I’ve been a fan of Jerry Ghionis for a few years now, the best wedding photographer the world has seen in my opinion. He has the ability to craft images with such depth and emotion without looking contrived – his work is outstanding. I always knew from the start that I’d like to attend one of his 5-day workshops however with all the expenses like many I went “blooming heck”.
So you wondering whether to buy that new lens right or spend the money with Jerry? what follows is just honesty, my thoughts and whether I think he’s worth it… So what happens over these 5 days? Overall there’s no wasted time on this course, every hour is used to it’s maximum & there’s no 9 till 5 either. You WILL be up late, you WILL get tired but all the way through you’ll see how Jerry’s teaching methods are engaging in so many ways. He won’t paint a picture that the wedding photography industry is lined with pink fluffy clouds, he wont tell you it’s easy to be successful. He will though show you the answers to ALL your questions, no rocks left unturned. He’ll share his secrets, his past, his personal life and most of all he’ll dig deep into your mind and almost hide your soul – trust me, I have met many people through my 34 years and very few of them have left such a mark. Jerry Ghionis is more than a photographer and those 5 days will show you that being a great photographer is only one piece of the puzzle. He’ll take you up, give you the candy & then bring you down to earth feeling like Mike Tyson just kicked the crap out of you in a dark alley. It was a little surreal……..
Myself and fellow photographer, Neal Shaw arrived in London eagerly awaiting what lay ahead. My first impressions on Jerry Ghionis? Damn this guys slick and cooler than a Polar Bears foot, together Jerry & Melissa just ooze style and refinement, 5 minutes in their presence you soon see their warmth towards people. I liked them straight away. After introductions were over Jerry’s sense of humor becomes apparent, he’s a funny guy and soon puts you at ease. From there, straight into 10 hours of classroom critique where each student was asked to supply 10 images SOOC from the same wedding and 5 images of their best. This first process is long and arduous, by 11pm your eyes are stinging however one thing repetition provides is the “tattoo effect” – you become far more aware of what’s good/bad within an image & it’s now tattooed to the back of your eyeballs.
Kicks off with some theory for a few hours in the morning and then off around the streets of London armed with our cameras. Here’s where one of the many pennies dropped for me, Jerry shows you how to find the light in all surroundings, even that shitty overcast weather. Let’s face it, how many of use look at the sky and think “Hmmmmm miserable grey, flat light“. Not Jerry Ghionis, there’s always good light to use and now he shows you how. I was pretty blown away with the next few hours and how Jerry Ghionis selects the crappiest of locations yet creates beautiful images. From flat light, to shade, to pavements, to hard sun, to his use of reflectors he shares it all and how to use your surroundings in shaping the image. Not just in terms of light but pose and story….After the sun had set we all enjoyed a meal out and then carried on until midnight. We walked up and down the streets using anything and everything, pretty cool I’d say. No shots for that stage I’m afraid as Jerry Ghionis asked no cameras…
Part of the previous days itinerary was each student had 10 minutes with a model to shoot some images. We were to pick one image for critique, did we use the light? how was our posing? again all this repetition really helps you to see the problems. After lunch it’s back out again this time around Covent Garden.
This is the day my soul was hidden. It was intense, deep and emotional and why it became more than just a photography workshop for me. Why emotional? go on the course and find out. The morning starts just like Day 3 with a critique of the second lot of images then it’s into business, albums & branding. The information being shared on day 4 was awesome, my hand was scribbling faster than the Prime Minsters secretary. How Jerry Ghionis sells albums, why he sells them etc. The branding was a real eye opener for all of us I think. I could write a whole list of topics/points about what Jerry Ghionis shared but it’s something that needs to be experienced for ones self.
So here we are, the last 4 hours of a roller-coaster week. I woke at 5am that morning as my mind was racing, I sat drinking coffee and reflecting over many things the course had opened my eyes too. Some fairly deep thoughts were flying around inside. The morning was spent all about the selling & how to market – this is where the last 5 days came together and all made sense. It was pretty amazing and Jerry shows why he’s one of the best!
If your a photographer that hits your 30/40 weddings a year and believes your work is fine, great. Maybe the course isn’t for you. Perhaps your business model is in a nice place and have no need to expand – nothing wrong with following the same route each year. If on the other hand your like me, never really satisfied with the work you do or only for a short time before you become bored, always searching for ways to create a better image, to be the best you can be through imagery, sales, charisma…. then it’s a no brainer. All in all this week has single handily been the best investment I could have made for my business and I’ve walked away feeling not only has this benefited my business but me too….. the course really has been “life changing”. I’ve met 19 amazing fellow photographers from Czechoslovakia, Portugal, Germany, USA, Australia to the Asian community all connected through the sames dreams and aspirations. We all wanted to be the best version of ourselves and now feel we can be. Jerry Ghionis is a great guy, he’s passionate, creative, re-invents himself all the time and pushes the boundaries while never at the expense of the craft. His empathy with people is inspiring and gives you more than photography to think about. He’s a life coach too in my opinion.
On a personal level I know my pitfalls and Jerry was that mirror that’s missing, he’s helped me to look at myself and given me some tools to fight my own demons. Sounds pretty crazy right? all this from a photography course, it’s true. Another important note is it’s not just Jerry, it’s his wife Melissa too. She’s an incredible person, inspiring, warm and makes the Ghionis brand stronger than ever I would say. Together, they’re on fire. Don’t think or hesitate – just book and expand your mind.
I think one of the biggest satisfactions one can get in life is knowing that one has had a positive impact on another person. By touching just one person, you can reach many many more. I can't really begin to tell you the impact that you have both had on me this past week. Admittedly I have followed your work Jerry for a long time and, like I shared at the circle of trust:), have been placing money in the Jerry Pot for over 3 years. My friends and family would give me notes and coins to place in there instead of presents and I don't know how many times my husband Greg placed a 20 or a 50 in the pot. That simple action always created instant happiness :) But nothing had prepared me for the workshop experience.
Before coming to the workshop, the admiration for the finesse and perfectionism in you work was already there. And as an avid member of Ice Society, I loved the way you related and communicated with whomever you were posing and I loved the way you kept your clicks to what was needed. I can see all the hard work that has gone into making the Ice Society even better. If nothing else, I would not be a photographer if it wasn't for the inspiration that I received from Ice. It is the reason that I have continued to travel down the path of perfecting my own craft. From a place of constant dissatisfaction with the imagery that I co-create, Ice was literally like a little beam of light showing me that there was a better way to do things. I really can't be grateful enough that you are sharing what you know and how you do things with the rest of us.
And because you're always working on being a better person, you are a fantastic educator. I know, because I'm a teacher, so I know what it takes to be a great one.
I was touched by many things in London, in fact I was really quite emotional the whole week.
Your patience, for example, was very humbling, answering questions that have been asked a million times before. Delivering critiques where you spotted the same mistakes made over and over. But you were honest and gentle. And I can see how your empathy with us is the same empathy you have for your clients and probably everyone else around you. What a wonderful lesson - be a better person, indeed!
Friends of mine are asking me, "How did it go?" and I can't even begin to tell them how powerful this experience has been. I'll give them an idea, and then think to myself; "And what I've said is just tip of the iceberg stuff (no pun intended)".
There is great gratitude here for both of you. Gratitude that you are a living breathing "outliers" and that you are sharing what you know with all of us. I was terrified that the level where I am at would not be good enough to go to one of your workshops, now I'm elated that I put a date on it and made it work. Pleased that I got as much out of it as I did and looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
You described your perfect day for us and it was awesome. Greg and I have those too - what's not to love? Now in terms of all the energy, empathy and goodwill that you placed in your workshop, both of you and the rest of the members of the group gave me the perfect week. And for that (though it sounds a bit over the top and dramatic), I will be forever grateful. There will definitely be a BEFORE and AFTER this workshop. I recorded everything and will keep listening to it for the nuggets that I didn't totally get this time around, but will continue to reap as I progress along the continuum of learning and perfecting.
I wish you both the very best in LA and great success in whatever you set your minds to. You are a wonderful, synergistic couple, thank you so very much for everything. If you come to Spain, drop me a line. You have a friend in me.
Lots of love + gratitude,
Dearest Jerry and Melissa
Thank you for being the most selfless people I have ever known and undoubtedly will ever come to know, effortlessly giving all of yourselves to each and every one of us this week.
To say that I am forever in your debt would be a cop out. I can repay your gifts through my own successes and I 'am' committing to those successes to you right here and now.
I will repay your gift of knowledge with my commitment to staying true to the craft and will persist to become the best photographer that I can possibly be.
I will repay your gift of empathy by seeing every client through the eyes of a loved one and and will share with them the gift of beauty.
I will repay your gift of love with being a better person. More present in the life of my loved ones, treating each moment with them as if the last. A more loving wife, a more patient daughter, a more attentive sister, aunty, friend and colleague.
Finally, I will repay your gift of clarity by remembering to love myself, because without that fundamental piece of the puzzle, none of the above would be achievable.
We are your legacy Jerry and Melissa and I will cherish that forever with the dignity and respect that it deserves.
Thank you always