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Quavondo + Solstice Workshop - How It All Went

This weekend has been incredible, to say the least. As many of you know, Quavondo and I had our first joint workshop this weekend in Portland. If you’re just reading out about it, here was the program: (link).

A highly extensive two day workshop featuring an intensive array of lighting scenarios and then transitioning to in depth post production.

I have been doing retouching seminars and one on one teaching for over a year now (http://solsticeretouch.tumblr.com/teaching) . It has been fantastic and so was the reception as you can see from the testimonials in the link. So naturally, I decided to go bigger, I wanted to make something epic, something no one is doing. I took a mental inventory of all the things every major seminar across the nation is doing and looked at what they weren’t. I would ask their attendees about the pros and cons and asked them what they really wanted and decided to make a program with what the public really wants and cannot get as the emphasis of the workshop. I decided to go in partnership with a photographer to do an entire all-encompassing workshop, from beginning to end, without holding anything back. 

Without any hesitation, good friend and established photographer, Quavondo came to mind right away. If you don’t know who he is by now, check out his work at http://www.quavondo.com/ . His resume and list of credentials is spectacular, with work ranging from celebrities to huge ad campaigns. What makes Quavondo special is not just his ability to be multifaceted in producing both conceptual and commercial work independently, but also his unique talent to teach.

When I saw this video, I knew right away that he not just a talented person, but also had the ability to demonstrate, teach, and really be clear about what he is doing. He also is not shy and can clearly communicate what he wants to showcase while keeping it fun and fascinating. He is a leader. Working with him, I also knew how great he was at making things happen in the face of adversity and his ability to market himself as well. That is something 90% of people do not have, the entire package.

With that, I knew right away that I had to present the idea to him about the 2 day workshop. He agreed and immediately we began planning over the next 2 months. Finally the weekend arrived and I went there this past Friday (August 19th) to meet him and prep for the two days ahead. We got along great and I knew it was going to turn out fantastic. We booked solid as word got around that we joined forces for a seminar.

I found out Quavondo had put a solid team together, with some of the hardest working people I have ever met in the industry, from video, to marketing, to the makeup artist and models present. Everyone put in a tremendous time. The production value is amazing. The talented Darren Utt shot a wide array of footage from day one all the way to the moment I left, with such immaculate detail and artistic interpretation. He expressed the many elements of the promo video/behind the scenes video to me and I was blown away by the dedication in his directing. It far exceeds any behind the scenes video I have seen thus far and cannot wait to show everyone when it’s done. It is informative, entertaining, and has a clear and distinct story from start to end. 

The First Day

The first day commenced bright and early in the morning. All the attendees came in and we introduced ourselves and got to know each other. There were high expectations of us, but we decided to go deliver even more. We initially felt that providing 3 unique lighting setups along with demonstration and personal interaction would be sufficient as it could be used in any type of shoot. We went above and beyond and provided 7 fully customized lighting setups. I have never seen a workshop do this. We covered everything from a full fashion, beauty, and commercial shoot. We changed everything entirely. Quavondo has a fantastic ability to see light in his head and setup on the fly. Working with ad agencies and art directors that want things done fast allowed him to get setups that came to his head and moments and make it happen. After each setup, he explained what he did, what the intention was, and why it works. Once all questions were answered, we would give everyone a good 5 minutes to work with each model in that setup and adjust anything they wanted or ask questions. Being able to interact on a personal level was so rewarding. At the end of the day at 5 p.m., it felt more like a group of friends rather than a student and teacher relationship. If photographers could put together a party, this is what it would have felt like. Everything just worked, it felt organic and so casual yet educational. We knew this was going to be big.  


Day One Group

Wrap Up

After day one had finished, and everything was packed, we went home and refreshed. We knew we couldn’t just go to bed even though it was exhausting going through 7 full setups, both setup and breakdown. We stayed up to the late morning hours working on the next day and editing shots from that day, getting as much as we could do. It was the first time retouching Quavondo’s shots while I was there in the room with him. It was great being able to go through the same dynamic I would online, in person. I would finish retouching everything and I would send it to him to finish his flawless finishing touches which is what produces our final piece of work.

Day Two

It was my turn, day two started bright and early with most everyone arriving before 9 a.m. with anticipation. With everything setup, we started in the conference room. It felt so natural to be there, after the first day of getting to know everyone. I could not have a better set of people to show up. Everyone was so unique and incredibly talented. They felt so intrigued to learn, and so mentally invested about what was to transpire. We had people who just started using adjustment layers and layer masks to people who have been using Photoshop for years. The common bond was the fascination of learning and sharing. The program is designed with everyone in mind while still delivering brand new ground breaking information without being complex in delivery. This allows for everyone to walk away with completely new information that is both easy to understand and applicable right away.

I could see everyone’s faces, fixed on the projection. I would gaze now and then across the room after revealing a few more techniques, judging on how the day was going based on their expressions. You could see and feel the excitement in the room as things got interesting. As new techniques they’d never seen anywhere come up on the projection, I could see the excitement in their eyes illuminated only by the light coming from the projector. I can’t tell you more than that, and neither will anyone else, but what was delivered in that room won’t be seen anywhere else, and the feedback really shows it well (below). As the day progressed, it felt more like a group forum of discussion and dissection of information, we all contributed as a group and everyone felt more informed, including myself.  


Day Two Group

Wrap Up

As the day ended, it felt like I made a whole new set of friends and truly had one of the best experiences of the year. I thank everyone for making it possible and so glad it happened.

With the day finally over, it wasn’t over for us, we went home and retouched till 5 in the morning getting sample images done and writing about it from the day to show everyone who was interested.

The next day, we wrapped up with the final video segments and I headed back home. I know this is just the beginning, as we’re already getting tremendous request to take it on the road from coast to coast. Here’s the the start of a project that we know the world will be talking about.

To read more about the workshop and to see the samples from our workshop, feel free to visit Quavondo’s blog entries here:

Day One http://blog.quavondo.com/2011/08/22/recap-of-day-2-and-samples-from-the-photography-lighting-and-retouching-workshop/

Day Two http://blog.quavondo.com/2011/08/21/recap-of-day-1-lighting-workshop/ 

Feedback

Q, you put on the best workshops with the most amazing people! I was stunned when I saw that tool that Pratik was using. Like I said, it puts all of us on a level that will take the industry a year or two to catch up. It is a great marketing advantage to have this in my arsenal of tools. Like I said, this workshop would easily be worth $1500.00. The ROI is simply there for the taking.

- Hal Harrison

This weekends workshop was incredible.

From the instructors to the models to the methods -wow. My head is still buzzing. I’m really excited to continue to use the content that I learned from this workshop. Q and Pratik are amazing. The cost off class was nothing compared to the information they shared with us. Saving time- check. New and better methods of retouching- check. Killer course in lighting- check. Models, comrades, contacts.. It was all there.

A big thanks Q and Pratik and also to everybody I met in class, it was really cool. See ya on the flipside,

- Matte Hanna

Q and Pratik were just awesome. I used to think I was a decent retoucher but Pratik’s techniques set that straight! I’m really glad I was able to attend both days. The energy, inspiration, and amount of information was great. Well worth the price of admission 

- Pete Springer

I can’t say enough about the workshop. I’ve been editing for almost 5 years and shooting for 2 and I was never interested in going to a workshop until I came across your work. I was under the impression that I would know most of the stuff already but I can’t begin to explain how much I’ve actually picked up. Lighting setups were simple and very nice to see that you can get fantastic shots from one light or 6. I’ve spent a TON of money on equipment/programs/lights and the list goes on but this was by far the single best thing I’ve spent my money on. I hit a plateau with my work recently and this was just the thing to push me over that hill and on to something I’d never thought I’d be able to produce.

For those interested, it’s worth the cost of the class and then some. Right after the first day of shooting I went home and did my usual workflow and I was stoked. Then I took Pratik’s class and went home and re edited the same shot and wow. It’s night and day. I learned more in these two days than I’ve learned in countless hours of shooting/editing. Thanks again guys!

-Chris Goddard

Q and Pratik, thanks for the amazing workshop!

I learned so much, the lighting class was great and refreshing to see the way you do it Q. The lighting set ups were easier then I thought, and showed me that I have been over thinking it for too long. It help take away the magic, and showed me how Q does it. Well worth the time and cost!
Pratik, that retouching class was mind blowing! I learned a similar work flow after hundreds of hours of digging through forums. Which you told me was the old version and the new version is faster and a ton better, which it was. Those new secret techniques made my work flow way more enjoyable and a few hours faster! Now I can actually spend the time and do it the good way instead of cheaping out for quick plug-in fixes that are not anywhere close to what you taught.

Q, and Pratik thanks for the amazing work shop worth much, much more then it cost.

-Nathaniel Allen

I want to thank Q and Pratik for putting on such a good retouching workshop (I didn’t attend the photography workshop). It was so worthwhile. Pratik’s secret techniques will cut down my retouching time so much without sacrificing any quality. It’s hard to put a price on that. I thought his method of teaching was well thought out and enjoyable and he took so much time to patiently answer all questions. You guys rock!

- Sandi Gagne

I wasn’t going to go to the work shop this last weekend due to the fact that I didn’t really have the money for it. I had then put it out of my mind and went about my work. Days before the workshop started to got a message from Q asking me if I was going to sign up or not. I let him know I wasn’t really thinking about it nor had it off work. However, he warned me that I should come and it would be worth my time and money…he was right. I got myself there for both days and my brain is still mulling over what we learned and how I can apply it to my work! Though I am a little more broke…I know what I learned will improve my work and skill 100 times over…and its just money…nothing beats knowledge!

-Eric Wainwright