At the end of November we got together with several very creative and ambitious photographers for a day around Ed's place. Ed is Ed Peers the talented and very successful destination wedding photographer. We had first heard of him earlier in the year when browsing the guest photographer line up at "Way up North" the Scandinavian photography convention in Stockholm. There were a number of photographers lined up as guest speakers one being Ed.
Reading his bio on the Way Up North website and realising he was from the UK we had to check out his work. Well once you have done that you can't failed to be awed by Ed's beautiful warm images. His work is superb and with a mix of stunning landscapes and powerful emotional story telling it really spoke to us.
It wasn't long after that we noticed he was running a workshop from his home in Surrey, living only 30 minutes drive away we just had to book and see what we could learn from him. It was a big decision to pay £450 to attend the workshop but we were sure that if for nothing more than some fresh perspective and inspiration it would be worth it.
We have been around long enough to know their is no secret formula to success, it takes passion, talent and hard work to get to where Ed is in the industry so we were under no illusions that we were going to be given some magic formula, discover a new way of shooting or a special editing technique. We were hoping however to meet some like minded people, hang out, listen to Ed and get inspired by him and his work.
The day started with meeting up at Ed's home where we gathered in the kitchen watching him struggle to make his gourmet coffee for 12 people at once. As he said it was his first workshop at home and he was refining his technique!
We then went into his spacious living room/office/multimedia suite for the mornings presentation. It was a really relaxed and informative morning as Ed took us through his story on how he started out and his philosophy on photography and the business of photography. Alongside a presentation filled with Ed beautiful images on a large screen the room itself was filled with inspiration in the form of books and magazines such as Cereal and Kinfolk alongside fine art photography books of the past masters. Like many he takes a lot of his inspiration from design and knows exactly what he likes which then inspires his photography.
Ed as promised was an open book and went through everything in the morning prior to a planned shoot in nearby woodland in the afternoon. If we took anything away from the morning and later afternoon session it is that Ed is not a business guru or genius in marketing. He simply shoots what he loves, shoots it in a consistent way and carefully curates his work to connect with like minded people. At one point we even asked him “surely you must have worked hard in the early days marketing and getting your work out there”? Ed just smiled apologetically and said no not really I just did what I did, I didn't really think about marketing or the business side to much and it all just happened! Hard to believe maybe but its no doubt true.
Ed is a easy going modest guy who’s life seems to strongly built on family values and creating strong personal connections. He has a clear vision for his photography and with a Phd in Aeronautical engineering his analytical engineer brain has created a business that is creative but streamlined. Although engineering is far from his world now its clear he has used his natural aptitude in this field to analyse what needs to be done and implemented a workflow in his business that leaves no time wasted. Maybe here is a lesson for all of us. Many photographers never set out to be where they are now and I’m sure we all have past skills and aptitudes that we can use to create a business that is built around our natural strengths and aptitudes.
In the afternoon the sun come out providing some beautiful warm backlight for the demo shoot by Ed. Aleks and Irene Kus (also on the workshop) agreed to be the models for the shoot as we gathered around to listen to Ed’s take on light, posing and composition. A Canon shooter his main lenses are the 24, 50 and 85. Everyone gathered around to listen and to try and get some shots themselves as we explored various locations in the local woodland. I had taken my Fuji XT1 with a 50 and 85 (35mm terms) and decided beforehand to try and capture a few images for a blog rather than try and capture portfolio material. Plenty of the group there did get some really nice shots though, which they later showed on a group Facebook page that Ed had set up. It was a really relaxed and informal couple of hours and it was great to get Ed’s philosophy on shooting a couples session. Once again there was no magic secret and nobody there would have expected one, the best advise was to get it right in camera and keep posing to the very minimal.
On returning back to Ed’s home we went back into his lounge to review the images and go through Ed’s post production workflow. The whole process was slick and minimalistic and other than a preference for warm images there was little post processing to the images. From here it was more advise on presenting your work to the client, creating wedding albums and even some advise on packaging so the whole package could fit through a normal letterbox for delivery. As we said for Ed it's about a streamlined workflow to deliver a quality product with the minimum of fuss.
At this point we had been there all day and wrapping things up it was time to head over to a local restaurant for a group meal. This really was a great end to the day and a time to chat and discuss the day over a meal and a glass of wine. Ed was a terrific host but its was great to get to know the other photographers on the workshop. Although there was a wide range of photography experience in the group everyone was supportive and encouraging of each other. As the dinner and the day was wrapped up business cards were handed out and everyone said their goodbyes with promises to stay in touch and “see you on Instagram”. With a very mixed group of photographers from Slovenia to Canada and everywhere in between it was really great opportunity to connect with other wedding photographers and hopefully support each other in the future.
For us it delivered what we had needed, some inspiration and the confirmation that we need to keep shooting, keep things simple and shoot what we love. We are still some way from finding our style, and we have so much more to learn and refine before we find that style, but what we do know is as with everything in life its about the journey. The workshop has left us feeling more relaxed, in less of a hurry and determined to stick to what we love rather than chase any opportunity to book anything and everything. As Ed said during the workshop: “Find a way to do what you love, be committed to doing it well, share it with others and network with like minded people; then surely things will happen.