After weeks of anticipation, I headed up to the Hilton in Rockville to meet David Ziser and attend his "Captured by the Light" seminar on wedding and portrait photography. This was my first time seeing David live, but I had a pretty high level of expectation for the program after seeing a number of his online training sessions. I've also marveled over his control of light on location while checking out his portfolio - so I knew this was going to be a blast. If you aren't familiar with his work, make sure you head over to Digital Pro Talk (David's blog) and take a look around.
Now let's talk about this seminar, because to be honest, it was even better than what I had expected. For those of you that have seen David on his online training videos - yes, he's that energetic in person too. He's got a level of enthusiasm that is contagious, and as a result, you can't help but get "fired up" about taking your own photography to the next level.
The sessions are broken up into five main parts entitled:
- Making Your Lighting Exciting
- Creating the Dramatic Image
- Finally, I Have My Life Back!
- Now, Let's Talk About Making Money
- Business Building
The first two parts focus on getting into David's head in terms of photographic technique and composition. While showing real-life examples from his stunning portfolio, David discusses topics such as classic portrait lighting, on and off camera lighting technique, using light modifiers, and using available light. In addition, there's a thorough review of David's camera gear including for what reasons each piece is included, as well as a striking segment on composition. By providing comparisons of similar shots taken from different perspectives and locations, this segment illustrated the dramatic difference small modifications to composition can make on the quality of the final image.
After the first session was over, a preliminary round of door prizes were given away. You read that right, they had so many door prizes to be handed out that they had to do it in two rounds.(Did I mention David has a massive list of sponsors, which says something in itself)
Though getting inside of the Ziser eye for creating stunning photos was a special treat, as a wedding photographer continuing to grow my business, the second session was really worth the entire price of admission in itself. Here David graciously opened the doors on his successful studio and discussed the tools and techniques he uses to minimize effort while maximizing quality presented to his clients. In addition, hearing a presentation from a "master photographer" (inside joke from the seminar...) who actually IS a master photographer about how he markets himself and his brand was invaluable.
The night ended with another round of door prizes and a closing "pep talk" which really got me fired up about taking our studio to a whole different level. If you ask Rose, she'll confirm I've been talking about it ever since.
Overall, the presentation quality, the handouts (bound workbook and DVD) and the content make this year's tour a real value from any photographer, whether it's someone looking to improve their portraiture or a working pro looking to stand out from the competition.
Thanks David for a great evening, and I look forward to the next time I have the pleasure of seeing you.