2016 Fearless Conference for Wedding Photographers in Porto: Key Learnings

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the 2016 Fearless Conference for wedding photographers in the beautiful Portuguese city of Porto (yes this is were Port comes from). Fearless Photographers is a community of some of the most mind blowingly skilled wedding photographers from around the globe set up the visionary Huy Nguyen.

The Speakers

The speakers were all remarkable individuals with some amazing thought provoking stories, tremendous passion and sensational talent. They never held back in sharing everything they had to offer. I’ve added a link to each of the speakers below and highly recommend you check them out if you’re not already familiar with their work.

I’ve written this blog post in part as a reminder to myself of all the things I’ve learnt, but also to say a massive thank you to all the incredible speakers and organisers who made it happen! Hopefully it can also highlight to other photographers the incredible impact this form of education can have on your business.

Dennis Berti at the 2016 Fearless Conference in Porto, Shoot A Lot

It’s taken a week to start to get my head around everything that was covered, but here are the key things I took away from conference:

Virginia GimenoShoot every wedding like it’s your first.

Virginia focused on how we approached a wedding day and what we should be looking to capture in our photos. She introduced the Six Ws: 1) Who, 2) Where, 3) When, 4) Why, 5) What, 6) WOOOW. A helpful approach to remember when heading into a wedding day.

Mike Garrard Business is about relationships.

Mike’s talk was different from the others in that it focussed on the business side of things, specifically the importance of building relationships with both your clients and your colleagues in the industry. “If you take care of your couples, your profits will take care of themselves.” He provided some great ideas about how we can make our couples feel more cared about.

Brett ButtersteinFind your voice.

Brett shared his transition within wedding photography from where his work was to where it is today. He talked about breaking the rules and infusing your personality into your work (I’m a huge advocate of this). He also shared some of his thought provoking personal projects (something I really want to do more of myself this year).

Damon Pijlman speaking in Porto at the 2016 Fearless Conference for wedding photographers

Dennis Berti ‘Di Lusso’ & Shoot More.

If you haven’t met Dennis before, he is certainly a one of a kind character with an infectious energy. Some of his key points were delegating/outsourcing, sweat (got to work for it) and the importance of listening to people (e.g. Sending your wedding couples a feedback form to complete). But the main takeaway from me was to ‘shoot more’. I’ll definitely be getting out on the street more with my Fuji X100s.

Photo Critiques – Hands, Eyeballs & Moments.  

These sessions were a great help and were run by the legendary Sergio, Huy, Candice and Kelly. Seeing individual photos critiqued got me thinking a lot about what goes through my mind when I’m setting up my own shots. Key takeaways included the importance of: hands, eyeballs, the moment, what’s the story, and keeping an invisible bubble around the subject’s head (i.e. separation).

Damon PijlmanKeep Swimming.

I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who’s so infectiously happy as Damon. He was certainly the perfect choice to kick off the morning after a party. Key takeaways from Damon included: shooting through a moment (keep trying to improve the shot, move low, high, sideways), use the trust your clients give you and above all just keep swimming forward.

Franck Boutonnet speaking in Porto at the 2016 Fearless Conference for wedding photographers

Citlalli RicoFailing is a learning process.

It seems a little depressing but failing can be one of the best educational tools out there. Citlallii shared lots of different ways photographers commonly fail and provided some great practical tips on how to avoid such mistakes ourselves. When ’shit happens’ Citlallii talked of the importance of learning from it and getting back on your feet quickly.

Franck Boutonnet – To compose is to create order from the chaos.

After sharing sources of his inspiration (included giants like Alex Webb, Don McCullin and Yuri Kozyrev) Franck broke down the composition of his photos and highlighted the importance of clean backgrounds, isolating subjects and not mutilating your subjects (e.g. cutting off their hands out of the frame). Understanding the thought that goes into a photographer’s images really helps you start thinking about your own approach.

Lanny & Erika MannBalls out.

There are so many takeaways from these legends that I’m just going to list them off. Stress is good; seek adversity; don’t shoot how it looks, shoot how it feels; focus on the subject, not you; perspective is everything; in Chinese the word crisis = danger + opportunity; never do ‘should’ (most dangerous word there is), just do it; and of course  – balls out!

Lanny & Erika Mann from Two Mann Studios speaking in Porto at the 2016 Fearless Conference

Welcome to an Amazing International Community

The above focuses on education, but the fearless conference is so much more than that. Probably the most beneficial part of the Fearless Conference for me was the community which I was welcomed into with open arms. The ability to meet amazing individuals from around the globe who can be a source of support and inspiration in the years to come is priceless. The partying was pretty epic too :)

The next Fearless Conference this side of the pond will be taking place next year in Eastern Europe. Hope to see you there!

Lanny & Erika Mann from Two Mann Studios speaking in Porto at the 2016 Fearless Conference