New “Magnum” Strobes from Aputure… and They Rock!

New “Magnum” Strobes from Aputure… and They Rock!

Remember Dirty Harry… he had a Magnum too. And when he pulled it out and asked the punk if he felt lucky, he created a legendary phrase that lives on and on.

And now it is your turn to get lucky… with these pretty damn cool strobes from Aputure. Full disclosure: they sent me a pair of these to use and I am very excited to tell you that they are pretty darn cool light. (NOTE: You can see my TOS/Disclosure Info right here on the site.)

I have been working with speedlights for a long time, and while they were not my first choice, I have been doing so many more things in the studio with them. A bunch of speedlights in grid spots is so much fun to play with.

The "Magnum" line of speedlights from Aputure sure impressed the heck out of me. The absolute simplicity of the operation is superb.

The “Magnum” line of speedlights from Aputure sure impressed the heck out of me. The absolute simplicity of the operation is superb.

In the image above you see both flavors of the Magnum Flash units. On the left is the MG-68TL – a full ETTL solution flash for your DSLR. My chosen sub-flavor is Canon. On the right  is the MG-68 Manual Flash unit… and I really like these all manual flashes.

First up, let’s discuss the manual MG-68.

From a 4 sec recycle time, external power port enabling 2 second flash recycle, direct brightness control, 3 different flash modes, optical slave sensor, to power saving mode, and PC sync port, these lights have most everything you need to make it a part of your gear choice.


1. 4 Seconds to Recycle to Full Power
2. Manual Flash Power from Full to 1/128 (One Stop Increments)
3. 3 Flash Modes(M/S1/S2)
4. Optical Sensor
5. Power Saving Mode
6. External Power Port
7. PC Sync Port
8. Overheating Protection

First up are the three different modes on this flash: Manual, S1, S2.

Full manual is the way I use my flashes. S1 is the optical slave mode, and I tested mine all the way across my studio with the skylights open and it fired every time – even when tilted up toward the skylight, and even when the slave was turned toward the side wall. I am a big fan of optical slaving in the studio.

S2 is very cool. It ignores the pre-flash on ETTL and fires in optical mode on the second flash. This works really well as an off-camera flash for point and shoots.

Apeture "Magnum Flashes"

Each unit is packaged with a soft, cloth bag. These will keep your lights looking good for quite a while.

The build quality feels very good. The finish on the units is very satin like to the touch, and the units have some weight to them that makes them feel much more substantial than some other units I have tested.

The control on the MG-68 is one of the best and fastest control UI I have seen. Simplicity itself, there is an on switch, a mode switch, an easy to push “pilot” button (flash) and a zoom button. The flash is already set to change power when you turn it on, and by clicking on the zoom, a green light comes up  in the panel and you toggle it quickly to the zoom setting you want.

Another feature that I am very pleased with is that when I turn it on, it goes immediately to 1/16 power, zoomed to 35MM. One click to 1/8  power, or one click to 1/32 power. Most of the time I use these flashes they are not on full power, so having the unit come up in the middle of the range makes so much sense to me. (Me of the infamous “Wizwow Rope Meter”… heh)

And for keeping the units from being scratched in your bag, they come in a very sturdy soft bag with draw string closures.

"Magnum" flashes by Apeture.

The design is similar to most makers of on-camera flash. On the left is the TTL version and on the right is the full manual version.

The front of the units are nearly identical, and are pretty much in the style of speedlights from most other manufacturers.

Magnum Flashes in TTL and Manual.Versions

Both Magnum Flashes in TTL and Manual.Versions have a very solid diffusion screen for ultra wide lenses, and an optional “popper” for adding catchlights in bounced light situation.

The units have both a wide angle diffuser and a “catchlight” panel. Great for bouncing flash when on camera or subtle washes when off camera as a second unit. Both also ship with a typical “foot” mount for standing the flash as well as a small user manual that is pretty concise.

The "Magnum" Flash line - back side of flashes

Controls are neatly laid out, and the ease of setting power/zoom could not be better. I love the intuitive nature of the interface.

Let’s talk about the MG-68TL.

1. 4 Seconds to Recycle to Power
2. Manual Flash Power from Full to 1/128 (1/3 Stop Increments)
3. 5 Flash Modes(TTL, M, Stroboflash, S1, S2)
4. Optical Sensor
5. Power Saving Mode
6. External Power Port
7. PC Sync Port
8. Overheating Protection
9. Settings Recall (remembers where you left it set after last use)

I usually do not use TTL when shooting, but I felt I should test it out on my camera for this review.


As a matter of fact, I was having a blast with on-camera TTL shooting stuff – and buds – all over the studio.

You can expect to have all the control you would normally have with 1-3 incremental power settings. The Manual, S1 and S2 settings are the same as the MG-68.

And the interface is so simple, you will most likely not need the manual. (Now that is a far cry from many of the strobes out there with 2″ manuals and more settings than I would ever need.) For my shooting, I want simple and direct.

Magnums deliver that.

The “Stroboflash” feature is really fun. This is a repeating flash setting for making multiple flashes on a single frame. Think “stroboscopic” and you will know exactly what this setting does.

Now for some nitty gritty… the way they work when shooting.

First, there was not a single misfire in an afternoon of fairly heavy testing. I used the Aputure triggers for part of the test, and the Commlite triggers for another part. Both trigger sets worked exactly perfect… and that was very cool.

Both units have guide numbers of 48. I learned a long time ago that those numbers may or may not mean a lot when I am actually making photographs.

So to get a precise idea of the power, I measured out to f-4 at ISO 100 with the flash at 1/8 power and the zoom setting at 50MM. (Wizwow’s famous string meter setting.)

In order to get an idea of what the numbers would mean, I took a first reading with my LumoPro 160 (still a favorite flash for me… I love those things – have two.) I then followed up with the Magnum at the same settings. To get an f-4 reading with the two flashes the distances are noted below.

F-4, ISO 100, 1/8 Power, Zoom at 50MM

90″ for LumoPro 160
107″ for Apeture Magnum

(In other words, you could use a string at 107″  to make the “rope meter” and be very close to dead on.)

Magnum flashes were a bit more powerful… 17 inches longer to expose f-4.

This puts the units at roughly the same power point as a Canon 580. Maybe slightly less, but more than the Canon 430.

Spread of light is as one would expect from these small flashes, and by zooming the flash out (tighter spread) you can gain an additional 2/3 of a stop. I tested them in my three favorite speedlgiht modifiers, and they performed well. Those modifiers are the Kacey Beauty Dish, Gamilight 43, and the Westott Apollo 28.

Bottom Line: I like these flash units. I am purchasing another MG-68 very soon, and they will round out my speedlight kit. They will be offered soon through E-Bay, Amazon and LinkDelight.

Current Scheduled Pricing:
MG-68: $79
MG-68TL: $129

Current Main Kit:
2 – Magnum MG-68’s
1 – Magnum MG-68TL
2 – LP 160’s
Additional Kit
1 Canon 55o EZ
1 Canon 580 EX
1 Canon 430 EZ
1 LP 120
2 Sunpack “old timers”…

Yep – I can get a lot done with this set of portable strobes.

If you are looking for a great flash unit, with a dead simple interface and total ease of use, you should definitely check out these Aputure Magnum Strobes.

NOTE: They will be available soon. Look for them by the first of August.


I was recently on creativeLIVE and have received some rave reviews of the workshop. If you are interested in taking a look at the workshop, you can find it on creativeLIVE’s web site here. I think it is a tremendous value and if you are unable to attend any of my workshops, this may give you a ton of information you will want to have to push your photography to the next level.

Anatomy of a Shoot in the Middle of Nowhere…

Anatomy of a Shoot in the Middle of Nowhere…

“Well, ya’ll could ride with me if you want…”

He was walking toward us from his pickup truck in the cold, early morning light of Florence, Arizona. Wide brimmed cowboy hat and real cowboy boots. And he was all smiles.

Florence is a very small town southeast of Phoenix, and also the home of our state prison. We were standing in front of a little market that was preparing to open. “We” were myself, Jon Gabriel, art director and marketing guy for the Goldwater Institute, and Bob Dunn, Arizona rancher.

We were out to make a photograph of him and a fellow rancher that had just completed a 10 year study on land use and the Desert Tortoise. It had started with a problem and they had worked tirelessly to the end… a good end for them.

And the desert tortoises of Central Arizona.

“It isn’t that far from Florence, but it there is some dirt road,” Bob smiled as he shook my hand.

It was cold and cloudy, but I declined. I had a lot of gear in the car and if it did rain, it could be a problem in the back of his pickup truck.

We followed Bob out along a small paved road for about 20 miles before we turned south on a wide, paved, semi-washboarded road. Directly in front of us was a mountain range and directly over it were some very ominous clouds.

I was thinking we would turn in at each ranch we came to, but we kept on chugging up that road… farther and farther into the desert.

No bars. Yep, we were without cell phones and the storm clouds had mustered up quite a rain for us. It poured like crazy and we slowed to about 30 mph as we bounced over washboards and flew through running creek beds.

We didn’t have to suffer the rain long though.

It quickly turned to snow.

Yes… snow in the Arizona Desert. I mentioned that it was pretty cold, right?

The “bit of dirt road” turned into about 50 miles of dirt road. Hard, dirt road. I was beginning to think it would have been wise to check the gas tank before heading out this far into nowhere, but I figured they would have some gas at the ranch if I needed it.

I don’t know why I thought that, it just felt good to think about as we were without cell phones on a now tiny dirt road way far into the desert in a snow storm.

Finally we headed up a hill and around the bend into a wonderfully grand house in the middle of a rustic, working cattle ranch. We were greeted with an astonished… “You drove THAT all the way up here?”

I guess PT Cruisers were not the choice of ranches where the roads were less than hospitable. Who knew?

(As to why I am driving a PT Cruiser… it is a long and painful story.)

We were invited in for lunch and to wait out the misting snow and rain, and we met some of the nicest, and smartest, folks around. There were a lot of PHD’s in that room of ranchers. More than one each. Land Management, Sustainable Ranching, Land Use and Water Rights…

As I said, some really smart guys.

As fast as it came in, the rain dissipated and we headed outside for the shoot.

We had chewed up about an hour waiting for the rain to subside and both of the guys wanted to get back to work.

I grabbed my two bags, one camera bag and my Standbagger Grab-n-Go with two speedlights, two stands, a mini boom, two umbrellas and a set of triggers. In the car was my Profoto kit with an extra battery, four stands, a larger boom, some modifiers and two additional sets of triggers.

Camera wise, it is the same kit I carry for nearly every shoot. Canons, an assortment of lenses from 20MM – 200MM and my Minolta Meter.

I set the gear up on the porch and moved it to the very saturated grass as I built the lighting. I used a couple of speedlights on a boom, and radio triggers to fire them.

Radio triggers that didn’t seem to want to cooperate in the still misting air.

A quick trip to the car for my backup kit, and we were up and ready for that first test shot.

“Thanks” they said and started to walk off.

We said we were coming up to do a picture of them and I just did one.

Ranchers near Superior, Arizona, 2012

This was from the first set of images we did on the little bluff. Behind them and out of sight was the stables area, and I loved the clearing storm clouds for the backdrop.

We explained that I will probably do several more shots and I got the sneaking suspicion that they then figured I must be new if I have to take more than one.

Sometimes I feel the same way.

I did a shot of Bob and Walt (Meyer) on a little spit of land overlooking his stables and then I realized that this big ol’ tree was just the thing I needed to give the image a bit more context.

Still using the speedlights, we got them under the tree and relaxed, talking about the land and the great weather we were having. Right on cue, the dog joined us. We also included Walt’s daughter, Katie Cline in this shot as she was a big part of the study.

I got six shots, and the shoot was over.

“Got lots to do…”

I was shooting to a square format, as the original designs were to be square. A change in design meant a change in the imagery, but that was not a problem. I shot with some room around the subjects to give the art director some wiggle room with the images.

Here is the image as was used in the 2011 Goldwater Institute Annual Report.

Goldwater Institute Annual Report Photograph by Don Giannatti

And here is the original image as shot.
Goldwater Institute Annual Report Photograph by Don Giannatti - no crop

Sometimes you get all the time you need to shoot, and other times you better be prepared for not having much time at all. This was unique as after driving for nearly two and a half hours, I would have expected to have a bit more time. But that was not the case. The storm had eaten into my shoot time, and now it was down to a matter of a few minutes.

In the end we got nearly 30 shots total – including the test shots. There were so many places and ideas that I had wanted to do that it was a bit disappointing that I couldn’t keep shooting.

The final shot looked pretty good, and the client liked it a lot. So I count this as a successful shoot. This was one of six portraits we shot for the annual report, and all of them were unique in their own way. I may share some of those stories as well.

I really enjoyed this shoot, and working with Jon was a blast. We made it out of the mountains and to a gas station with no problem and by the time we were back in Phoenix there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.


I was recently on creativeLIVE and have received some rave reviews of the workshop. If you are interested in taking a look at the workshop, you can find it on creativeLIVE’s web site here. I think it is a tremendous value and if you are unable to attend any of my workshops, this may give you a ton of information you will want to have to push your photography to the next level.

In Tall Trees

I spent a couple of days in the forests and mountains around Seattle a few weeks ago. I hope to go again.

I am a desert guy. Lived in the deserts most of my life, and I find them fascinating – maybe due to my design predilection for minimalism. Not sure really, but the ability to see hundreds of miles from the Vermilion Cliffs, or to watch a the sun set over vast distances of open earth is something of a wonder to me.

I also find that deserts are hard to photograph. Well, at least hard to photograph well.

Some have been able to make astounding photographs of the desert southwest, but I am still working on it.

So get me in an area where you cannot see more than a couple dozen yards through thick, dark, and somewhat mysterious forest, and it is a whole new ballgame.

We took the “Mountain Loop” road out of Granite Falls, WA, and set out to just be three guys with cameras having fun. And we did. Charles, Bret and I spent a good long time not saying much, just taking in the wonderful environment.

And the quiet. The incredible quiet.

Rock and Tree: Washington State

I thought this was so interesting. The tree had obviously gained a foothold in a small crevasse on the rock. As it grew, it split the rock and enveloped it with the roots and trunk. Note: there are chains and other human artifacts on the rock, and I don’t move this stuff when I shoot.

It was a semi-cloudy day, and I was struck by how little light made it through to the ground. I had to bump some ISO as I looked for some interesting things to photograph.

I didn’t really have to look that far, but I did have to think about the light. Lots of contrast in the scenes. With the sun being nearly full on, and the dark backgrounds that were naturally occurring, I did have to think closely about exposure and processing.

Aspen trees against the backdrop of forest.

You can see the widely varying exposure from the light cloud cover foreground, the white Aspen trees and the dark forest just beyond. I like the way it seems to make heroes of our intrepid trees.

The silence of the area was punctuated by the sounds of birds and rushing water. Everywhere there were small creeks leading to larger ones with waterfalls. Below us was a river that flowed with abandon with rapids seemingly at every turn.

Rivers with water in them… coming from Phoenix, I can tell you how rare that is there. LOL.

Erosion and Tree Roots, Cascades: Washington State

Rushing water can take its toll as well. A slide has taken this trees base and washed it away. The exposed roots hang far above the water’s edge. Tenaciously it hangs on… but for how long?

I was also in love with the forest floor. So many colors of green mixed with the light that would fight its way through.

There are places where thoughts run to change, and the patterns of a fast moving world. And there are places that give us pause to consider that not everything moves at that pace. Some things take their time.

Time. One of the most misunderstood values of our lives.

I see people wasting it, taking it for granted, and ignoring its value all around me.

I see it in myself.

The forest floor takes its time. Things happen slowly there, and with great purpose. And while that purpose may be not totally revealed to me, or you, it is still the guiding hand.

At the Forest Floor: Cascades, Washington State

Light, shadow, design and purpose. Are there metaphors in the images we are drawn to make? Do we see beyond the surface with our subconscious and make photographs that have a deeper meaning than the pretty colors?

The image as metaphor? The image as an allegory, as Minor White suggested?

Yes, I think so… but I also know that the allegories can have different meanings for each that view. Perhaps the underlying basis is there, but the stories we tell ourselves are different from each other.

As similar as the leaves in the above photograph, but upon close inspection no two leaves will be an exact match – and that is where the true understanding of the allegory comes into focus.

I have no idea what your story will be when you see my photographs. I only want to make photographs that are capable of creating a story inside you.

One last image and I am off to a busy Saturday.

Pines on the Olympic Peninsula

We found these trees on a road through the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. I will post more images from that trek at a later date. I felt the image belonged with this group, though, so I included it.

Yes, I kind of fell in infatuation with the forests and mountains of Washington State. It would remain to be seen if I could actually go from the wide open spaces to something so nearly claustrophobic as these mighty forests.

I don’t know. My affinity for the desert, its dry wind and open skies is pretty deep.

But I do love the forests, I do.



I was recently on creativeLIVE and have received some rave reviews of the workshop. If you are interested in taking a look at the workshop, you can find it on creativeLIVE’s web site here. I think it is a tremendous value and if you are unable to attend any of my workshops, this may give you a ton of information you will want to have to push your photography to the next level.

Increased Client Interaction is Better Than The Alternative…

Increased Client Interaction is Better Than The Alternative…

Think about it… the more you interact with your clients, the more your clients see you as a part of their business.

No, I am not talking about stalking, or going overboard with emails, mailers, phone calls, texts, tweets and facebook status thingies… I am talking interaction.

Too many photographers live in a bubble… work, deliver, wait for more work. It is very passive, and these days passive may not be the best way to get more work.

Increasing your client interactions could help get you remembered and top of mind when assignments come in. Staying in the game so to speak, being ‘engaged’ in the work you and they do is more exciting anyway.

Add to that the fact that people love to work with busy people, keeping your clients abreast of your new work, published images and personal projects is another way of letting them know that you are constantly creating new work.

You want to make sure that you aren’t overdoing it, and random calls of “hey… what’s up” are going to lead to “I’m sorry, he’s not in at the moment” calls… got it!

So we have to figure out when it is appropriate and proper to make contact with the client without making them hostile

Consider these points of contact. All of this comes after the initial assignment, what goes before is the topic of myriad posts.

1. A note just before the shoot keeping the client confident that all production is on schedule, locations locked down, MUA’s and craft services set, and more.

2. Deliver the images with a personal note about the shoot… what went well, how excited you are to be working on this project. This note can accompany the electronic delivery as well as any other kind, so don’t forget it.

3. BTS shots /videos are fun for your blog visitors, as well as for your clients. Taking a few great snaps showing everyone hard at work, having fun, CREATING the work is a great ‘share’ opportunity for your client. And of course, for you.

4. A personal note after the shoot was accepted… NOT an email, a personal note – on paper – in ink. Seriously. This is another way to put a new image in front of the client you just worked for.

5. Finished off a new portfolio, or story on your site? Great, let your clients know by sending a link. “Here is a new set of images I just finished for…” They have hired you in the past for your creativity, so why not show it off when you get a chance. (Thinking that clients are checking your website every week to see what is new is fallacy. They aren’t.)

6. Did you see something in a magazine or online that you KNOW the AD/Editor would love to see… great. Send them a note or a DM and let them know about it. This one is a bit tricky, as you MUST know that they would be interested. (You know how you find that stuff out? You listen… listening to what they are interested in is part of the fun of this business. We meet talented and fascinating people at every turn.) Do this rarely, as it has more impact when it is rare.

These are all ideas that can help you stay in front of your clients, and even some who are not yet clients, but that you have some rapport with.

However, there is one big caveat… these are NOT ploys or tactics. You should have a general interest in sharing your work, working with the clients and being interested in them and their work. If you are not, these will seem stilted and boring and – in the end – do more damage to your work than help it.

Be genuine and real… and remember that it is far easier to keep a client than to develop a new one.

Have you developed any new ways to keep your work in front of clients? Share if you like…

On Workshops, Scams, Manners and Foolish Ideas

On Workshops, Scams, Manners and Foolish Ideas

My friend Seshu, a photographer and owner of the website, recently posted this article: “Gary Fong Wonders If Photo Workshop Instructors Can Handle The Truth” (link)

(An admonition to the gentle reader – this is a very long post. There are some points that simply take some time to make. I am a wordy fellow, and this time it did get the best of me. If you have no interest in contracts and workshops and the relationship of teachers to students, I beg of you to move on. It is a lovely Sunday morning!)

Seshu, in his article, referenced this tweet by Gary Fong:

Tweet by Gary Fong. This image is linked to the document that he has linked in the tweet.

The document is a very poorly constructed ‘contract’ for prospective workshop attendees to send to workshop leaders. If one is thinking of attending a workshop, one must only have to send this document to get the skinny on the real motivations of the workshop leader.

This is the document as linked in Fong’s tweet. It seems to be named “DISCLOSURE DECLARATION: PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP INSTRUCTOR” and has information to be filled out and mailed back to the prospective student.

Yeah… mailed back.

I think the whole thing is probably a good idea wrapped in a terrible presentation.

We can all agree that there are terrible workshops out there. Terrible. We can all agree that instead of helping the students they can instead actually harm them; bad information, wasted time and resources and unrealistic goals.

Not a week goes by that I am not made aware of yet another workshop put on by someone who has just started photography, or has really nothing much to offer. But they do – at $1500 a head.


I did workshops for about four years. I have recently taken a sabbatical from doing them for a multitude of reasons. At this writing I have only two workshops on the books for the rest of the year: Peoria, Ill (arranged by a third party) and my new “Emerging Photographer” workshop which is being held free for a select group of photographers from all over the country.

So at this point I have no real dog in this hunt… but I am a bit concerned.

First for some overall points:

  1. Fong’s document seems to be based on that tired old bullshit of “Those Who Can Do, Those Who Can’t Teach”. The refutation of that obviously stupid statement is everywhere. Some of our greatest teachers have not actually been that successful in their art, but have been FANTASTIC teachers. I am thinking of some of my wonderful composition teachers Ronald LoPresti and David Cohen. Tina Modotti was a most incredible teacher, and few are even aware of her work. There was a time that you simply couldn’t consider yourself a real photographer if you hadn’t studied with her. Nadia Boulangerwas considered to be one of the greatest influences on composers during the mid 20th Century… if you were a serious composer you packed up and studied with her for a few years in Paris. I ask you when the last time it was you heard her music?

    You see – TEACHING is a profession all its own. One can be a wonderful teacher, and not actually be a wonderful artist… as the gift or fascination is with the teaching. Wonderful teachers are to be respected, not humiliated with vitriol and poorly thought out ‘truisms’.

  2. The  Document is in effect a “calling out” of the workshop teacher. It is confrontational, invasive and simply put – rude. Yes, yes, I know that these days rudeness is considered cool and shit – but I am not fond of it as a lifestyle. Or a business relationship.Knowing me I would simply not respond. We do have telephones, Google, websites, portfolios, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, email, texting and a whole bunch of other ways of contacting someone. Without such a confrontational tone.
  3. The information asked for bears little relation to the actual ability of the instructor to teach a good workshop. I certainly know some very high income photographers who would simply suck the suck out of suck at teaching. Teaching is an art in itself, and not one that every “successful” photographer (or any artist) has built in. If you think someone’s income has any bearing on how well they are capable of teaching answer me this question…

    How much do the teachers where you send your children make? If income transfers to being a great teacher, we may have some serious issues with where we send our children. Of course there are marvelous teachers in schools… because they ARE TEACHERS. If we were to gauge them on their salaries and world experience most may fall terribly short – and yet inspire our kids.

Nitty Gritty:

Words mean something. Words have definitions that we all agree on.

In the legal world, words have absolute meanings.

The document asks that the photographer divulge his/her earnings with this admonition:
“be accurate, do not estimate”

Those are some absolutes there, folks. Bear this in mind as we continue… the form is asking you for an absolutely accurate number. What does absolutely accurate mean? It means to the penny.

There is also a space for the amount earned in one’s highest year. Since there is no differentiation between gross and net, we must assume that the answer is net. Fine.

If you have been a photographer and you have been one for a few decades, you will have to go back through years of records to answer this “accurately” because if you do not, you are opening yourself up to a lawsuit. (Yeah, I know… the US is not all that sue-happy and frivolous lawsuits are a fictionalize scenario… you go with that. Be happy.)

But you are asked to sign and VERIFY that you are 100% accurate. Keep in mind that in contract law, I could then ask for all documentation to support this contract. Yep – you would have to deliver tax returns and bank records for decades of your work. I can depose you again and again… all I need is a penny off. (Sure – Don is talking wild here! Yes, I am – but it is totally possible whether or not it would come to fruition.)

Understand that contract law is VERY specific.

It then asks this incredibly strange question:

“Amount of Average Sales” with the same admonition: “be accurate, do not estimate” – BE ACCURATE on an Average?

I am frankly surprised there is not a space for “Show the work”.

And again – if someone decides to challenge you on this, you will indeed have to SHOW THE WORK.

Got it?

Now we get to what essentially amounts to a guarantee that if the guy takes my workshop he will make more money.

“Do You Represent That You Will Provide Training / Skills That Will Increase My Income?”


What if he takes my workshop and doesn’t do a thing I told him to do? Answer – he sues me.

Where is the guarantee that the student will do what we teach them, and hey – and – is every workshop about making money?

Now we come to the part where he asks you to break any confidentiality you may have with vendors and sponsors.

“Please List Sponsors And The Compensation You Will Receive For This Program (If Tradeouts, Disclose Fair $ Amount)”

Photographer A may have a different compensation package than Photographer B… and the sponsor may not wish for them to know that difference. So there are non-disclosure forms that you are now being asked to breach.

Yeah – that’ll happen.

One last thing – The “perjury” clause… if you falsify the document in any way you may be guilty of “Perjury”…

To who?

Perjury is lying under oath – no oath was given here. It further cheapens an already poor attempt to humiliate and belittle people who may have done nothing more than offer to teach.

There is NO PERJURY – however there is the onerous third paragraph… the one that simply states that IF anything in the form was misleading, the student can use it in civil action.

So you are opening yourself up for an exploratory “discovery” by anyone who wants to pull your tax records and accounting statements for as long as you have been in business. And, due to a terrible understanding of contract law, they can do that in THEIR city with you having to show up for depositions and court appearances in another state.

No one in their right mind would sign this in my opinion  – and my opinion is not to be construed as LEGAL ADVICE under any and all circumstances. (If you feel that there is legal merit in the form, I would simply ask that you have your attorney glance it over before signing. As you would ANY document that asks you to verify with consideration of litigation that your answers are “accurate”.)

Are there terrible workshops? Again – absodamnlutely.

I have been to a few given by some big – big – names and found them to be awful. Egos the size of lower Manhattan mixed with a total inability to transfer information. But WTF – they are super awesome on the internet and have a ton of twitter followers, so it must have been me.


Well – we have the internet, blogs, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and a plethora of places to make our concerns known. We can ask for references. I was always happy to comply, and even put blog posts about my workshops – good or bad – online. If the photographer is really in the business of education, there will be testimonials, a guide, references and a biography.

(HINT – this may not be a good workshop:
“I started photography three years ago and now me and my fabulous wife are now, like doing these EPIC weddings, and driving, like, a new sports car and we have some awesome dogs and we are simply bubbling over with perkiness. Take our fantabulous workshop where we will do some awesome photo stuff and you can learn how to:

  • Use your camera knobs and things
  • Lighting? You don’t need no lighting – we’ll show you how to fix it all in Photoshop
  • ‘Spray and Pray” isn’t bad, but people use it for bad.
  • How to overcharge for mediocre work – hey, the clients are really to stupid to care
  • Perky and Hip – my two most important assets
  • Choosing the right accessories for photo shoots (No sillies, not camera stuff – ear rings, and heels…)
  • Using a light for a headshot… amazing results with NO knowledge of light needed.
  • Why the chicks dig me – and why they will dig you too (let me show you how to get more work with NO EFFORT on your part – just a little “Italian” lingo…)”

If a workshop is a rip off, let everyone know about it. If the instructor is late, or what is promised not delivered, let the instructor AND the rest of the photo community know about it.

It is very difficult to understand the problem when there is actually so little evidence. Yes, there are terrible workshops – but very few ever complain. In fact, at one of the “big name” workshops I attended the students loved it. The teaching was mediocre when it was good, and the information so erratic and in many cases wrong, that it had little value. No matter – the chicks were, like, HOTT.

Yeah – I am putting some of the blame right back on workshop students who do not DEMAND more. Workshop attendees who come to the workshops and leave and put NOTHING of the instructors ideas, methods, or instructions to use do not have the right to a refund.

Do you think they do?

Do you see this problem as totally on the workshop teachers with NO responsibility at all from the people who go?

Workshops are one of the best way to learn something, find a new way of doing something, increase awareness, meet others who are passionate about what you are, and come away with solid, real world, information.

To see them as a sector be denigrated over and over again troubles me. While I understand the frustration with bad workshops, I do highly question this method of dealing with them. We are capable people – and far too capable to need this sort of thing to further denigrate our industry. But I would love to hear your thoughts.

My answers to the workshop questionnaire are all over my sites… and no, I am not giving you my home phone number.