Category Archives: workshop info

Big announcements all over!

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Yesterday I was honored to be on CreativeLIVE, the biggest educational program in the photography industry. It was wild being on camera live in front of thousands of people, and I applaud them for how they handled the insane logistics of Photo Week, their most ambitious program ever. My talk was on overcoming common problems on wedding days, with a focus on using compositing to overcome bad light, as well as a quick creative tool. We made the photo above, which only has one light source for both the warm and cool light, in 30 seconds of shooting and 15 seconds of Photoshop. Since I had three full hours, I also made sure we didn’t miss the forest for the trees — while it is easier to teach portrait techniques in this sort of format, the bulk of our time as wedding photographers, and the most uniquely important part, is documenting people and families on an incredibly complicated, emotional day. I spoke to ways to keep the fire inside you that will make EVERY photo better, as well as some important tips for increasing documentary skill. You can buy the program here for $49 — almost 40% off the regular price — here. Buying this session is the strongest possible vote you can give to tell CreativeLIVE to bring me in for a full three-day session (viewable for free!). Part 2 is here, I had the only double-length session so I’ll see if there’s any way to bundle them.

But there’s more…

For years people have been telling me that they’d love to try “The Brenizer Method,” but they just can’t figure it out. It can be really tricky until the light bulb goes off for the first time, and there are a lot of little tricks that can help. So I’ve been working tirelessly to produce an incredibly thorough video that takes you through this from start to finish, conceptualizing to shooting, to post-processing. And I want people all over the world to be able to afford to learn this, so I’m releasing it for just $10 with a pre-order of $8. Find out more at chill.com/ryanbrenizer/brenizer-method.


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Ryan Brenizer Workshops: Early 2013 recap

I realized sometime last year that I no longer really have an “off season.” I do, however, have a somewhat sane season, and that is soon coming to an end. Even then, though, it’s hard to stay idle for one simple reason: I really like my job. I get twitchy if I’m not telling stories, creating images, and trying new things, and the winter and early spring are perfect time to take some of that energy and share it with others through workshops.

In February I had my first international workshop in London — I figured it would be a bit tricky to host a workshop abroad, so I figured a hop across the pond would be the easier than starting in translator territory. And we had a great time even though there London was in a freezing spell and the studio manager, apparently unaware of basic principles of convection, put the heater on the ceiling. But we kept our coats on and had wonderful experiences, from working with the fantastic Claudia Nallely to competitive foosball matches after each workshop.

I also learned I have so much in my head from shooting 325+ weddings that eight hours is a staggeringly short amount of time. The perfect length for a workshop, I think, is either 20 minutes or six months. So I’ve strengthened a lot of the free continuing support I provide to participants with separate portfolio reviews, continued online help, direct access to raw files for some of the trickier techniques I use, etc. This continued networking also allowed me to use feedback from members of every workshop I’ve ever given to create an even better, more formalized structure, one that I believe in more than ever, dividing the overlapping worlds of being a better photographer and being a better professional into two days. I debuted this at a workshop this past weekend at the studios of InFocusNYC Photography, and it went better than I could have hoped for. The studio was the perfect space for the group (and properly heated!), studio managers Pete and Daria were incredibly helpful, and I had an all-star cast helping out, from my studio manager Wendy lending her perspectives on the business day, to amazing past couples of mine I was thrilled to see again: Elizabeth and Anthony, Ariana and Eric, and Chika and Andrew.

Much like I learn to be a better photographer from every wedding (which is why I shoot so many!) I learn to impart the hard-won lessons I’ve learned the more I teach, and I enter 2013 more excited and confident than ever about future workshops. Now, of course, I just have to figure out when and where these new ones can fit given the beginning of crazy season.

I also highly recommend the InFocusNYC studio for other events, and for those looking for studio shares. I believe they still have a spot or two open.


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NYC workshops April 13-14

What better way to get attention than photos of the gorgeous Kelsie in the Nevada desert? I’m hosting my first NYC workshops in a year on April 13 and 14, heavily tweaked to get the absolute most out of our time for new ideas and evolution as a photographer and a businessperson. See more information here!

A lot of the tweaking for this came during my preparation for my recent WPPI speech. I took only a brief break to photograph Kelsie out in the desert, including some fun with Polaroids on the Mamiya RZ 6×7.


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Dallas and D.C. Workshops review

I love teaching. I came back to NYC with dreams of being a teacher, filling minds with all the power that good photography and journalism can possess, the way I’d done as a student newspaper advisor in Northern New York. But I realized that one of the few things I love more than teaching was constantly getting out there and creating art, honing skills, testing and challenging myself. I still haven’t left that phase, and my blessedly full shooting calendar keeps me from teaching more than a few workshops each year. In fact, my upcoming May 19 workshop might be the last U.S. workshop I can fit in my schedule for the rest of 2012. But when I was approached by my friends and fellow photographers Lynn Michelle and Bill Millios to teach workshops in Dallas and D.C. respectively, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

My pedagogical background always comes out when planning a workshop. Lots of people will pay lots of money for workshops from well-known photographers, but I’m deeply results-oriented, and I’m always trying to thread the needle on workshops’ Catch-22: Anything that will really change your life as an artist and a businessperson forever isn’t something you can reliably be expected to learn in a single day of group instruction. Real, lasting success comes from staying energized and focused so that you can undertake a lifetime of hard work without it feeling like hard work, or to have the endurance to continue on when it does feel like hard work. What I hope to do in a day is find those things that will light a spark, tools and techniques that might open new pathways, help you see solutions to problems in new ways, and give you perspectives on what works for me in a way that will easily let you see how to adapt it to your needs.

It’s never about being more like me. It’s about you.

One big piece of the technical aspects of these workshops is learning to overcome bad situations. Of course, when you’re shooting in a gorgeous space like the Marty Leonard Chapel we have to be creative to even find bad situations, such as pulling intimate moments like these…

… out of the Men’s bathroom:

(and yes, I have run into situations where the Men’s room was the least-bad location to shoot in on a wedding day.)

Thank you guys all so much for coming, and especially to Lynn and Bill for their hard work and general awesomeness. Now onto May in NYC! We are just about sold out, but there’s always some variation around the edges, so at this stage e-mail photos@ryanbrenizer.com to check if spots are available instead of just paying the deposit first.


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Natalya sneak peek (and Workshops in Dallas and D.C.!)

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I’ve had a very fashionable week, with two, going on three fashionable portrait shoots as part of a new partnership I’m doing with CBS, as well as testing some rather fantastic gear on loan from B&H. This is a shot of Natalya, who is an excellent photographer herself as well as an amazing model. This one is a three-image pano with the Noct-Nikkor. Is that moonlight? Is that streetlight? No — it’s an Alien Bee and the handy fact that my studio wraps around a corner, so even on the 23rd floor I can fire from one window and into the other. See it in this surprisingly sexy set-up shot.

Intersted in learning tricks like that to solve photographic challenges? Luckily I’ve announced a series of workshops in Dallas and D.C. The Dallas one sold out almost immediately, so we’ve just added a second day! My workshops have been overhauled for 2012 — more fun, more shooting, more inspiration, more differentiation, just more. Read more here.

Hair: Chi Shay

Make-up:Andrew Sutphen


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Scenes from a Workshop

In late October, a gaggle of photographers descended upon midtown Manhattan to make mischief and bounce around all sorts of photographic techniques. It’s always a bit of a trick to recap a workshop without re-teaching it, and when so many of the images were created primarily to teach some sort of lesson, but here are some slices of two fantastic days. I taught everything from lots of talky-talk about the business of photography to advanced techniques like the Brenizer method, flash composites, freelensing, intricate light-shaping, dealing with lack of time, different environments — even how to do an entire portrait session while the clients have to stand in one spot! (I had to deal with that one on a rainy wedding day this year).

Thanks so much to all the fantastic photographers who came, to Valerie, who came from Oklahoma and also supplied the dapper male model Brandon, but beyond all else thank you to Wendy, who made the studio look fabulous, who supplied models and who even posed before the camera herself in all of her jumping glory — and mostly for putting up with so many of us crazy photographers for a weekend.

Along the way we broke onto my roof and found out “Hey, this is pretty cool!” So we’ve all learned valuable lessons.

Want to hear more? I’m speaking at B&H on Thursday. It’s apparently sold out (which is nuts because this is the first time I’ve even mentioned it on the blog!), but there is a wait list. More workshops to come in the late winter.


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Workshop Preview: Head in the Clouds

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I had a fantastic time at the two-day workshop I hosted this weekend — I was really honored to have it sold out even though I announced it with less than a month’s notice. Even with that, people still came from all over North America. We spent a lot of time working on themes of using new techniques and expanding old ones to push yourself and keep your work fresh and exciting, so that it doesn’t feel like work at all. We started Day 2’s Shootshop with Brandon, and I wanted to show off that one of the purposes of a flash composite wasn’t just power, but the way that you can use it to shape light with a dramatic falloff. Somehow I managed to focus my Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 while staring directly into the sun.

Lens: Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 AIS
Camera: Nikon D3s


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Back-to-Back NYC Workshops: October 22-23

October 2011 workshop

This year, I’ve smacked straight into the central contradiction of professional photography workshops: If your business is doing really well, you probably don’t have time to do lots of workshops about how other people’s businesses can do really well. I felt like it would be just wrong to not do a single NYC workshop the entire year, but there was the tiny problem that I’m booked every weekend until the Christmas season — except for that one weekend I was holding for a clear-my-head vacation.

And then I realized: The week before I’m shooting a wedding in the Berkshires and taking a few days to romp in the fall foliage. The week after I’ll be in Aruba, and then New Orleans. With a job like this, work is all the vacation I need.

But my time away from hosting workshops has given me time to think about how I can improve on them. I know that my past workshops must have been pretty good because of the people who keep coming back to multiple sessions, but I’m never satisfied. I know that there are so many different people out there who are looking for springboards to further their photography, and you all are at different levels in different areas and you all learn in different ways. Whether you’re to broaden your bag of technical skills, find the bridge from being a good photographer to a successful photographer, or just have a great time and network with other professionals while making killer photos, the educator in me wants you to walk away with more than you had when you came in.

How? More focus. More differentiation. More. Two back-to-back workshops, on Saturday and Sunday October 22 and 23rd in NYC, designed to work seamlessly for people who take either or both.

Workshop Day 1: Structured around lessons that will be useful for photographers of any level:

  • Turning bad situations into good photos — dealing with bad light, bad locations, altered timelines, awkward subjects, etc.

  • Keeping your passion — what to do when your hobby turns into work, or when you feel you’re stuck in a rut
  • Pressing your business forward — why am I booked every weekend when there are so many other good photographers out there? I have absolutely no secrets about creating great experiences for clients, getting your work seen by the right people, and everything that happens from turning that initial e-mail into an ecstatic client.

There will be plenty of shooting with individual subjects and couples, generally around structured demonstrations that show you new ways to solve common problems and break down roadblocks. Day 1 is more similar to previous full-day workshops

Workshop Day 2: The primary goal of Day 2 is for every attendee to create insanely awesome images. We’ll have models, make-up artists, lots and lots of on-location shooting, all sorts of crazy equipment — big and small strobes, LED and incandescent continuous lighting, pretty much everything that Nikon has ever made — and just enough guidance to make sure that people aren’t just seeing great images being taken, but actually creating them themselves. Then we will have a shoot review and demonstration of everything that happens after a shoot, from culling to post-processing to telling stories through image display. Day 2 attendance will be capped to a small group.

Or, in short:

Day 1: Structured discussions of the hard-won lessons that can help you stay energized, creative, and successful, even when things in front of you look terrible in every possible way.

Day 2: Learning by doing, a mix of watching how I would take a scene to the next level and the freedom to do it yourselves, both in-camera and in post-processing.

Either day is valuable by itself, but they are designed to be taken together without feeling repetitive.

I know this this short notice for most people. At my last workshop, 85 percent of the attendees flew in from all parts of the globe, and late October is wedding season pretty much everywhere. Because of that, this workshop will have a bit of a discount:

Pricing: Either day costs $350 to attend. Both days cost $600 to attend, and people who attend both days will also get a free digital portfolio review focusing on artistic merit, business perspective, or both.

E-mail photos@ryanbrenizer.com to register and begin the subject with either “WORKSHOP DAY 1,” “WORKSHOP DAY 2″, or “WORKSHOP BOTH DAYS” depending on your interest.


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LA Workshop Recap

I’ve been sharing some previews of the shenanigans we got up to at my recent workshop at the Dream Factory in Los Angeles, but it takes a few days for it to really sink in, especially when you’re digging yourself out of two feet of snow in the nearby mountains. California, you so crazy.

The theme of my workshop — “WWMcGD?” — really comes back to the central theme of my life, which is managing thinly veiled chaos. If you simply want to get the best images possible in a portfolio, it’s usually good to carefully plan, be insanely meticulous, or just keep pushing the envelope that you fail spectacularly again and again until you succeed. But shooting for clients, especially as a wedding photographer, robs us of most of those tools. We find ourselves shooting portraits outside at noon on the summer solstice (Yes, I’ve been there); we sometimes are forced into terrible shooting locations, including a surprising amount of photos taken in parking lots, and you simply can’t afford to suck.

I just want to thank everyone for coming, again, despite short notice and a limited announcement (only on this blog). There’s something beyond my comprehension about someone coming from Norway just to see me prattle on … and finding out that he’s a relative local next to the guy that flew in from Australia.

I said I wanted this to be the best workshop ever, and I think it was. I loved the intimate feel of the smaller attendance cap, and will be doing that on all future full-day-plus workshops. I feel like I got to know everyone there, and could make sure everyone had hands-on time. I tell attendees that I’m happiest when people can take the things I’m showing and come up with things that surprise me, and in the free-shooting they did just that, knocking out some spectacular images. Thank you guys!

It’s picture time. A lot more went on than I have pictured here.

On Friday night, we studied night-time and darkness-related portrait techniques with Cameron:

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On Saturday, I showed some of the applications and techniques of mixing continuous light and flash, as well as color temperatures of the lights. I was happy to be joined again by frequent model and friend Stephanie:

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We went over some handy “work a hotel room” tips, such as some ways to modify window light to increase control, contrast, and make it generally more interesting:

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Then we headed over to the most boring place I could possibly find in an otherwise fascinating location — a plain white corner too dirty and cluttered to do simple high key. What to do? Without Photoshop, I can’t make the spot look nice, but with the right subject and lighting, I can hopefully make you not care:

Before and after, then a flash composite.

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I took everyone through how I would conduct an entire portrait session if I only had five minutes, trying to get as much variety as possible. I capped it with a “Brenizer method” bokeh pano, using the clutter on purpose to keep a sense of scale:

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During some free shooting, I took Karen and Kamil to our mock hotel room, and the attendees set up some great scenarios building on what I’d done there with Stephanie.

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The real fun happened when we went on the roof. A free tip: If you’re going to do something that might get you in trouble during a shoot, do it last.

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Thanks so much again, to everyone who helped out and to the attendees. Without you, I’d have to post a bunch of pictures of an empty room.

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(Only one light source used for this picture, even though it appears in the photo twice).


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Rock the Kitchen

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I have a big theory that drives my workshop instruction: When everything is working perfectly, when all the stars are aligned your way, that’s probably not when you wish “boy, I wish I had another person’s perspective on how to deal with this.” So we focus on how to work through bad situations, knowing of course that it’s also applicable to those (rare) times when things just work. This time, our spot was so fantastic that I had to look hard to find boring and bad locations … so we were probably the first shoot in this studio to head straight to the spare studio kitchen for a shoot. When all you have is a fridge and a blank wall, it comes down to posing and lighting.

Of course, a subject like Cameron doesn’t hurt.

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: Sigma 85mm f/1.4
Lighting: Litepanel MicroPro through a Lumiquest Softbox LTP


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A different sort of reunion

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For the second time, mixed in with the previous clients and models I’d shot with before, I had a high school classmate join us as a workshop subject — this time the fetching Cameron. I really can’t help it that so many people from my tiny burg in the tundra seemed to scatter out and spread fabulousness. It was great to see her after … well … just a few years, and as you can see she did a great job bringing the old Hollywood vibe to our night-time shooting.

Lens: 35mm f/1.4
Camera: Nikon D3s
Lighting: Composite with the Litepanel MicroPro pulling double-duty.


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We Could Be Heroes (LA Workshop is done!)

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My traveling roadshow workshop at the Dream Factory in Los Angeles is done, and I couldn’t be happier. I am amazed and honored that, even though I gave little notice and only mentioned the workshop on this blog, with no outside advertising, we had attendees come from all over the world — Norway, Panama, Canada, all sides of the U.S., and even a guy who flew back and forth from Australia just for the weekend. That’s just crazy, and crazy-awesome.

Also, it was a pleasure to reconnect with some of my favorite subjects, including Karen and Kamil, pictured above in a demonstration of high-speed flash sync’s power to obliterate the sun. (And with constant LA haze, it’s pretty easy to make the skyline look post-apocalyptic). I shot their wedding in Malibu just over a year ago, and it was a blast to spend time with them again, as well as the others who will be featured here soon.

Thanks so much to everyone who came and to those who helped out, including my own brother Doug.

Also, if you’ve attended a previous workshop, I’ve made a private Facebook group to network and share extra content, such as the pieces that make up “Brenizer method” or flash composite images, behind-the-scenes stuff, etc. Contact me if you’re a previous attendee and if not … there are more to come!

Lens: 35mm f/1.4
Camera: Nikon D3s
Lighting: Three SB-900s through a Lumiquest Softbox LTP


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Why this weekend in LA will be my best workshop ever.

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just some of the awesome people who are lined up to be subjects

I’m leaving for Los Angeles tomorrow to begin on-the-ground preparations for this weekend’s workshop (which still has some spaces available!) and I’m getting more excited by the minute. Every time I go into a wedding, I say “I want this to be the best one I’ve ever photographed,” and I’m saying the same thing about this workshop. I want it to be the best one I’ve done yet, and I think it will be.

Why? Well, first, the people I have lined up to photograph are guaranteed awesome. I love that I can have a workshop halfway across the country, and still have wonderful clients who live nearby. And once again, even across the country, the models will be people I’ve worked with and know well. No random Model Mayhem-ers with their sky-high flake-out rates.

Also, the place we’re at — the Brewery Art Colony — is absolutely phenomenal. I’m excited just to shoot there, workshop or not.

Most importantly, though, I learn more about how I can get across the things I do, and what other photographers want to learn from me, every time I do one of these. And I keep learning about the power of intimacy. I’ve made the cap on this workshop small enough that it should be the smallest workshop yet, even though we’ll have the biggest space to shoot in. I have some people flying literally around the world to come to this; and I want to be sure that the workshop is small enough so that each person who comes can feel that I really got to know them, could take the time to address their specific needs, and also get some time to shoot in this incredible space. You can learn a lot from paying a few dollars and going to a photography lecture, but I want this to be a lot more.

There are a few spots left for the last-minute indecisive folks. Friday night is starting at 7 p.m. with mingling and getting to know each other, not crucial learning — so there’s no need for people in the LA area to have to miss work on Friday. E-mail ryanbrenizerworkshops@gmail.com to reserve a spot!


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Quick (but important) workshop update: Headed to the Brewery!

I’ve been keeping the locations of my March 18 and 19 workshop under my hat as I triple-checked details from 3,000 miles away. Now I’m happy to announce that our base of operations will be a 3,000-foot studio at the Brewery Art Colony in Downtown Los Angeles! This should be a great spot to play around in a wide variety of situations, indoors and out. More information here. Registration is still open, just e-mail ryanbrenizerworkshops@gmail.com

Please contact me if you need help with housing options (I know we have a lot of out-of-towners coming).


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