Jerry Ghionis “How to Wow” Workshop Review

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to attend and review Jerry Ghionis’ “How to Wow” tour. I’ve interviewed, filmed or otherwise seen Jerry present over the years on a number of occasions, and I’m never disappointed. He’s funny, inspiring and a walking encyclopedia of photography knowledge from over two decades of professional work.

Jerry doing a live lighting & posing demonstration.
Jerry doing a live lighting & posing demonstration.

Here are my top 7 take aways from the workshop.

  1. Be intentional about your lighting and posing to flatter the subject and/or communicate a message. Take your time. Don’t rush. Better to be slow and intentional and take all great photos, than rushing through weddings to get as many photos as possible.
  2. Be empathetic and connect with your client.
  3. Educate your clients before hand on the kind work you do and how you work on the wedding day. Once you tell a woman why you’re doing something (i.e. to make her more beautiful), she’ll do it all day.
  4. Do not allow your clients to pick the photos for the album. You’re the artist. You’re the one telling the story.
  5. You get the clients you deserve based on how you present yourself on your website and in your client interaction. Usually, we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to bad clients.
  6. Get over your fear or hesitancy to control the setting. Don’t just wait for the magic or moment to happen. Be willing to create it. (More on this below)
  7. Repetition, experience and practice. That’s the best way to improve.

#6 was particularly intriguing for me because there’s a lot of photographers promoting photo journalistic (PJ) shooting. So it’s a provocative topic in the event photography (and videography) world to make a strong case to the creating the moment or the magic. Jerry made it clear he absolutely looks for those magical PJ moments. I loved his comment, “When a “Renoir” painting uncovers itself in front of your eyes, say nothing and capture it.” He then proceeded to show some of his favorite truly authentic “captured” moments. There is no right or wrong. But he went on to say that however you decide to shoot, you will be remembered for the photographs you take. His comments to his brides are, “Whether the wedding was a fairy tale or not, hiring Jerry Ghionis will make it look like one.”

As a filmmaker, I particularly loved the section of the workshop when he covered lighting techniques and tips. I will definitely keep those tips in mind when posing sit down interviews or b-roll.

The workshop is split into a day section and an evening section. You can attend one or both. The last part of the evening section Jerry shares something he says will absolutely change your life and your career. I’ve seen him in action long enough to believe him.

As of this writing, there are nine more cities left in the tour. But there will be a video download you can purchase if you’ve missed it. I can tell you it’s well worth the investment. Click here to learn more.

Keep it In Perspective

One of the things I love about Jerry is his authenticity and his perspective about business, life and family. A couple of years ago I had the pleasure to film Jerry during his time at WPPI for a whole week.  In addition to a 1.5 hour recap of that week with Jerry, I created this poignant short film from Jerry’s presentation at a charity dinner. I think you will find his words will have a profound impact on your work and life.

Notes from the Seminar

Here are a few of the notes I took during the first part of the day.

  • He disarms people with his empathy and humor.
  • The biggest killer of our creativity is that we go too fast.
  • If you take away emotion, all you end up photographing is a pose. Add emotion to your poses.
  • He talked about some of the corny things he did when he first started (i.e. star filters) and thinks to himself, “What the hell was I thinking?” Now he wonders if people will look back at the trends and post processing of today and wonder “What the hell were we thinking?” Beautifully crafted photography will never go out of style.
    • In his 21 year career, he has never edited a photo in Photoshop. I have no reason to believe he would lie about something like that, but if that’s the case, my respect for him as a photographer has jumped up another notch or two.
  • Posing is a form of communication.
  • What do you look at when you see yourself
    • Guys – gut, double chin, hair. Guys want to look and feel cool.
    • Gal – everything. Women want to look and feel beautiful.
  • How Jerry communicates to a bride that he will pose her. “As beautiful as you are, I can make you shine brighter than what you already are with a little direction.”
  • You can break any rules, as long as it flatters the subject or communicates the message you want to communicate to the viewer. Break any rules, but not out of ignorance or laziness.
  • There are no short-cuts to excellence and longevity.
  • Your lighting needs to say something.
  • My version of beauty now is “How I make you feel.” Have the empathy of saint and the skill of a craftsman.
  • Emotion trumps perfection. Even better is emotion AND perfection.
  • Went through traditional lighting set ups and when’s the best time to use them.
  • Think of a pose as a phone number. Each part of the pose is a “digit” in the phone number. To get a new pose, change a digit.
  • Think like a second shooter. Walk around and look for a different perspective.
  • When posing, always remember: point the toe, bend the knee, shift the weight back. Point the toe, bend the knee, shift the weight back. And in case you missed it: point the toe, bend the knee, shift the weight back. Bend the leg closest to the camera.