Expectations

Photography is full of expectations.  I'm going to talk a bit about the expectations and unusual outcome of one unique client.

A client surfing the net decided he wanted to learn photography and learn it well enough to possibly take on some side jobs shooting weddings or portraits.  He was a rank beginner.  Usually I'm skeptical of such expectations because so few (goals) of this type actually become true.  But from the beginning this client was doing everything I recommended so I paid attention.

 

Photography workshop in Ang Thong

Credited to Rod C.  Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4-5.6 @F5  1/1000th 15mm  ISO 200

(better captured at F11 and ISO 100 for maximum image quality)

 

First, he came up with a list of equipment he thought he wanted and asked my advice.  I pointed out the pros and cons of his choices and made some recommendations for improvement.  He listened 100%.  When he showed up for our scheduled workshops he had great gear and bought locally a few pieces he couldn't obtain at home.  Instantly he had quality gear with enough coverage to take on most tasks, no overlap, a selection that was mature and well considered.  This rarely happens with someone's first camera purchases.

Second, he told me his photography goals and how much time he could afford to dedicate to workshops.  We talked, narrowed things down a bit, and again I made some recommendations.  Again, he listened and did exactly as recommended.  Can you see how strange this is getting?

 

Photography Workshop in Samut Songkran boat yards

Credited to Rod C.  Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4-5.6 @F11  1/25th 24mm  ISO 200

 

Third, during our four days of workshops he listened well.  He didn't push himself too hard, didn't make unrealistic goals, and he even took a break splitting up the days so he could practice what he'd learned and then come back for another day and ask questions and learn more based on his new experiences.  I'll admit, most clients listen and do quite well, but I can count on one hand clients who listened to the exactness he did.  I'd explain a technique, and often without even demonstrating to him he would show he understood.  This mans skills went beyond mere intelligence, he was a practiced 'listener'.

Finally we get to the point where images begin to speak for his skills.  One of my practices is in the days following a workshop I find the time to slowly go through a students images and make notes on anything that stands out.  Strong areas, a technique that could be improved, a good eye, whatever it might be.  During the break in our days together I went over 3 days worth of his images and was pleasantly surprised.

 

Salt flats in Samut Songkran, Bangkok Images

Credited to Rod C.  Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4-5.6 @F16  1/100th 24mm  ISO 200

(better captured at F11 and ISO 100 for maximum image quality)

 

His raw files showed much promise and they showed he had listened to exactly what I was trying to show him.  I couldn't help myself and I selected a short handful of his images and processed them myself, these are the images I'm sharing here in this blog. 

When he returned for his last workshop day I showed him these images and asked if I could share them (and some others you'll see in a future column) with the readers.  I explained to him why these were really strong images and why I liked them and how they could be better.  We talked about the processing steps and he understood.  He agreed that I could share his images and for that I'm grateful because I hope they encourage you to see what a complete beginner can achieve with a few days of instruction and a great attitude.  These are also locations and subjects the average tourist isn't going to see or photograph.

 

Ang Thong photography workshop outing

Credited to Rod C.  Canon 5d Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4-5.6 @F20  1/25th 24mm  ISO 100

(better captured at F16 and 15-16mm for best FOV *field of view)

 

I love the above picture and I wish I'd made the capture myself.  It's near perfect.  I say near because he was using a 12-24mm ultra-wide zoom and he took this at 24mm.  Moving a few steps closer to the machine to the left and zooming out to about 15-16mm would have made this much more dramatic.  Yet, it's fantastic as is.

I believe this client, with practice, will be able to successfully pick up the side jobs he desires.  He'll also be able to photograph his personal favorite subjects to a very high standard.  Without a doubt he met his goals.  In the process of meeting his goals he saved perhaps thousands of dollars by only having to buy his equipment once.  He learned more in four days of workshops than most learn in years on their own.  And if he listens to his customers as carefully as he listened to me there is no doubt in my mind he'll be successful.

I do have on lingering doubt.  It's way too easy to pick up skills while on vacation while taking classes, and then lose those skills because when you go back home you don't use them.  When skills such as these are new they need reinforcement to stick, they need to be practiced over and over again and improved on in that process.

So, do I think he'll be a success?  I think he has an excellent chance.  I'll know for sure when I start getting images from him from back home showing that he's practicing what he learned and improving on it.  Its my sincere hope to open my email box one morning and find more images just like these waiting for me.  Its why I love what I do..  Thank you for the experience Rod.

Until next time..