Christmas Day….. My husband always surprises me with some pretty cool things. I knew something great was coming because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut! I opened one of my gifts and inside was a yearly planner, something I asked for and very much needed. I was flipping through it and before I could say thank you, I saw it…. the big gift.. January 20-23rd was blocked out and said “JPP workshop in Amelia Island, Florida”. Can you say AMAZING Christmas gift?!
I had been to a JPP workshop before and learned so much. I love Julie and her teaching method… she is honest, she genuinely cares, she is an open book, she goes the extra mile with the special touches and gifts for the attendees… all things that make for a great teacher. So of course, when Julie announced her 2014 Wedding Retreat workshops, I desperately wanted to go. Thankfully, my husband saw my excitement and booked the first retreat of the year. Major brownie points for him! 😉
I had not seen Julie since September and I was quite nervous about the week and what it might bring, but when I walked through the door of the quaint little cottage on the beach that first night, it was like I never left her. Greeted with a big hug and a sweet southern “hello Ashley!!”, I felt instantly at home. We all sat around the beautifully decorated dinner table, ate the greatest homemade lasagna I ever had (thanks to Julie’s mama!), and we introduced ourselves and talked about where we were in our business and what our expectations were. What was supposed to be an early night turned into 10pm and still chatting! We all hit it off and I knew that night that it was going to be a fun week… I just didn’t realize how eye opening and life changing it was going to end up being for me…..
The first day was what I expected: class time, learning things to make my life so much easier, discussion about different methods and ways of doing things. In just the first day, I felt like I had so much information to go through and process, it was great! We had an engagement session that night with real, everyday people, not models. Shooting on the beach at sunset in Florida, the mossy trees, all of it…. it was awesome. Even with the unusually cold and strong winds, we had such a great time shooting and capturing some amazing images. It wasn’t until the next day though that everything really sank in and my eyes opened up to greater possibilities.
Some “behind the scenes”…….
So, day 2 starts… this day was different. I was expecting another classroom day, learning more about the business of weddings, some computer software, workflow, things like that… all of which I was excited for! We were supposed to be having a styled wedding session that afternoon, but Julie had something else in store for us… the styled wedding session turned into a real live wedding! We got to see Julie in action on a wedding day and what it was like to work with a wedding stylist who set up an amazing scene for photos. The details from the set up were incredible and something that I’ve only seen in blogs and magazines came to life. We shot the wedding on the beach at sunset and had a lot of fun doing it despite another chilly day. From the floral head wreath on the gorgeous bride to the beautiful tee pee (yes, you read that right!) and branch trelis, the wedding and all the details were breathtaking.
After the wedding was over, I really felt inspired. After hearing Julie talk earlier that day about the experience she gives each of her brides, then seeing the wedding and what went into it to make it special, to talking to the other workshop girls about their experiences in their own businesses… it all just hit me. I didn’t want to be the average wedding photographer in my area. I didn’t want to remain the same for years to come. I didn’t want to blend in.
I want to be exceptional.
I want brides to WANT me. I want to give them an experience that they can’t help but talk about to all of their friends and family. I want them to feel special, because they are! I want to stand out above the rest. I was so inspired that second day, it was all I had not to go running back to my room to tell my husband everything I was thinking about and the changes I want to make. It was overwhelming, but in such a great way. I don’t want to give too much away, (you need to go to a workshop!!) but everything from those few days brought me to this realization. Julie opened my mind and heart to something so much more…
Before the workshop started, Julie asked us to write down our goals and dreams and to put them in a sealed envelope. On the last day, she had one on one meetings with each of us and it was at that point that we were supposed to share out goals. I didn’t even want to open that envelope! In just 2 days, Julie’s workshop changed my goals and dreams… What this workshop did for me was not even comparable to what I limited myself to in that envelope.
I’ve made a new list and sealed it in a new envelope.
I will see what the coming year or so brings me. All I know is that I want to be exceptional. Julie’s workshop helped me see that.
So if you are reading this and you are a wedding photographer who is looking to take the next step and wondering if you should sign up for Julie’s workshop ….. please just stop questioning yourself and DO IT. You will be pampered. You will make amazing friends. You will learn a wealth of knowledge in our field. You will get to take some amazing pictures. You will be more than inspired!
To my husband- You are my #1 supporter. I am so very grateful for your unconditional love and support in all areas of my life, and especially in my photography. I could not do this without you!
To all my fellow workshop girls- I am so thankful that to have met you all! I really feel like I have made some great friends in just those 3 days. You girls are inspiring and I am so happy we all chose to attend the same workshop. I am excited to see what you all accomplish!
Last, but certainly not least, Julie- Thank you, thank you, thank you for opening your heart and being honest. You truly want the best for people and want to share what you have learned. That is hard to come by these days and I am so very grateful to have stumbled upon your facebook page 2 years ago. Thank you for these incredible workshops you offer. I am forever grateful. You are amazing!