An Autumn Styled Photoshoot Workshop

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One of the biggest things to happen in 2014 has been my dedication to learn photography inside and out. As I’ve gone along on this blogging journey, I’ve come to realize that photos can easily make or break a website, and so I’ve poured my soul (and much of my savings) into at least sort of mastering the art. I know that I have a lot left to learn, but thanks to wonderfully forthright friends like Liz, of Sincerely Liz Inc., and Mallory Benedict, I can safely say that my technique has come quite a long way since these types of horrific images circa 2011.

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Aside from upgrading my Canon Rebel to a new (at least to me) 7D just a few short months ago, I’ve also made it a point to amp up my advanced education. So, when I learned that Liz (again, of Sincerely Liz Inc.) and Hill City Bride were partnering up to give an Autumn Styled Photoshoot Workshop, it didn’t take long for me to decide that I needed to attend.

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So I packed my camera bag and bundled up to the hilt for the all-afternoon, all-outdoors workshop held on the grounds of Bella Rose Plantation in Lynchburg. The crisp autumn day was everything that it should have been (read: crystal clear, harvest-colored and punctuated by a gorgeous sunset), and Liz’s instruction made it some of the best money I’ve spent all year.

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Truth be told, I think the main advantage of my having taken the class was to have a few hours of unadulterated shooting. Sure, I have free reign in my studio, but it’s not everyday that I get to photograph a vintage dining table laid with fine china, reclaimed wine bottles and hundred-year-old silverware. I can only do so much in that tiny indoor room of mine.

Yes, while at the workshop, I had to play “musical vantage point” with the other workshop attendees trying to find just the right angle, but when we happened to have a giant field to meander around in, the effort was well worth it and hardly mattered at all in the moment.

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^^^We were all gasping over the invitation suite care of Wedding Paper Divas, and the flowers that were lovingly arranged by the team at bloom by Doyle’s ^^^

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After photographing the tabletop styled by Love Is in the Air, our bride and groom arrived. Now, going into this, I knew that the workshop was largely geared towards wedding photographers, but I decided to try my hand at fitting in anyway since I felt like I could hold my own when it came to the styled half of the shoot. Once all was said and done though and after I started to go through my files later that night, I think my favorite subject of the day was actually the couple. I know! I was surprised, too! I had a blast pretending to be a wedding photog for the night, but then again people as pretty as these two make it easy to fake it.

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It was incredibly thrilling to step out of my comfort zone, even despite the fact that I mainly photographed from the background while my fellow classmates who have experience in this arena did all of the directing. The light, the dress, the hair, the tux—it’s the stuff of dreams. Oh, and did I mention that there was a kitten? Wearing a bow tie? This is unprecedented stuff, folks.

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As we wound down the evening, we settled back in around the tablescape for a few final portraits. The light was all but gone at this point and after working my way through two memory cards (plus one of Liz’s), I could feel the work catching up to me. Those of you who photograph weddings for a living: this new vantage point of mine has solidified all of you as heroes in my mind.

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Before my fellow workshop participants, instructors and I all settled down to a candlelit dinner in the woods (the final bullet point on the workshop itinerary), I managed to snap a quick photo of the dreamy tablescape. It looks completely different under cover of night, huh? To Hill City Bride and Liz—this was an afternoon, evening and night to remember. And to all of the amazing vendors (listed and linked to at the end of this post)—Lynchburg is a worthy place to live because of you.

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Here’s to 2015 and photos that (hopefully!) continue to inch their way up from “meh” to “YEAH!” status.

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