Vintage Photography Workshop Recap

Vintage Photography Workshop Recap
This entry is part of 13 in the series Vintage Car Workshop

In October 2013 I collaborated with Clean Cut Creations to host a vintage styled photography workshop with classic cars. It was quite an adventure and a very ambitious project!

This retro photography workshop was originally supposed to include 10 models and 10 sets, and we paid all the models minimally $10 an hour. The original date was supposed to be October 12, 2013, but it rained. We went ahead and shot model Linzy Anna because she had already made the 3 hour drive from Kansas City. 1 model couldn’t make it. Another model became hostile when we had to shoot on the rain date, so we told her not to come. The scheduled hair and makeup artist could not make the rain date, so I ended up doing most hair and makeup (model Amy Mooney/ShoobyDuwop helped considerably with the retro hair styling).

We planned this photography workshop for at least 3 months, printed out flyers, and distributed them around St. Louis. We also posted on Craigslist, ModelMayhem, Facebook, and online forums. The response was, honestly, lukewarm.

Clean Cut Creations arranged to have a gallery showing in April 2014, of the best pictures from this shoot. We hoped that this would entice paying photographers, if the unique sets and popular St. Louis models didn’t!

Ultimately, no paying photographers showed up, and me and Clean Cut Creations were both out considerable money.

Here is what I would have done differently:

  • I would have had a confirmation date for X paying photographers, needed to break even. If nobody confirmed and paid by that date, I would have offered to shoot the models TF (for portfolio) and not paid. Perhaps even opened it up to models in general, for a unique portfolio building day, with a suggested $XX to cover the catered lunch, makeup, and other “real costs”.
  • I have mixed feelings about having paid the models for this, period. It is truly disappointing to believe in someone so much that you pay them, and then find out that they work for free.
  • I would not have let anyone not financially contributing and not actively helping out, take pictures at this event. Clean Cut Creations let one of their male photographer friends shoot, for free, and he got to shoot the models before I got to shoot them. I was busy styling and arranging wardrobe. With either fewer models showing up since the shoot would have been changed to unpaid, I would have had more time to shoot, or the models would have had to be patient and wait.
  • I would have timed this shoot differently. As a brand, I did this photography workshop as ReverieRevel, right after the Living Social deal I’d put out expired. LivingSocial diluted my brand from retro photography to boudoir, and I wish I would have rebranded last year instead of this year. In retrospect, I should have done this as VintageReveries.
  • I wish that I would have placed much more emphasis on my expertise with vintage and retro styling and wardrobe. My contributions were a key part of this photography workshop, and really what made it unique. Without my awesome wardrobe and ability to do basic makeup and direct the creative flow of each set, this would have been another shoot with pretty girls and old cars.
  • With the gallery show of work from this event, at the Third Degree Glass Factory, I wish I had taken a more assertive leadership role and had had the courage to step on some toes in order to maintain my artistic integrity, vision, and high end brand. At the event, I should have mixed and networked more instead of being such a wall flower.
  • I feel that something went wrong with marketing this, but I am not sure what I would have done differently, knowing what I knew a year ago.

Here is what went amazingly:

  • The models! The models who did show up were great to work with, creative, and versatile. There was minimal grumbling, and everyone acted professionally while I was present.
  • The catered lunch! Clean Cut Creations had light snacks and sandwiches to eat whenever. This is great when you are physically active (as a model or a photographer) and snacking between sets.
  • The sets and the venue. Each model posed with a car that was period accurate to her costume. This was pretty cool and unique. Clean Cut Creations has around an acre of property, and there was plenty of space to create different photography sets in.
  • The wardrobe. It came together, between what the models brought along, my extensive vintage wardrobe, and what we repurposed into different eras.
  • The photos I got. Even going thru them over a year later, I think I did my best and that I got some of my best work to date.
  • The experience of hosting, co-organizing, and styling a photography workshop. This was a great skill builder, I know I can do it, and it was a great “first time” experience. Now I know what goes into organizing a professional photography workshop!

All in all, my feelings on this photography workshop are very mixed. I got some great pictures, worked with some amazing models, and learned ALOT. I really dislike being out the extra money, and that my brand was so diluted at the time that I did not capitalize to my full potential on this unique photography workshop.

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About The Author

Jessica Kay Murray

Professional WordPress nerd. Lover of all things older than me. I am fascinated by early 1900s labor and feminist history, and have a sporadic addiction to reading nonfiction about those things on Archive.org. I scan old photographs and ephemera when I get really super bored. On Etsy I sell vintage clothing that I got as part of an interesting trade deal a few years ago.

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