Update: After you have fun reading this, read the follow up commentary.***
Last night multi-award-winning Canadian wedding photographer and speaker Jesh de Rox unintentionally ignited quite a fire storm in the Twitterverse. Jesh gave a free webinar about his upcoming Beloved Collective: an educational forum to learn about his “experiential technique” to photography. At the end of the free webinar was the sales pitch for the paid-for series. Nothing too uncommon there. It’s a very popular method for selling educational resources: give a sample for free, then give attendees a pitch to invest in something more. Here’s where it gets interesting. One of the educational resources Jesh is selling is a $16,500 one day 1-on-1 session (discounted $3,500 from the “regular” $20,000 price). Let’s just say, the fit hit the shan after that.
It wasn’t long before the Twitter stream was clogged with the hash tag #onedaywithjeshinstead (e.g. I was going to send my kids to college, but I spent #onedaywithjeshinstead). Considering this all started around 11 pm EST, it might have eventually died out. Except that one of the photogs on Twitter last night was a one Mr. Zack Arias. For those of you who don’t know Zack (and come one, chances are if you read this blog you do), Zack is a rather passionate fellow. Oh, and he also happens to have over 25,000 Twitter followers (vs. Jesh’s 7,000+). Per Zack’s own tweet, he never ever calls anyone out on Twitter, until now. Zack (and many other photogs who follow both he and Jesh) was shocked that any photog would charge such a sum of money for a one-day personal session. Naturally, some came to Jesh’s defense. There was a virtual tit-for-tat. When I went to bed last night, I kept my Twitter page up with the hash tag still live. When I came back this morning, there were almost 400 new tweets of that hash tag.
What is “Value”?
In truth, Jesh can charge whatever the market will bear for his consultation. Who are we to begrudge him if he can get it. We each determine for ourselves what is valuable. That being said, personally, I don’t think this was the right audience to pitch a $16,500 1-day 1-on-1 consult (even if it was down from $20,000). The photogs tuning in were doing so to help their businesses. If they could afford a $16,500 1-day photography seminar, chances are they wouldn’t need a $16,500 1-day seminar (especially in a world where you can get three days for FREE with the likes of Bambi Cantrel, Zack Arias, Vincent Laforet, Jasmine Star, or Jeremy Cowart on CreativeLIVE; or $99 if you buy the download. Also in comparison, according to Universtity.com, a year at Brooks Institute during the 2009-2010 school year was about $26,000). So, in light of what’s available in the market, as well as recent events in the world and the state of the economy, it might have been poor planning to have such an offering.
I think another part of this whole debate has to do with the state of photography (and filmmaking) education. Many veteran photographers who’ve spent one, two, or even three decades perfecting their craft get a little off-put at the rise of workshops by those in it less than ten, maybe even five years. So you have all of these emotions coming into play when people see a $16,500 1-day workshop.
There Was More Than Just the One-on-One
The unfortunate thing is that there was so much hub-bub over the 1-on-1, the REAL thing Jesh was selling started to get overshadowed. The other resources he was offering (and frankly, the ones which were the intended target) were reasonably priced in the $245 to $500 range. (You can see them all at mybeloved.co. That is not a typo. It is .co, not .com).
I’ve seen Jesh speak and the man is amazingly inspirational. His talks at WPPI are always standing room only and they often leave people in tears. I’ve also interviewed him for my old photography podcast and to this day it remains one of my favorite. Based on what I know of him, I have no doubt he is sincere in his passion to teach others. He is not trying to scam anyone. Given the $497 rate of his 5-week Beloved webinar, which includes with it the 2-day hands-on “Beloved Collective” seminar, I think what he is offering is quite a good educational investment.
Because of the explosion of tweets last night, I saw a lot of people casting judgment on both Jesh (for charging such an amount, by the way, without even looking at the other Beloved offerings on his website), and on Zack for attacking him publicly. Both of these guys are class acts in my opinion. We all make mistakes online (lord knows I’ve made my fair share.) Do I need to pull out the Rodney King “can’t we all just get along” card?
These are two highly respected leaders in an industry. Let’s cut them both some slack.
What’s your take?