Capturing Couples: a Darling workshop

A few weekends ago, Kristina and I road-tripped up to Maine for the purpose of meeting Jennifer Smith from Darling Photography for her ‘Capturing Couples’ workshop.  We were super excited for it since we had signed up months prior and are both big fangirls of Jenn’s work!  I’m so happy that Kristina encouraged me to join because we had the best time.  It started out on Friday evening, where she met me in downtown Boston after work and we piled into my car for the three hour trek to the Lewiston area.  On the way, we stopped for an energy boost and snapped this hilarious gem:

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Once we were well-fueled and on our way, we arrived at our hotel.  I had booked the best inexpensive one I could find, and we were a bit dismayed when it looked like a rundown Motel 6 with a few extra flowers planted out front…  But in the end, it worked for us just fine.  We slept great and were glad we were able to start the next day feeling nice and refreshed with only a short drive to Livermore Falls!

The workshop was an all day affair (10am-9pm), but despite the long hours we learned so much and soon found that it was a great investment!  Jenn was friendly and casual, made everyone feel at ease and was completely open and honest when answering our questions.  She didn’t hold back and was very candid in all her advice.  We also got to meet and chat with her associate photographer, Ryan McCauley, who offered another perspective of second shooting and running his own business in addition to working for Darling.  First we learned about the gear they use – specifically the items they swear by and what’s not worth shelling out cash for.  Then we watched as Jenn culled and chose her selections with lightening speed of an engagement session she shot just the night before.  She talked us through the session and explained her thought process for each setup, where the challenges were and what worked well.  Personally I found it very encouraging to see that my workflow can be done quickly and efficiently yet still deliver quality work; as much as I love editing, it doesn’t need to be an endless labor of love!  After a question and answer session where we had the chance to pipe up and ask anything on our minds, we broke for lunch (which included the most delicious and cute mini cupcakes ordered especially for us, by the way).  Later that afternoon, when the heat started to break and the golden light came out, we met the sweetest couple for our ‘group’ portrait session.  Basically Ryan and Andy were given the task of looking adorable and affectionate toward each other while 10 strangers swarmed around them like paparazzi… but to our amazement, they were perfectly relaxed and made it so easy for us to practice the skills Jenn was teaching us!  We all had a lot of fun popping out front and grabbing the shots as we saw them, and interacting with the two lovebirds.  Posing was the highest priority topic that our group was interested to learn and it was great to see how casually Jenn worked with Ryan and Andy to get the moments she was looking for.  After a couple of hours outside, we headed back in for the last important section of the workshop – editing!  We watched as Jenn whisked through all of the images she had just taken, chose her favorites, and edited them for delivery.  It was so helpful to see from start to finish how she creates her final product!

Some of the things that helped me the most were:

1. Hearing tips for saving time, being more efficient and cutting down my workflow (this is a particular struggle for me, so these were huge!)

2. Feeling validated that I’m on the right track during certain points in our discussion.  It was reassuring to find out that they use some of the same business practices or software that I do.

3. Seeing Jenn and Ryan in action, doing a live shoot, being able to observe their styles and thought processes

I’d highly recommend attending a future workshop by Jenn and Ryan of Darling Photography, if only for the chance to hang out with them and other fellow photographers for a day.  It’s great fun and a fantastic learning experience!  And at last, here’s some of my fave images from our group session.  This spot was amazing and offered the most magical light!

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