I recently participated in the first run of Telling Stories with Lifestyle Photography, taught by Colie James. When I first saw that this class was going to be offered (and by Colie no less), I immediately jumped at the chance to take it.
Split into five weeks, the workshop covered everything from technical considerations and editing to the differences between lifestyle and storytelling photography and business tips for this genre of photography. During the first week, Colie set the groundwork for our understanding of storytelling photography by contrasting it with lifestyle photography in a series of exercises and discussions. It was in this first week, trying to perfect a clean lifestyle image of my toddler, that I realized I am the happiest shooting when I stay in the moment.
In the second week, we got to the heart of the workshop. It was during this week that I received invaluable advice regarding storytelling photography. I might have discovered some of the lessons of this week on my own, but not without a lot more time and frustration. We were encouraged to shoot a Day in the Life and ask questions as we put the lessons we learned to practice.
In the third week we set out to shoot a storytelling session for a client and during the next week, we focused on culling and editing to tell the strongest story with our images. We wrapped up with a week on sharing our stories through blogs, Facebook, albums and slideshows. I found discussions on integrating this style into business especially helpful since my work was already heading in this direction.
When I first started photographing families other than my own, I struggled to get excited about what I was producing. Trying to pose families felt forced and awkward to me. This workshop was exactly what I needed to gain the confidence to shoot for others the way I shoot for myself. The exercises and critiques in this class really pushed me to shoot with purpose, to see a story unfolding the way my camera would see it. Colie gave incredibly meaningful and specific feedback that was worth the cost of the class alone. If you are on the fence about taking this workshop, take it. If you want to tell rich stories with your photography, take this class. I really wish it didn’t have to end.