Ana Brandt Workshop at Grey Loft Studio
October 7th, 2018
I met Ana Brandt… now that’s not something every photographer can say! Not only did I meet her, but I had the opportunity to have her come to my home for a famous Ana Brandt workshop. She taught a group of 10 photographers from multiple provinces. We had a variety of Canadians from Quebec and Ontario and one from as far as Saskatchewan. The experience was surreal. It took me about 2 hours to stop being so star struck around her. I was in complete awe of how she carried herself in a new space and how she was so calm throughout the whole process. I didn’t think I could adore her any more than I already did, but it happened.
In the beginning
Let me rewind to the very beginning of how I found out about Ana until the day we met.
I started an account with Creative Live and started watching videos of all kinds. I realized I really wanted to learn the art of Maternity & Newborn photography. My first born Philippe quickly became my test subject and I began posing him on various backdrops. I knew I was still an amateur and decided to hire a photographer to take newborn pictures of Philippe so I could learn. Of course, I didn’t want to spend too much money and in return received low quality digital files. Still to this day I regret my decision. Now, what motivates me, is creating art of the highest quality that clients can cherish forever.
Back to Creative Live I go, trying to find how I can improve. Who’s this? Ana Brandt? Video purchased… Not knowing it was going to change my life. I quickly learned how to sell, market, and how to grow a business while watching Ana. She said that if she didn’t have any clients then I needed to find people, even if it was for free. Above all, master my skills and keep busy so that other people would see my talent and book me, and of course, it worked!
Today I am a full-time photographer and I have a fully dedicated studio with a team of photographers. I specialize in Wedding, Newborn, and Family Photography and I absolutely love what I do. The opportunity to work with people makes me happy. I get excited about pretty things (what girl doesn’t)! It’s my motivation, especially when the business is hard at times. Don’t let anything you see online fool you, because even Ana shared shared her story about the lack of unicorns and rainbows. It takes a lot of focus and dedication to always keeping up with trends and staying in front of your client’s minds when it comes to running a successful business.
Where will my business be in 20 years from now?? I can honestly tell you that I will continue to be a photographer and mentor. I want to travel the world and teach what I have learned over the years focusing on promoting a safe, creative, and profitable business. As a result, new entrepreneurs will see the light at the end of the tunnel on becoming a success. This business, or any business, is not for the faint of heart.
How did you even get her to come to Ottawa?
Well, this was by chance my friends. I just happened to be scrolling on Facebook (pregnant with twins and was told to take it easy) when I saw a post in a group that Ana runs. She was on the hunt for new places to host workshops and she must have had over 100 comments. I just posted “PLEASE COME TO MY STUDIO IN OTTAWA, CANADA”… Ok, maybe it wasn’t in bold but it was a pretty desperate attempt to get her attention. About 10 other photographers started replying “Yes, I will come to Ottawa if there is a workshop!”. What happened next? Ana posted a simple, OK!
Next thing I knew she sent me a DM and a date was confirmed. I was so excited that I didn’t even care that it was on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend as I just didn’t want to give her any reason not to come! The workshop quickly sold out and the excitement grew!
The Workshop with Ana
I couldn’t sleep the night before. The anticipation of the big day when I would see Ana come through my front door was overwhelming. First of all, I cleaned up the studio and tidied my house. I had my husband Luc make some pastries, baked goods, and cut up some fruits. The house was ready.
The other photographers started to arrive one by one. Everyone started introducing themselves and talking about their experience as photographers. Finally, Ana shows up and we can begin the workshop! We head upstairs into my studio and form a big circle on the floor until the first model is set to arrive. We start by introducing ourselves along with our specialization.
Here comes Trouble
We notice that the time is passing quickly because everyone is having so much fun. The clock now shows 10am and the first model hasn’t arrived so we call.. and call… and text.. and email… no one can reach them. It’s a good thing we have a back-up model in case this happens, therefore we reach out to them and similarly, the person is not answering! Everyone is starring at each other trying to figure out what to do. We go through the list of potential models one by one and are not successful, furthermore, we STILL haven’t heard from our original models. Panic?!?
I have an idea! My neighbour recently had a baby (5 days old), in other words, we still have a shot at having a baby present for this workshop. I give them a call and thankfully they answer and agreed to be part of our workshop – a victory. Luckily, we had two maternity models, but it was a close one.
Baby, we’ve got a date
The baby (Amelia) arrives with mom and dad at last, and we can see Ana’s magic in action. She wraps the baby and shows us how to use an exercise ball as a chair. Furthermore it doubles as a bouncer. Genius! Seems like a simple trick but it is really efficient – I encourage all newborn photographers to try this. We started going through what types of props to use for some shoots – the key topic to keep in mind here was layers. Don’t forget about the background. In spite of the baby being the main point of focus you cannot overlook what will be surrounding your subject. It was refreshing seeing Ana grab some of my materials from deep in the pile and use them creatively.
The camera, the light, the distances, positioning, poses, angles, backdrops, props, equipment, and instructions given to subjects are an extension of ones self when you are professional. It takes a special balance finding that perfect shot. The one quote that stuck with me was “the picture in your camera should look as identical as what your eyes see”. As a result, I have had to learn, and practice different camera and light settings. Be creative with props and think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to try something even if you don’t believe it will work… you may be surprised! I remember Ana put something together, took a picture of it, only to mutter the words “I hate it”. At first, I laughed thinking it was funny because that never happens to me.
Did this mean I wasn’t thinking outside the box? Had I already gotten so comfortable using the same shots over and over that I didn’t experiment anymore? I started a new mission – to challenge myself with new poses, new ways of doing business, and not being afraid of the result. The workshop for me wasn’t about the information, or technical prowess used to get the best photos.. it was about trying.. trying something new… trying and never giving up.
What did you learn in the workshop?
At the beginning during the introductions, everyone shared a story about their experience as a photographer. I quickly realized all levels of photographers were present. Some had never photographed a newborn before! It was interesting to see the kind of influence Ana had on their businesses. The workshop was more than I could have imagined. Ana’s confidence takes over the room and teaching is second nature for her. She is accurate with her settings, lighting, angles, and very quick to tell you to try something until you nail it in camera to avoid overshooting.
I have to admit she gave me a shopping list of must-haves to boost my business to the next level. Because of what she said, I had the energy and motivation I needed. In a strange sense, I felt it gave me permission to keep doing what I am doing and to continually push myself to grow bigger.
I walked away with a few minor tweaks that have cut my editing time in half or more. She taught me one of the most important things, to just keep going. To keep doing what I have been doing. Working hard and showing up is the only way I will grow. Making myself stand out as much as possible whenever I can. Being unique in a saturated market takes out the competition.
I will be forever thankful to Ana.
If you are interested in anything to do with Ana, I have linked all info below for you to get involved!
Photography Below: Grey Loft Studio (Bethany)
Ana Brandt: @anabrandt
My Maternity Session
When Ana heard that I was pregnant with Twins, she immediately said that I could model for the workshop. Can you believe it? Pictures of me during my last pregnancy by the most famous photographer from California, of which whom is doing a workshop in my little Ottawa studio! Let me tell you I was SO excited. There weren’t many fun things to anticipate while pregnant with twin, but this definitely helped.
Ana kept asking me what I wanted to wear so she could bring some outfits. But all I wanted was to do them nude. I remember watching all her posing of nude pregnancy and I was captivated. Including Luc and Phil for a few photos was important and of course my son impressed everyone with his patience as a model. He was telling me to focus and to get ready as he stood quietly and beautifully for 9 people to take our photos. Proud is an understatement, not only as a mother but that he is inspired by photography as well. He followed us around for most of the workshop and couldn’t get enough of it.
Photography Below: Belly Baby Love (Ana Brandt)
Ana Brandt: @anabrandt