LIVE From the Create Photography Retreat!

In Master Photography Roundtable by Jeff HarmonLeave a Comment

Go to a Workshop/Conference!

We have said it on the podcast over and over, there is no better investment you can make in your photography than getting to a conference or workshop. Make it a goal right now that you will find one you can get to sometime in the next 12 months and then do it!

We hope it can work out for you to join us at the Create Photography Retreat in 2020 and if you would like to provide your input on where the Retreat should be held then take a 5 minute survey over at

What Does Salt Taste Like?

Brian Hansen, the owner and operator of the Create Photography Retreat, asked everyone the first day to think about how they would describe to a person who has never tasted salt what it is like. You just can’t really do it, it is something that has to be experienced yourself. He thinks, and we agree, that the Retreat is a little like that where photographers really don’t know what the experience is like and how much they will grow until they come and find out for themselves.

The Retreat is limited to a very small group of photographers very deliberately. The goal is to have an immersive experience without having to battle with thousands of photographers. Not only are there sessions available throughout the day, but very different from many conferences there are quite a few shooting opportunities.

Here were a few of the shooting opportunities from this year:

  • Pre-Retreat Workshops
  • Models in the desert
  • Astrophotography
  • Underwater
  • Flour shoot
  • High school baseball game
  • Rooftop wedding
  • Model bay with 4 different backgrounds and lighting setups that numerous models rotated through
  • Motorcycle gang of military veterans

We would love to have all of those who have ever attended a Retreat to comment here and in the Facebook group share their experience. You can check out some of the fun photos (including behind the scenes shots) by checking out the Instagram account @create_photography_retreat or by searching for #cpretreat.

Phil Roc – 3 Year CPRetreat Alumni

We asked Phil to come on the show to talk about his experience as a 3 time alumni to the Retreat. Phil has grown so much since his first time attending the Retreat when it first started that this year he helped to open and close the event, taught several sessions, and helped attendees in the model bay.

Phil is a tremendous example of what we hope attendees get out of the Retreat. He is a part-time professional photographer with a full time job outside of photography who is really making incredible photos of dancers. You should check out his incredible work on his website and his @phil_roc_kids.

Phil says that he came to the Retreat the first year because he wanted to meet the people from the podcast, which was great and so worth the expense and time. What he didn’t expect to get out of the experience was a group of photography friends that he talks with pretty much weekly. He has his A-Team of photographers to bounce ideas off of and go to with questions.

Now he wouldn’t miss the Retreat for anything because that is how he gets to be with his photographer friends!

Highlights From Day 1 at the 2019 Retreat

There is so much going on at the Retreat it is tough to cover it all, especially because Connor, Erica, and Jeff couldn’t be to everything. Here are some of the highlights we had through the first day when we recorded the episode:

  • Erica and Connor did their first Portrait Session workshop where they spent ten hours with eight attendees and work on composition to posing to lighting. Just every aspect of portrait photography and it was so much fun.
  • Jeff really enjoyed hearing Jenna Martin open up the retreat sharing her incredible journey as a photographer that has led to her being one of the world’s premiere educators in underwater photography. Check out Jenna’s work on her website and on her Instagram account @jennamartinphoto. You should check out her podcast Creative Chaos Podcast as well. We are going to have Jenna come on the show soon!
  • Jeff also loved spending as much time as possible in the model bay helping photographers who have NEVER done any flash photography. So much fun to see their faces when they create a photo with flash that looks amazing and even better that they know how it was setup because we walked them all the way through it so that they can now do it in their own!

Live Audience Q&A

Question from Meghan Stempel: Thanks for the Retreat and for the free content on the podcast! When might we expect a new Portrait Session episode?

Answer from Connor: We have several that are already recorded it is just a matter of finding the time to get the processed and published. It takes about 4 hours to process an episode and with my going back to school there hasn’t been as much time to work on them lately.

Question from Anthony Fuccella: What is the vision of this Retreat 5 years down the line? Insights on new ideas and what can we do to help out.

Answer from Brian Hansen (owner and organizer of the Retreat): The vision is a smaller even always, max of 250 people. Too large and we lose what this event is about. Vision board says that he wants to help 5,000 people become better photographers. Not through me alone, but through Jeff, Connor, and Erica helping attendees so that they can go out there and make incredible photos.

Within 5 years we want to have the event completely sold out with incredible presenters who fit the culture. In three or four years you may outgrow the Retreat, and that is great. We will always have community and friendship here.

It would be so great if within 5 years the numbers are so big that we have to do events twice a year, one on each coast.

The thing that will help us is to have you spread the word. Go back home and share your experience with other photographers. Go to your camera clubs and let them know. Share your story. Tag your awesome IG photos with #cpretreat.

Answer from Jeff: We all came to be doing what we are doing on the podcast by finding Jim Harmer’s excellent Improve Photography website and got good enough at this that we can now teach others. We hope that everyone can move on down the path towards mastering their photography.

Question from Drake Dyck: How have you found that doing podcasts and YouTube videos has affected your photography? Has it helped?

Answer from Connor: Absolutely. Teaching has helped me become a better photographer without question. You have to work harder and really make sure you understand things in order to teach it.

Answer from Jeff: Totally agree. We try very hard to make things sound very conversational but behind the scenes there are scripts and a lot of work to make sure we are prepared to produce an hour long show that is valuable. It helps me to understand the very technical and be ready so that I won’t miss the shot. That sunset is sometimes so fast that if you don’t have the technical down enough you will miss the shot. Making sure I understand it enough to teach it means I have to thoroughly understand it.

You don’t need to start a podcast or record YouTube videos to have this kind of help you, go look into joining a photo club and ask about presenting. That can do the same kind of thing.

Answer from Erica: It helps me to know where I have weaknesses and things I should improve. Things I do well just sort of happen most of the time, but taking that and making it a process that can be shared and communicated is a different thing.

Question from Patrick Cassidy: Printing. When I go home what kind of print should I look to do for the photos I created here?

Answer from Connor: Doesn’t really matter so much on the paper or the type of print, just make sure you do NOT have the lab do their own color correction. It may mean that you mess it up, but you will learn from it when you do the printing and the color correction yourself. I like metal prints the best by the way, so something to try.

Answer from Jeff: I haven’t liked printing a lot, as you will know if you have listened to the podcast. I have gone into printing myself a little just to make sure I learn it and get the benefit of learning that with my photography. Challenging myself. It isn’t cost effective at all to print yourself, but learning from it is much easier when you have the printer sitting on your desk and try things out. Worth it for me just to go through the exercise.

Answer from Erica: Consider where you are going to put the print and make sure you print it large enough. Print it bigger than you think you want it. We all think that prints are bigger than they end up being when they are on the wall.

Connor added here that a way to kind of visualize things a bit to help you get the right size of the print, check out Swift Galleries where you can see what the size of the print is going to look like in the room.

Suggestion for show topics from Hans Stangier: Would love to see you cover something besides the Adobe products. Any plans to cover something like Capture One?

Answer from Jeff: 90%+ of the listeners are using and asking questions about Adobe products. That is where the audience is and that is where I have experience. The other programs are pretty good and some offer features that aren’t there in the Adobe programs, but as I have given some other software a try they just don’t have everything I need.

It isn’t really very feasible for a photographer to stay up to speed on multiple programs all the time. I have tried to do that, and there just isn’t time for it.

That said, we do need to revisit this and for sure we need to do a show where Connor talks about Capture One.

Doodads of the Week

Erica: iPad. Been using it all week to do my presentations and to do some light editing.

Jeff: Godox AD200 ($300). Been my pick a few times now and I just have to pick them again this week with how they have been work horses in the model bay!

Connor: Natural light! It can actually be fun to shoot using natural light and not carry strobes out there.

Episode Sponors

This episode was brought to you by

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