When I think about attending workshops for our business I get a little anxiety ridden. You see Jeremy and I have been to several throughout the years. You might say we need a 12 step program for them actually. We have been to California, Utah, Mexico and more to learn from top photographers in this field. We have attended online classes as well. Some of these experiences have been beyond amazing for our business and others just alright.
If you purchased Issue 5 of our magazine you had the opportunity to read Stephanie Newbold’s article…Confessions of a workshop junkie. I think everyone should read this article actually as Stephanie has some great advice and has her extensive workshop attending experience to back it up!
So I decided I wanted to up my senior game here locally. I live in a very small college town of around 8500 people. In this town there are literally 15 photographers. No joke. There is one on every street I believe! I am the most expensive in both our city and county…so what more could I possibly do? I wanted to attend a workshop that would be all encompassing of the senior business and experience. I had a few things I knew I wanted to implement with my business but was not sure how I was going to go about actually doing it. After hearing several reviews from photographers about this workshop, lets just say I was curious. It sounded like exactly what I was looking for, however experience has taught both my husband and I that we need to lower our expectations sometimes when it comes to continuing education.
I ultimately decided that The Kitchen Sink Workshop was going to be the best fit for our business based on what I currently knew about it. Last week I went to Texas and was ready for the workshop (so I thought). It was a workshop…we would have class time, shoot some models and I would learn a few things hopefully to apply to my business. Um hello, I clearly was mistaken. You see there is no amount of preparation you can do to prepare you for what you will experience in those two days. It is literally photography boot camp.
Here is my experience…
Thursday June 6
You walk into the conference room and it looks like Santa has visited…only in this case the real Santa is actually Amanda Holloway. Every attendee’s area was full of samples of her marketing and so much more. The class started at 9 am. I “assumed” it would be very easy. Amanda talks, we listen and on to lunch. Wrong. Amanda would talk and instantly you were alert and absorbing every word she had to say. Now I am not the type of person to sit still but I was riveted. She started out discussing the how and why of her marketing and her pricing structure. She had clear cut explanations for each collection and was sure to explain exactly how and why they were structured that way. Clearly I have been asleep in my business because I was blown away by her deeply introspective nature of her own spending habits and how she was able to translate that into her business. She pays attention to every little detail. I found myself glued to my seat until lunch.
By the time lunchtime came I could feel the wheels spinning. I was not expecting this. Surely it cannot keep up at this pace but it did. When we arrived at the restaurant for lunch, Amanda did a simple gesture that spoke volumes…she made everyone sit together. Tables were moved and reconfigured so everyone could be a part of the conversation. In fact we moved a lot of tables and chairs this trip! I was blown away by this one simple kindness. She did not want anyone left out. After lunch was over we ventured to her new office space so she could walk us step by step through an ordering session. All of her products were out for us to touch and feel. My to do list was getting longer and it was only 2 pm on the first day!
We went back to the classroom and started talking about shooting styles and working with models. At 4 we went to her hair and makeup artist’s salon to meet the models and see how Amanda chooses which outfits will be brought on location.
Then a workshop teachers worst nightmare happened…it started raining. Not just a sprinkle here and there but a full on thunderstorm complete with a tornado siren to add to the effect. What was going to be a 20 minute blow over turned into an hour downpour. Did she sweat it? No. She turned lemons into lemonade and we ended up at a cool parking garage and urban location. We had little light with the unexpected conditions but she quickly showed everyone how to maximize their light and rock the session. I was deeply impressed by her ability to think fast on her feet, especially since all the models had their hair and makeup complete. The weather eventually passed and we moved on to other locations.
I found during the shooting portion that the absolute most value was watching Amanda. While people were shooting she would walk around and discuss how the shot could be better and offer words of praise and encouragement to everyone. But in the instance where a pose might be just a hair off, watching her go in and perfect the photo was the true benefit. She is a true artist and “good enough will never be good enough for her”.
After the shoot ended at 8:30 we all went to dinner and one would think that after dinner we would be relaxing…Um no. We went back to the classroom and she taught us how she edits. By taught I mean step by step. We continued to work until 12:30.
Friday June 7
9 am came very early! We all met back in the classroom to learn about branding, packaging and reaching our target client. The psychology of how she handles her business is mind blowing. It is like the perfect chess game. She is 4 steps ahead at any given moment. To be honest it made my head hurt. I was in awe of her reasoning for each aspect of her business. She freely answered everyone’s questions right down to “what font is that on your marketing material?” She clearly was giving you the kitchen sink.
Lunchtime could not come fast enough. I needed a break. I realized I was overwhelmed (in an amazing way) with what could be applied to my business. After lunch we were back in the classroom to discuss our online presence.
At 4 we left to meet the models at Tonya’s studio for another day of shooting in various locations. Have you ever been to a workshop where it was a free for all? Well not at Amanda’s. She supplied 4 models for 9 attendees! There is no shooting over each other’s shoulder in the hopes of getting an image or two to use in your portfolio. She makes sure there are enough models available to make the experience enriched and comfortable. So this allows everyone to break off into groups of 2-3 people. Which promotes taking turns and helping each other. You leave with several different images for your portfolio. And you don’t feel like you had to fight your way in to get the perfect image. At the workshop you not only learned from Amanda, but also from your peers. Everyone was there to help and it was so refreshing to experience everyone’s “aha moments”. There were lots of light bulbs going off in everyone’s heads during this workshop!
At 8:30 we left for dinner and then headed back to the classroom to edit. Amanda was available to answer questions until 1:30 am that night. Yes you read that right. She walked around and watched each attendee edit and was there to answer any questions they had.
The beauty of Amanda is her strong desire to teach and have each and every person transform their businesses. I am sure you are thinking I took an entire notebook full of notes at this workshop. However because Amanda truly is invested in her attendees I took very few notes. You see every person who attends the Kitchen Sink Workshop receives a 353 page magazine full of screenshots of how she edits and everything she discusses. She even takes it one step further and supplies the attendees with a 8 gb flash drive full of her personal photo templates she has created, videos of how she edits, spreadsheets to assist you with pricing and just about anything else you can think of. This gift was huge. She literally has set up her teaching style to go home with you and walk you through it every step of the way. It is The Kitchen Sink.
I learned more than I ever dreamed possible in two days. I attribute this to Amanda’s excellent teaching style, her patience, and the amount of blood, sweat and tears she has put into creating the ultimate workshop experience. I have experienced in the past people who were afraid to share too much. Amanda not only gives you the keys to this business, but she takes the keys and opens the door for you.
I had a 15 hour drive home and spent that time prioritizing exactly what was really important to change in my business. I will admit the list is extensive but I am going to be implementing these things in the next year. I will also be doing two follow up blog posts…my business after the workshop at 6 months and one year. I cannot wait to share with you my results!
But for now I will leave you with some reviews from fellow attendees this past week…
I just returned from Texas after attending Amanda Holloway’s Kitchen Sink Workshop and all I can say is WOW! Let me say that one more time to be clear. WOW!!! She truly provided an absolutely sensational workshop experience. Now you might be thinking to yourself “sure, everyone who goes to a photography workshop for the first time says the same thing.” But I
can say with confidence that this is not the case here. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend four other workshops in addition to doing two different one-on-one mentoring days with well known photographers. Each of these experiences had many positive qualities but KSW really pulled it all together for me in a way that balanced the technical/art side with the business knowledge needed to run a successful photography business.
I was honestly floored about the AMOUNT of information that she shared with us. Literally every question that was posed was answered with a “we’ll get there” response and it WAS. Not only was it addressed, but it was included in the magnificent workbook she provided to each participant along with examples. I’m not talking fluff here. I’m talking examples of emails she
sends clients, the templates she uses for her marketing materials, her editing steps, where she purchases her materials and the costs etc. And she ALSO provides all the information on a flash drive to take home.
To be fair, Amanda has not been in business all that long – less than four years. And that, in and of itself, has gathered some debate about whether or not her success is “real.” But let me tell you that 1) it is real and 2) I don’t even CARE if it’s not real. Let’s pretend that she doesn’t even have any real clients and she put all this information together to sell workshops. It wouldn’t even matter to me because she has produced all this STUFF that is EXCEPTIONAL. I haven’t done any of this because I’m always “too busy.” But she has carved out some huge blocks of time and put together knock your feet off materials that make you gasp. That said, I have no doubts as to the success of her business. She told us to go ahead and ask the models what they thought of her. So we did. And they all felt the same. They LOVE her and all the girls at their schools are dying to have her do their senior photos. You could argue that she coached them to say this since they are getting images in exchange from modeling, but if you know anything about teens you know that they don’t fake enthusiasm all that well. We were convinced, to say the least. In addition, her hard drives were full of client folders and she shared lots of images she had taken over the year. Who would make that up??
The shoots she set up for us were also stupendous. The workshop is small – limited to eight participants. And she set up two evening shoots with four models each. We were actually rather lucky that a rainstorm moved through and forced us to shoot at a parking garage so we got to see her work in less than optimal conditions. And she nailed it. Her posing is to die for and it’s so eye-opening to see how fluidly she works with someone to bring out their best features. She has such a deep understanding of what looks good on the female body and takes her time to make everything perfect.
Truly, this might be one of the most important investments that I have ever made into my business. Will this skyrocket my business into the stratosphere? I’m not sure yet. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure I have the tenacity and perseverance to implement all the tools she has provided to me. But I understand that it’s only up to me now. It’s all there for me. She provided the blueprint and showed what could be done. She really couldn’t make this any easier but this stuff is hard and takes a serious dedication to the challenge. It’s not for everyone but anything great is worth working for too.
At one point, Amanda thanked God for giving her both the artistic knowledge to master the craft quickly and the business acumen to set herself apart from the competition. And I wholeheartedly agree. She was given a tremendous gift that you don’t often see in this industry. And she combined that gift with a determination to succeed that is also rare. But she’s willing to share everything she knows with you and send you down your own path, if you’re up to it. I have a lot of thinking to do now that I’m back home. I know all the participants feel the same. I’ll be forever thankful that I took the plunge and attended this workshop. It left me inspired, energized and in awe at what she has accomplished and what she shared with me. If you get the opportunity, do not pass up this workshop. Aside from attending the alumni workshop she provides annually, it just might be the very last workshop I take. It would be hard to imagine another experience surpassing this one.
Having been the relative “older person” at the workshop, both in age ( at 40) and in the business ( our studio has been around since 2008), I’ve been privileged to attend many workshops and conferences as a photographer. However, the Kitchen Sink Workshop was a new experience for me from start to finish. I have never, in my photography business, as a property management consultant, EVER attended a workshop with more thought and attention to detail than the Kitchen Sink Workshop. It brings to mind the phrase “God is in the Details”….really, Amanda Holloway takes this phrase to an entirely new level.
From the detailed informational packet, to the amazing workshop swag, to Amanda’s lecture time, Amanda lays it all out there for you. As a workshop participant, you are treated as if you are a boutique client, and it is in incredible experience. Amanda is as warm and welcoming as her online persona, she shares and teaches from the heart and does not skimp on the details. Honestly, I don’t think I had a favorite thing from the entire weekend, I loved the ENTIRE experience!!
I know, as a new photographer, it is often difficult, if not impossible to get any scrap of information out of these supposed “Industry Leaders”. They overcharge you, to sell you their services and templates….not Amanda. You can trust that she is telling you what worked for her, what has been proven time and time again, and she will answer any question you ask. She understands the technical details of the concepts she is explaining as it pertains to camera equipment of tricky lighting details. Amazingly, she can switch gears to then discuss the minutiae of your finances and break it down easily as to what needs to change. That is a rarity in this industry.
Overall, I had an excellent experience at the Kitchen Sink Workshop. I am very excited to start putting into practice what I learned, I’m looking forward to participating in the KSW group, and I am very much anticipating meeting up with some of the wonderful people I met at my KSW workshop at the Alumni Retreat! (And, really, how often can you say THAT about random strangers you met at a conference!? Never!!).
If I had to give advise to someone who was thinking of attending Amanda Holloway’s KSW, I would say “DO IT!!”. It will be thing you can do for your business and yourself as a photographer.
The Kitchen Sink Workshop with Amanda Holloway stretched me in ALL aspects of my business. It is an intense, hands-on learning experience that built my confidence and showed me how to target my ideal client. Amanda keeps your attention with her fun personality and sense of humor while diving in deep to marketing and the psychology behind it, branding continuity, and client management. She helps you create a pricing structure that will ensure you reach your financial goals in addition to demonstrating how she conducts a Premiere Ordering session.
Amanda had set up two amazing three-hour photo shoots with 3-4 models each day, so we were able to get hands-on personal experience and guidance in small groups of only 2-3 photographers. With the caliber of photographers that attend, not only do you get the expertise of Amanda Holloway, but also will create an invaluable network of talented, like-minded photographers. I went in thinking I would get a few ideas to tweak my business. I came out after two days believing that I now have the steps to transform my business and take it to the next level!
The Kitchen Sink Workshop was inspiring, challenging, intense and game changing all wrapped into one amazing experience. I went to Texas to work hard and Amanda made sure we did. As packed as our days were however I found myself sad that it was over so quickly. In an industry where photographers are scratching to stay on top to combat the number of individuals entering the same creative space, you typically find that no one wants to share what they know. They do this out of fear that someone will be better than they are. Amanda on the other hand has been incredibly generous and truly wants to see other photographers succeed. She was an open book and anything she didn’t talk about was “in the book”. The 300+ page book she provided along with a zip drive of templates, forms, actions, etc. blew me away. She’s a true professional and I would recommend this workshop to any advanced photographer looking to further their skills and business plan. On a personal note, I’ve been working for over seven years to turn my photography career into a full time income. Several obstacles have stood in my way and it always left me wondering when the game changing moment would come to help me over the hump. I believe this was it. Amanda instilled a lot of confidence in me. She helped me to understand that this is an achievable dream.