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Cliff Mautner’s Lighting & Skillset Bootcamp for Photographers: Reviewed

This post, like pretty much all of the posts on my blog, is a little over-due. But it’s been on my to-do list as one of my “Top 5 Priorities” because I think it’s really necessary. Let me explain…

In October, I had the exceptionally awesome opportunity to travel from Connecticut to New Jersey/Philly, to attend Cliff Mautner’sLighting and Skillset Bootcamp.

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Fellow photographers should recognize the name pretty much instantly. For the rest of you, I’ll make it easy to understand just exactly who Cliff is (taken from his website bio):

“Over the years I’ve been honored by the photography industry receiving recognition from the most prestigious organizations in the world. In addition to being named one of the Top Ten Wedding Photographers in the world by American Photo Magazine, I was named International Photographer of the Year by Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). I’ve also received the International Photographic Council Leadership Award at the United Nations and I’m a Nikon Ambassador (National Spokesperson). I was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from WPPI in 2014.”

So, yeah. He’s a pretty big deal to lots of photographers, in lots of places. He’s best-known for his use of shadow and light, to create texture and convey emotion in his photographs. His is a style that can definitely be picked out of a crowd.

In addition to being an extremely gifted artist, Cliff also happens to be a FANTASTIC (and enthusiastic) teacher. It’s a rare combination to find – a talented artist who THRIVES on sharing what he’s learned over the years, essentially letting his students in on his “secrets to success”.

I’ve been following Cliff since about 2011. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon his work, but once I did, I never forgot it. Then I realized that he was actively involved in teaching, sharing his game-changing photography tips and methods via online videos. I watched everything of his that I could get my hands on. I made pages and pages of notes that I still refer to, to this day. I practiced his techniques and saw an immediate improvement in my own work.

Fast-forward to 2015. I knew that Cliff offered in-person workshops…and I always had it in the back of mind that I’d hopefully be able to attend one of those workshops at some point in my career. One day I came across an online post by an individual who had been lucky enough to attend. He raved and raved and raved. Soon, others began replying to the post, sharing their equally remarkable experiences. Phrases like “life changing” and “best decision EVER” were being thrown around. I decided on the spot that I couldn’t wait any longer. I knew I had to call. As was the case with most of the attendees, I was blown away when Cliff actually answered the phone himself. I thought to myself, “Surely, this is just some kind of ‘I’m a relatable guy’ act. Somebody at his level of success wouldn’t be answering the office phone.” Boy, was I wrong…but more on that later. So wouldn’t you know it – there just happened to be a few spots left in the October workshop. I signed up immediately.

Right from the start, it was clear to me that this wasn’t some hastily thrown together, hey-let’s-meet-up-and-see-what-happens kind of event. Cliff and his (fantastic) office manager, Heather, had a plan – a clear, detailed, precision-executed plan. I was given a concise agenda of workshop events, a list of the gear I should bring, what I should expect to get out of the workshop, even suggestions (and discounts!) for lodging. Of course, this wasn’t my first photography workshop. I’d heard a lot of this stuff before. And, as sad as it is to say, I’ve too often found that the things about those other workshops that sounded too good to be true were, in fact, just that. So, poor Cliff didn’t know it, but I began that first day of the workshop with a good degree of skepticism.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

I won’t go over every detail of the 2 ½ days we all spent together. It will suffice to simply list the very important highlights, the things that any photographer looks for when making the decision on how best to spend their hard-earned money in order to further their learning:

  • We stuck to the outlined schedule nearly 90% of the time. If we strayed, it was only because Cliff was so caught up in sharing yet another nugget of wisdom from his years of experience that he simply couldn’t stop until the story was done.
  • Cliff really is a 100% “relatable guy”…it’s no act. He treated every attendee like we were all his equals, truly as friends. He didn’t sugar-coat anything, pretending that the life of a photographer at his level is all rainbows and unicorns. He told us about mistakes he’s made, stupid things he’s done, regrets he has. He was honest and open about those things because he sincerely wanted only the best for all of us. I felt that and I believe that. (Well, with one small exception – in the event that I’m ever in danger of missing a wedding because I’m on the verge of death, Cliff said if I called him and asked him to cover for me, that he’d gladly do it. I tried to get him to admit that he was exaggerating, but he wouldn’t budge. Man, if that ever happens, that will be one LUCKY bride and groom!)
  • Cliff delivered on every promise he made – from the timing and content of our meals each day, to the number of models that we’d have on-hand to practice with (it was a CRAZY number of models – you NEVER see that at workshops. And it really makes a huge difference in how much you’re able to absorb).
  • Every single detail of the 2 ½ days was thoughtfully planned and executed. We traveled via chartered shuttles for our location shoots, so no worrying about who was driving where and possibly getting lost. Breakfast was waiting for us every day. Lunch was organized and ordered early, and delivered right on time. Cliff had an outline of what he planned to teach us and he stuck to it.
  • And most importantly…Cliff was absolutely an open-book. No question was off-limits, every single one answered fully. He was present and engaged, going from student to student, offering guidance and encouragement while we were shooting on location. His feedback was constructive and helpful – not fluffy and cookie-cutter.

I’ll speak for every student at that workshop and say that every single one of us came away from the experience with powerful additions to our ever-evolving, ever-growing arsenal of technical and creative photography tools.

If you’re reading this post because you’re considering signing up for the Cliff Mautner Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp, I encourage you to do it. NOW. Unless you’re not interested in taking your photography knowledge, skills and creativity up several notches.

If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing that’s unlikely :)

I’ll leave you with a few of my photos from the workshop. We didn’t have the light that Cliff wanted, but I think we still did ok.

 

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Stunning model Sarah from the Cliff Mautner Lighting & Skillset Bootcamp. She was a natural.

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Shooting at Philadelphia City Hall, using the exceptional, directional light.

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer

More gorgeous use of shadow and light, to create a timeless portrait.

Dramatic, natural light photograph of wedding model by Connecticut Wedding photographer

Dramatic, natural light photograph of wedding model

Connecticut Wedding Photographer silhouette

Silhouette with Philadelphia in the background.

Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer Cliff Mautner photography workshop model, by Connecticut Wedding photographer Cliff_Mautner_0010 Cliff_Mautner_0011 Cliff_Mautner_0012

Oh, and one more shout-out before I go…
This is Chloe. She belongs to Cliff and his wife, Susan Stripling (you might want to look her up, too). Chloe was my good friend and I miss her.

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And you can always see more of my work by clicking here or following the links above :)

Posted in Personal, Photography, Portraits, Weddings Also tagged , , , , , |

Connecticut River Museum Wedding | Kate & David

June 13th was an absolutely perfect day for a Connecticut River Museum wedding, in Essex, Connecticut. The sun filled the sky and the breeze off of the Connecticut River added just enough coolness to keep things comfortable. Kate was simply stunning in her a-line wedding dress and classic up-do. Her groom, looking rather dashing himself, wore an ear-to-ear grin for most of the day. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We started the day at Kate’s parents’ house, where she and her family got ready. Instead of the chaos that often fills the air during the hustle-and-bustle of all the wedding preparations, Kate’s family home was peaceful and serene. As soon as everyone was finished dressing, we headed outside to get some family portraits, along with some solo shots of Kate (did I mention that she looked stunning?). We found the perfect spot, in some open shade in the front yard.

Next, it was on to the river for the ceremony and reception. The Connecticut River made for a beautiful backdrop – sparkling water that reflected the blueness of the sky, all manner of boats passing slowly by. The venue staff had every little detail planned and executed to perfection. Family and friends alike gathered to witness the joyous event. Many faces were familiar to us, as we’d also had the honor of covering Kate’s cousin’s wedding in the fall of 2013.

After a touching and heart-felt ceremony, it was time for the festivities to really get under way. The whole party moved under a huge white tent, where dinner was served (delightful, by the way) and dancing inevitably broke out. It was difficult to resist the dance floor, once The Rubber Band starting rocking through their set. Before the partying got into full swing, I kidnapped the happy couple and brought them down to the dock, for some beautiful silhouette portraits against the fading light of sunset.

Kate and David, we can’t thank you enough for including us in your special day. We are especially grateful and flattered that you made a point of remembering us after that first encounter in 2013. We wish you all the best in your new lives together…may your days be filled with love, laughter and happiness.

Connecticut River Museum Wedding

More photos of Kate & David

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Crissey Farm Wedding | Massachusetts Wedding Photographer

Overall, this summer has been a pretty fantastic one for weddings, in terms of weather. That was certainly the case on the day that Rebecca and Alex got married, at Crissey Farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The day was bright and breezy, direct sun only peeking through every now and then – exactly what any wedding photographer would hope for.

Nestled in the Berkshires, Crissey Farm is a down-to-earth, warm and inviting venue – perfect for Rebecca and Alex. They opted to keep things pretty laid back and, while some traditions were followed, their own personal touches were also just as much a part of the day. Friends and family gathered together for the beautiful outdoor ceremony, both as guests and as participants in the wedding – Rebecca’s brother was the officiant, Alex’s sister and her partner performed during the ceremony (one of my favorite parts of the day).

After the ceremony, everyone headed indoors for dinner and dancing. As you’ll see below, the night was filled with love, laughter and some pretty great dance moves :)

Rebecca & Alex, we can’t thank you enough for letting us be a part of your day…it was an honor. All the best to you both!

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More photos of Alex & Rebecca

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Carly + Trent | Wedding at Country Loft Antiques in Woodbury, CT

Finally, I’m able to catch up on blogging the beautiful weddings I had the pleasure of shooting this season!

Meet Carly & Trent. They met while studying abroad, in Rome. After dating for a while, Trent proposed over wine and cheese, their favorite.

Surrounded by friends and family, they became husband and wife on September 21st, at Country Loft Antiques in Woodbury, CT. As far as anyone could tell, the day went exactly as planned – nobody ran late, the weather cooperated, everyone was where they were supposed to be, when they were supposed to be there. The atmosphere was one of warmth, love and quiet calm.

Thank you, Carly and Trent, for letting me share in the beauty of your day.

Portrait of bride and groom at Country Loft Antiques, Woodbury, CT

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