Earlier this year I headed off to Birmingham, Alabama to take a workshop from Bryan Johnson from the studio A Bryan Photo. Bryan is a photographer whose work I’ve admired for some time. It started when I saw some of his pictures at the Cypress Album booth at WPPI (photography convention) a few years ago and I remember being struck by how Bryan seems to have a style all his own and seems to not be influenced by whatever trend seems to be popular this week. The kind of images he makes are the kind of images I try to make, which is to say, these are pictures that will still stand up in twenty years from now, in fifty years from now. I don’t want my pictures to be dated or tied to any specific era or trend. That’s my goal and what I want to provide for clients. And that’s what I liked about the images I saw from Bryan.
When he and I met a couple years after that, I enjoyed hearing him talk about his approach to photography. So much of what he said resonated with me, and so much of what he said sounded so much like what I’ve heard Kent Miles say. And since I pretty much believe, listen, and internalize anything Kent Miles says, I figured that I could learn a thing or two by listening to Bryan as well. It’s always good to hear new perspectives.
Bryan isn’t the loudest voice in the wedding photography industry. There’s plenty of other photographers that get more attention within the industry, but the attention they get is rarely about the quality of their work, and instead, it’s usually about how loud they can shout about good they are about how telling people how loud they can shout. If that sounds like nonsense, that’s because it is. And it’s another reason I wanted to hear what Bryan had to say. He’s a great photographer, but I also like his business. Bryan is very careful at choosing the clients he wants to work with and that will resonate with his particular style. He’s less interested in convincing people to hire him, and more interested in cultivating an attitude that only a select, distinct group of people can be his clients. It’s not snooty, it’s deliberate. His clients are his first priority, not popularity.
I went to Birmingham to see what his studio looked like, what his day-to-day operations looked like, and to hear as much as I could about his business philosophy. I wanted to see him shoot, too, I guess, but I always feel like a photographer’s shooting style is so personal and hard to teach. Business acumen is something a little more tangible and easier to pass along. That’s what I wanted to learn from Bryan.
We arrived on Sunday night and gathered at his studio to get to know everybody. Bryan and his wife Ashley talked about their journey in this business. The next day, we officially began the workshop. Topics for the next three days included studio management, the history of wedding photography, marketing, and a handful of other topics that were just what I wanted to hear. We also heard from wedding planners Maria and Kelly from Ritzy Bee, and from Branden Lower who is Bryan’s production manager and also shoots super 8 films for the studio, and we heard from Ashley, Brian’s wife.
And it was, after all, a photography workshop, so here are some of the pictures I took while I was there. Styled by Caroline Brewer.
Caroline and Clark Brewer
Lisa Maria O’Quinn
Caroline Brewer, Lisa Marie, Meredith Montague
A few from one night at dinner
Branden, Kelly, Maria
Bryan and Ashley
So glad these two were there – Kelly and Maria from Ritzy Bee
For me, one of the best parts about the workshop was getting me meet the other workshop attendees, Meredith Montague and Lisa Maria O’Quinn, both awesome photographers. There’s a couple pictures of them posted above. Here’s what they posted from the workshop on their blogs.
Meredith – post one and post two
Lisa Maria – post one and post two
You might also want to check out Bryan’s post from the workshop.
Clark, his assistant, is also an amazing photographer and his website is here, and his wife, Caroline, is a fantastic stylist.
Thanks to Bryan and his staff for providing such an enjoyable workshop and for opening up his studio for a few days. I’m so glad to have visited.