I was completely intrigued when I heard about the Secret Retreat wedding photography workshops (www.the-secret-retreat.co.uk) from a fellow photographer. The workshops take place in Italy for a week in September and are directed at women photographers who want to grow their business and develop their photography skills. I found the reviews about it being a life changing experience, giving an unrivalled boost to your business as well as offering the opportunity to make lifelong friends along the way very appealing. I stared at the workshop dates on the calendar when they were announced and watched as the limited spaces that were available filled up like a rock concert. Although I knew it would certainly be worth the time and money, this year I just couldn’t justify it so I let the opportunity pass.
Then I heard that the Secret Retreat intended to run a one day workshop right here on home soil called the Secret Retreat – Fireside (www.the-secret-retreat.co.uk/fireside)… When the bookings went live, I managed to secure the last available place (… they actually ended up setting up a second days training due to the popularity.)
The workshop was held at Ponden Hall (www.ponden-hall.co.uk) in West Yorkshire at the end of November. The Hall appears to be the inspiration for Cathy’s home in Wuthering Heights and Emily Bronte may have written a large part of the novel at the Hall when she visited with her siblings – drawn by a friendship with the people who lived there and a very large library. With its remote setting in the middle of the Yorkshire moors, it felt untamed and very much in keeping with the imagery of the novel and the tortured romantic Healthcliff.
There were 14 of us eager students who listened to and participated in some great discussions about the business of wedding photography. Lucy (lucywoodrow.co.uk) prompted us to think about our personal values and how they were reflected in our business. Claire (www.clairepenn.com) talked about pricing and Andrea (www.andreaellisonphotography.com) talked about the “perfect” clients.
In the afternoon, we headed outside with our models – Casey and Mark. They are getting married next year and Claire and Andrea are going to be their photographers. They were great at enabling us to direct them (after some very useful tips on ways to do this from Andrea which I will definitely be adding to my “tool kit”). Casey was so cool – up for being out in the rain and getting wet in a little dress while us photographer types stood around all dry and toasty in our wellies and winter coats! When we got back into the dining room, there were four great cakes (great in both size and nature) waiting on the table for us. My only disappointment at cake time was the fact that I couldn’t try a piece of all four.
Melisssa (www.thedesignspace.co) gave the final presentation of the day focusing on websites. She also gave me a bit of a personal critique on my website which was invaluable in providing me with some great suggestions to take the space forward.
We finished by heading down the road to a pub called the Old Silent Inn (oldsilentinnhaworth.co.uk) where we ate yummy food. As well as some down time with the people we had just spent the day with, we also met some of the others who were joining the following day’s course – a lovely bunch of people.
I left the day feeling inspired by the experience and with my brain full of ideas of things I want to do with Flying Canadian Photography. Thanks to the Secret Retreat – Fireside and my fellow trainees for making this such a fun experience.
Oh yeah – and I got some cool pictures too!