more creative areas such as gelling, dragging the shutter, lighting groups and rooms. Adam was a great instructor, really knowledgeable, very approachable and the day included lots of hands on experience to ensure that everyone was able to put the theories into practice. The key thing that Adam tried to instil throughout the day was the importance of keeping it simple.
As day one finished we decamped to the Wagon and Horses Pub to review what we’d learnt and chat about our own experiences over a drink or three.
Day two was lead by head farmer Lisa Devlin and was entitled Creative Elements. This was based around ways to approach all areas of your business with creativity, not just the shooting. We started the day learning about some of the ways Lisa sets up her camera and also some of the specific metering tricks she uses.
The centrepiece of the day was anchored around a live photoshoot on the streets of Digbeth where Lisa got to demonstrate some of the “emotional directing” techniques she uses to engage and get a response from her clients in front of the camera. This was the highlight of the course for me, it was fascinating to see firsthand how Lisa works with and directs her couples on a real shoot.
Then it was back to the classroom to learn more about the business side of things as well as to take part in a (nerve wracking) critique of some of our own portfolio images. I really enjoyed how the course was run. It was a very informal setup, more like sitting around having a chat with a bunch of mates than being on a course. Obviously this approach will not appeal to everyone, but for me it was just perfect.
So who would I recommend attends this course – I think this ideally suits people who are fairly new to the wedding photography industry or have a couple of years experience under their belts. Although I’ve come away from the course with lots of new knowledge the most important thing that I’ve taken away with me was the other attendees. There were some great people on the course and some exceptional photographers too. It’s been invaluable to build relationships with them, network, share ideas and experiences. So a big thanks to Adam and Lisa for bringing Photography Farm Elements to Birmingham but also to the other attendees who made the experience so enjoyable.