- Fer Juaristi
- Jeff Cooke + Jenn Nauss
- Dominique + Liam Shaw
- Blair DeLaubenfels
- Liam Crawley
- Amy + Tony Hoffer
- Ross Harvey
- Kristi Odom
- Aga Tomaszek
- Maciej Suwalowski
- Ralf Czogallik
- Maarten Devoldere
Gathering 2018 – Upgraded to three days
Education beyond Inspiration
As the dust settled on Gathering 2016 we sat down and talked about how to make it even better. After lots of ideas and much discussion and disagreement (we don’t call ourselves the Overthinkers for nothing) a new THREE DAY Gathering was born for 2017! We wanted to add even more practical and business elements to it and really make it live up to the “Education beyond Inspiration” tagline!
Adam Johnson + Andy Gaines kicked things off with a new take on our “Create your own Awesome” mantra, inspired by their recent photo-tour of the USA and Elvis Presley’s famous “ma’am I don’t sound like nobody” quote. If Elvis could’t make it by trying to be like everybody else, then neither can you!
The first presenter to take to the 2018 Mainstage was long-time friend of NineDots, the almighty Fer Juarist. Fer gave a characterful appraisal of the wedding photography industry and what it takes to stay creative and stay true to yourself and your art. He talked about how it’s important to book the couples who fit you and your philosophies and how he remains flexible so that he loves what he does and is able to make the pictures he wants to make.
Maarten Devoldere is someone we fell in love with at the 2016 Gathering and after he won the print competition that year we quickly decided we wanted him to speak at the 2017 Gathering as we knew he’d have something unique to say. He spoke about the importance of shooting other things apart from weddings and spoke about his “Make Krottegem Great Again” project, where he shoots the life on his own doorstep in Belgium.
He also gave away some bottles of his home town beer too, which went down very well!
Next up was wedding industry legend Blair DeLaubenfels. She has coached some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as a founder of Junebug Weddings, Art Life and Business and Prints.ly. We wanted to go beyond photography at the 2017 Gathering and Blair pulled no punches as she told the Gathering audience what it takes to run a successful wedding photography business.
She spoke openly about pricing, about marketing, and about how being a successful wedding photographer is about so much more than just taking pretty photos, followed immediately by a mini-masterclass about getting your work featured. We have never seen such frenetic note-taking at the NineDots Gathering!
Next up on the 2018 Mainstage were Amy and Tony Hoffer. Their presentation was an open and honest discussion about how they’ve organically grown an insanely collective studio by making photography that really puts their clients first. They gave advice and tips for building a business where your clients do all your marketing for you and how if you want to achieve that, the most important thing you can realize is that the most important person in your business is not you!
They also outlined their rules and principles which dictate how they run their business and ensure a great work-life balance too. A truly inspirational from two incredibly humble people.
As the doors opened on day 3, we were a little nervous as this was our experiment. A brand new Gathering day of mainly practical sessions which begun with splitting the audience into two and alternating between a Fer Juaristi live shoot, and an editing masterclass with Aga Tomaszek. Fer built on everything he’d said the day before by showing how his crazy brain works and what he looks for. Aga talked in her trademark direct style about how bad editing can kill a great photo dead, and her quick wins for how she achieves such a recognisable look to her work.
Then we showed the powerful documentary “The Power of Print” by Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg in our Mini-masterclass zone to really push home the message that photos come alive when printed.
After a quick break, heads spinning, it was back to the Mainstage for the original head-spinner Ralf Czogallik to talk about his own brand of crazy photography, how he pumps his work full of personality and what he wants from his images. He also shared his very personal back-story and how it inspires him every day to be all he can be. He then did a live-shoot for the whole audience to show them how he uses flash to make the most of any environment.
We had always wanted to introduce live shooting into the Gathering and have loved hearing the feedback of how much people felt this added to the event this year – something we’ll definitely be keeping and hopefully doing more of at future NineDots Gatherings!
During lunch, the amazing “Cooked Photography” duo of Jeff Cooke and Jenn Nauss gave an incredibly constructive critique session of some of the entries for this years print competition.
After lunch, we split the groups again between Ross Harvey and Liam Crawley.
Ross is becoming part of the NineDots furniture as he was with us for the third year in a row, this year talking all about something very topical in the wedding photography industry – pricing. Ross has very strong, specific views on pricing and the psychology behind it and especially how he feels people often price themselves not only below what they’re worth but also below what they need to earn to stay in business!
Liam Crawley spoke openly and honestly on the Mainstage about bubble baths, where his unique images come from, how he stays creative and constantly comes up with new ideas to stay relevant in an industry overflowing with talent. He also talked about how personal loss helped him realise how important this job is to him, and how vital it is to make strong connections in an otherwise solitary profession.
The day two experimentation with new formats continued into the evening as we extended the day with a series of live panel Q+A’s with a few speakers at a time taking to a very informal ‘stage’ to answer questions from the audience ranging from accounting to workflow and at one point had Blair on her knees begging that people put their prices up!
We were delighted at how the Q+A sessions went down and will definitely be building on and improving on this idea at the 2018 Gathering! And we stuck around for a few more drinks and some Mario Kart and Karaoke, digesting the epic two days so far with a THIRD DAY on the way!
Day three kicked off with a quite incredible presentation from Nikon Ambassador, Wildlife Photographer and Wedding Photographer Kristi Odom with a hard-hitting presentation about how her obsession with the natural world fuels her wedding photography and how she stays consistently true to the photographer she is inside.
She talked about shooting emotion, and how that doesn’t just come from your clients and has to come from your own personal connection to the world around you. It was inspiring from start to finish and the whole audience loved it.
Kristi also gave a great mini-masterclass on how to fund your wanderlust through personal projects.
The final day of Gathering 2017 continued at pace with a hilarious and honest mini-masterclass from Maciej “Magic” Suwalowski about how he puts his whole personality into every element of his branding and marketing to ensure that he gets couples who really buy into him and how that builds strong connections and long-term friendships with his Star Wars loving couples!
Then on the mainstage we welcomed back best friends of NineDots Dom and Liam Shaw of York Place studios back – this time as presenters – to talk in depth about their passion for documentary photography and how they use their love of street photography to dictate their wedding photography style and approach.
After a mini-masterclass from Amy and Tony Hoffer which included some amazing techniques for pre-visualising your photos and a live demonstration it was left to the frankly indescribably wonderful Jenn Nauss and Jeff Cooke to close things out for us on the NineDots Mainstage. They talked about where their photos come from, how teamwork is vital, and how they literally give every ounce of their soul for their couples and how that philosophy fuels their successful Cooked Photography team. The perfect end to the best Gathering ever. But it wasn’t over yet!
There was still time to congratulate the 2017 print competition winner Arvid De Windt, before we all headed off to change before a glitter-fuelled after-party which totally lived up to the NineDots parties of previous years!