11 Jan

Jenna Cole Aspirations Workshop

Posted by Jenna, Under Photography

I’ve owned a dSLR for 3 years now, and in that time I’ve learned a lot. On the left you can see a photo I took and delivered to my clients when I first started, and one from a session I did last year. I’m self-taught, and certainly don’t know everything, but I’d like to tell people about the things I do understand. If you have a dSLR and would like to work toward understanding how to use your camera better, click here to learn about the Aspirations Workshops I’m going to be holding during the month of February.

I’ve done workshops like this before, and here is what one of my attendees had to say about the experience:

I was very much on the fence about my photography. I went into this almost completely blind. Almost meaning, I did a few sessions with my father-in-law’s camera (Canon XT), was satisfied with the results of the pictures I took, but in no way used the camera to maximize its capacity. After that (and after getting lots of “ooo, great pictures!”, “nice work”, “oh you’re doing these for FREE? i’m in!”), I did my research, got the best camera I could get for my budget (Canon 40D with the kit lense, which I very much regret getting that lense to this day), started up a photo blog, and went on my way. I skimmed the camera manual for some guidance, had absolutely NO idea what they were talking about, and was completely frustrated with how my husband was trying to teach me. So being completely blind still, I did lots of sessions with the little knowledge I had of what my camera was actually doing, and was decently satisfied with the results of my pictures. I mean, I did have Lightroom and Photoshop anyways to fall back on.
Which brings me to my editing. I HHHHHAAAATTTTTEEEEEDDDDD it with a passion. Yes, all caps, and super exaggerated. If you don’t say it like that, then you won’t get the full effect. I spent hours upon hours editing EVERY SINGLE good and decent picture. It was so overwhelming, so tedious, so not exciting. From what I read, this was supposed to be one of the best parts about photography. Effects, actions, presets, the whole shabang was supposed to be fun! Eh wrong.
Now I know I was completely going at it from the wrong angle. Here’s what Jenna Cole taught me:
First we started out with Composition. I went into this knowing a few photo techniques, i.e. placing the subject(s) on a grassy hill with hands placed just right and saying, “don’t move”, or as my husband chimes in “try to look natural, but don’t move too much”. HA. Jenna taught us how to make the subject look flattering, how to make them look and feel natural, how to not take awkward ‘up the nose’ shots. All around, I learned the right angles to take and not take photos. For example, Jenna stood up on the bench above our model and took an above picture. Why I didn’t think of that angle before I do not know!
We moved on to ISO, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, using our histogram, and a few other techniques. She explained them in ways that make absolute sense! I won’t get into every single detail of each one, but if you had absolutely no idea what those words/acronyms meant going into the session, you would walk away completely knowing AND understanding what to do with them and how to get every shot at its best.
Jenna gave us plenty of time to photograph our model, helping us in each step to process the information she gave us and use it! She was there to guide me through what buttons to press and what settings to be on. She even let us use her lenses she had on hand (and even let us play with the precious 5D Mark II, which I did not want to let go of) and gain a visual on the difference between what we own and what we could have.
I’m now completely on the other side of the fence. And will not go back on again. Jenna Cole’s Aspirations session was completely unexpected in a very good way. I learned more than I thought I would, and can USE what I’ve learned, which I think is the most important aspect of workshops/mentoring sessions.

 

11 Comments


  1. I’m going to cross my fingers that you do this again in the Bay Area. I took a photography class in college but haven’t really done anything with my camera the last few years and lost so much of the skills and knowledge. I’d love a refresher course especially since I’m looking to start up my blog again.

    It was really neat to see your then and now pictures on the Aspirations workshop page. You really have grown! Although, I remember thinking the pictures were good back then. :)

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  2. Why can’t you live in Maryland :( Though if you do this again(I’m already booked those weekends) I may actually be tempted to fly in for it! I would love to spend a few hours with you working on photography.

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  3. I so wish I lived near you to do this. I don’t own a dSLR yet, but would buy one to learn from you! I’m serious about one of my goals being to get a photoshoot from you. Now that you’re moving to Cali my chances have increased! :)

    Jenna Reply:

    You have a great smile and it seems like we would get along, so I hope it’s a photo session together, but working at a workshop like this would be awesome as well!

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  4. Any chance you’ll do one in Utah this summer? Since I know you’ll have soooooo much extra time :)

    Jenna Reply:

    If I can find a space to host it, I would definitely consider it. I actually will have a lot more time than I think I do right now, because I won’t have a baby. :)

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  5. I actually like the photo on the left better! LOL. Good luck with your workshop. That’s great!

    Dee Reply:

    I agree! Photo number two isnt a good representation of her great talent!

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  6. This is a genuine question, not snark, so please read as such…

    Are your workshops more about helping hobbyists get the best out of their cameras, or are you teaching people how to run a photography business?

    Your work is beautiful and I’m bummed you’re not returning to Dallas because I’d totally toss referrals your way… but at the same time, I think it’s disingenuous for a person who isn’t making a living with photography to try to teach others to do the same.

    I’m not assuming this is what you’re doing… I just wanted to clarify, because there ARE people out there who “take decent pictures so I’ll teach you how, too, and we’ll all be rock star millionaires!” and it all gets a bit muddled. I hope it’s not offensive to ask.

    Jenna Reply:

    I just want to help people get out of shooting on auto. Their cameras (and they!) have more potential than that.

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  7. I so wish you lived in Virginia! Or that I lived near you! I just got a DSLR for Christmas and I’m about to purchase my first lens. I have no clue how to work this type of camera. I’m excited to learn, but don’t know where to start. I will have to find something [like what you're offering] around my area. I’m sure the people who participate in this will love it!

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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