Laurence Kim Workshop- One on One in Seattle

Shang Chen Photography, Seattle | dsc_7518

First of all, if you’re ever trying to find the Queen Anne district, don’t be fooled by the numbering grid in downtown Seattle. They are not connected. In fact, they run in opposite directions. But besides my embarassingly dramatic 45-minute-late entrance, everything about my workshop with Laurence Kim was fantastic.

Why fly to Seattle when there are plenty of photographers in my own backyard in San Francisco? Several reasons.

  1. Have you ever wanted to custom tailor an individual workshop to your own specific needs? This is your chance.
  2. If you’ve ever read Laurence Kim’s blog, you’ll know he gives practical, useful information. No fluff.
  3. One of Laurence Kim’s greatest strengths is the business side of photography. And that’s what I wanted. Plus a little more about lighting.
  4. You can actually do individual tutoring over Skype from wherever you are. But hey, I love an excuse to travel.

Laurence Kim offers some group workshops scattered throughout the year like “Building a Profitable Portrait Business” and “Lighting 101,” but he also offers the unique opportunity for you to design an individual tutoring session. You choose your own topic(s) and pay by the hour, $100/hr. I set my budget at 4 hours, and we proceded to cram as much as possible into that time. My approach was to look through his existing workshops and choose the topics I was interested in. Here’s were my priorities:

Building a Wedding Photography Business

Highest Priority:

  • Marketing: how to get the most for your marketing $$. Where to advertise, where NOT to. The best way to market. Blogging and social networking tips.
  • Pricing: How much to charge for that 1st wedding, 5th, 10th, etc. How to design price lists that maximize revenue.  How to design packages. How to charge for albums.
  • Contracts:  I go over my own contract line by line
  • Sales:  how to structure your sales meetings

Medium Priority:

  • Workflow: From downloading your cards to delivering the album – how to process your images in the minimum amount of time.
  • Vendors:  I discuss all my vendors, from print shops, to canvas printers to album providers.

Kind of already know/go over if there’s time:

  • Gear:  including minimum required gear, where to spend your $$, and where NOT to
  • Portfolio:  how to build a portfolio. How to edit it to make you look like an amazing photographer.
  • Website: what vendors to use, what to include, what not to.


Highest Priority:

  • Lighting wedding receptions
  • Lighting groups with a single flash

Medium Priority:

  • Fill lighting: when to use it, how to use it and when not to use it
  • How to meter your camera for off-camera flash/Why you don’t need a light meter
  • How to set the correct exposure on your subject

Kind of already know/ go over if there’s time:

  • Understanding light placement – where to place your flash in relation to your subject
  • Understanding modifiers: bare flash, grid spots, umbrellas and soft boxes
  • How to create soft lighting or hard lighting
  • Limitations: what your flash can and cannot do

Amazingly, we got through both the wedding business and the lighting information and had a little bit of time to do a quick runthrough of the portrait business too (which is a completely different business model than weddings). Laurence was very good about covering as much as he could in the time we had and pacing the workshop according to my interests. We used a lot of his existing workshop slides, but he was very flexible about glossing over information that I didn’t need to know and elaborating on anything I had a question about.

When all was said and done, I had nine pages of notes and a whole new world of understanding about the inner workings of  a photography business. Since I was the one who chose all the topics I wanted to learn about and it was one-on-one, I managed to get everything I wanted and more from this jam-packed session. For me, it was definitely more useful than a 4-hour group session on any one topic would have been. It was undoubtedly a worthwhile, bang-for-your-buck, investment.

I could give you an idea of the kinds of information I gathered, but really, you should just look at his blog and sign up for your own workshop to find out whatever it is you want to know. Remember, you can pay by the hour for your own Skype or in-person meeting.

But attention all Bay Area photographers, I am thinking of bringing Laurence down here for a workshop. If enough people are interested, we can have our very own Laurence Kim workshop right here in San Francisco. I guess we’ll see!

I didn’t take any photos during my workshop, but the image above was taken by the wonderful Shang Chen on our awesome photo exploration of Seattle.