Ep. 027 – Focal Points with CoHost Jonny Edward: The Recap of WPPI 2024 (Part 1)

This is another installment of a sub-series of Generator called "Focal Points" where Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Jonny Edward, a commercial and portrait photographer, as well a top-tier educator based in Denver, Colorado about a variety of topics. In this episode, Matt & Jonny recount their vastly different experiences at WPPI 2024 in Las Vegas. This is Part 1 of a two part episode. There will be more topic explorations on future episodes of Focal Points so stay tuned for those! For more on Jonny Edward's photography and educational courses, please visit jonnyedward.com

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Full Transcript of Generator Ep. 027 - "The Recap of WPPI 2024"

Matt Stagliano 0:00
Welcome back friends, you may have noticed that things have been a little less than consistent lately. And while I want to apologize for it, I’ll try to make it up to you nonetheless, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind with the majority of time being taken up, both preparing for and attending WPPI huge photo conference out in Las Vegas. I had planned to record a bunch of interviews while I was out there and bring back snippets from a lot of new guests, but that just never really happened. So instead, I thought I’d create another focal points episode with Johnny Edward and have a deep dive into all things. WPPI Johnny and I shared a room at The Mirage as we have at several other conferences, and we do it for a variety of reasons to save money to hang out and more importantly, to make sure that we both escape Vegas alive. And I suppose if you’re hearing this, we were successful on all accounts. This conversation is a long one clocking in at a little over two hours, so I’ve decided to split it into two parts. In this first part, we talk about our completely different experiences at this year’s WPPI. Some of the good the bad, and of course, are unsolicited opinions on what we could do better when it comes to the shooting bass. Part two is a bit more lighthearted and while only time will tell if it’s the right thing to do to be this honest, you’ll hear about Johnny’s post WPPI workshop, which led to our last night in Vegas, which was the closest I’ll ever get to living like Hunter S Thompson. So let’s dive right in to a full recap of WPPI 2024 On this episode of focal points with my friend Jonny Edward

I actually am digging in the new setup, you put new shelves in and some old cameras and yeah, I

Jonny Edward 2:14
decided just well the environmental thing I actually got that from you going like alright, I love this spatial thing, but giving a little bit more context and bringing in some visual things. So if someone goes around the frame, there’s actually something to look at, which was my fucking poison because I’m like, alright, well those aren’t lit now. So fucking projector here. Projector there. rim light fucking here. And then as soon as I got into it, I was just like, Oh my fucking god, like what am I doing with my life? How’s

Matt Stagliano 2:38
it been? The week post WPPI Are you survive like I have Are you still all a mess?

Jonny Edward 2:45
I’m still I mean, I’m good. But I’m, I’m still a mess. You know, I think I’m a good mess. I think there’s there’s always a refractory period. For me after these conferences, I’ll say I felt the best after this that I’ve ever felt after a conference. But it was just the sort of emotional, social taxing of it all the cumulative effect. And it was really good. By and large, I met great people, you and me hanging out the entire time was wonderful. There were all these really positive aspects, but it’s just I am an introvert extrovert and that extrovert part of me was very well fed. And the introvert part of me was completely fucking starved. So I g ot back famished and I’m like, Alright, I need to retreat into myself. And so I did the Netflix and chill, you know, and fucking just ordered in food and ate like seven pizzas in one day and had heartburn for 24 hours straight. But then there were all of these looming things that I still needed to do for stuff that was upcoming. So I gave myself about 24 hours of nothing. And then automatically was like, Alright, I have to jump back into the fucking fire now because I’m so behind the curve. So I’ve just been chasing my tail a little bit and trying to do the self care but also trying to be pragmatic so that the self care doesn’t turn into not necessarily self destruction, but self harm and away we’re on postponing things that really cannot be postponed reasonably.

Matt Stagliano 4:03
You want to decompress. You want to give yourself time to just kind of get back into that mental space. But there’s always that looming. I you know, I just missed a week and I need to play catch up. How am I going to do that? And it’s finding that balance. I know. For me, it was kind of the same my my introvert got fed because I basically shut myself off from society all week. And then my extrovert side at WPPI. I forced to happen, because it took me so long to get back home after your workshop that Friday night, hung out. Talking about that Friday night and a little bit. The Saturday I spent at at the airport and then took the Red Eye home while I’m taking the Red Eye home time changed, right the time change happened. So by the time I landed, I was like that Robin Williams meme. I’m like, what year is it? I had no clue when I landed in Boston, where I was what year it was, did anything really just happen or did I just dream this past? Last week, so this whole week after W PPI has been really trying to get my body clock going. And unlike you, I don’t have a million things on my plate. But I was still trying to feel like I was playing catch up and get organized again. And I’ve got all my legal pads and all my To Do lists and all my things. And I still don’t feel like I’ve got my feet back underneath me. So, you know, what I find really interesting is we had so much time, right, we’d meet up in the we’d meet up in the hotel room be like, Alright, what’s the game plan, and I’d see you run off, and I’ve run off in a different direction. But we had vastly different experiences during the entire week. So I was fully just attending, hanging out doing my thing. And you were in booths and teaching and modeling. I know, every time that I walked by your booth, it was swamped. How did you manage the modeling and the teaching and the crowd control? And all of that at once I was getting so much sensory overload, I couldn’t handle it. How did you do it? The

Jonny Edward 6:13
best I could? That’s probably the answer. Um, you know, so for me, I, the modeling thing is fun for me, I’m not gonna lie, obviously, I like being in front of the camera I wanted I wanted to teach. So I wanted to teach and speak at WPPI. They didn’t give me that opportunity directly. I think it’s something weird that’s happened in the past couple of conferences where they know I have a certain look and a certain energy and charisma, however, we want to sort of categorize that. So they decided to sort of, for lack of better phrasing, pigeonhole me into the modeling thing, which is all well and good, but it’s not where my heart’s really out. And I feel like in a way, who I am is Miss allocated when I’m just simply standing in front of the camera. And that’s just my take. And obviously, I’m very biased in that. So my asked for them was I’m like, Listen, I’ll do this and one of the bays, however, I don’t want someone sort of like almost teaching, or guiding or like body guarding me while I’m doing it, I still want to be able to interact with these photographers and teach them. And I probably bit off more than I can chew with that. But it gave me a chance to actually properly connect, because I feel like at these conferences, and of course, we’ll talk about this more in a bit. So often, if there’s a photographer, they walk up, and they see the model, and they’re like, good. Cool, right? Thank you. I’m Bill, and they walk away. And I wanted more than that. So for me, I think I, I always subdivide things. In my mind, I’ve done this since I was a kid. So like, I can’t look at the totality of something because the anxiety sets in, and I get so fucking mired in it that then I’m like, this seems like a good solution. And that’s not for those of you who are just listening. And you can’t see there was a gun to my head, not a real gun, but a finger gun back back. But I realized there’s so much ahead of me that I just sort of get paralyzed. So I literally looked at the single person in front of me, you know, when I was there at the booth and everything on the periphery disappeared. And so that’s why I think I came across as so genuine, because I was so if you were there, I’d be like, Hey, Matt, what’s going on? What do you have going on? Here’s our lighting setup. Today, we can turn this on, we can turn this up? What are you feeling mood wise, like, this is what I can do. Here’s some ideas for you. But I’m here for you. So what do you want? And I think in doing that I allowed myself like each thing drained me but it also recharged me because it felt more intimate. So if I wouldn’t have done that, and sort of like gone above and tried to connect in a more direct way with people, I think I would have just gotten eviscerated by the whole thing. But each little thing was a microcosm unto itself. And of course, by the time, you know, one o’clock, and I was fucking famished, and they’re like, you have to take a break. And I’m like, well, there’s 20 people, and I feel fucking bad, because they’d been here for 30 minutes. And they had to whip me and tell me to go eat, you know, beef and broccoli in the back or whatever the fuck was staged. But I think it was it was really, for me trying to make the most of it. Like I’ve been in a lot of these conferences. And you know, it’s sort of like a high school lock in at the bowling alley when someone sneaks in mushrooms and vodka. And so, you know, it’s just been like, Oh, we’re fucking here. And we’re adults, but we’re also kids. And we’re away from responsibilities. And I told myself, I’m like, well, that’s fine. And that’s well and good. But I actually wanted to make the most of it and focus on just connection in a way that I hadn’t before. And so I probably haven’t answered the question at all. I’m doing the politician thing. That’s a great,

Matt Stagliano 9:27
no, I think you did. So one of the things I have a love hate relationship with the shooting base, right. So having experienced them for so many years at the portrait masters, it’s always been a really cool thing to be able to have, you know, almost an infinite array of models and backgrounds and lighting setups, and you can go and really create stuff for your portfolio or just learn different lighting setups or learn how to interact with the model like I really loved that. The heat side of it is that it because I rely so much on connection, I only get two minutes, maybe three minutes. Now, the way that I shoot, I like to try to be intentional. And I say, Alright, I’m gonna go into this booth. With this lens, we’re gonna take three frames, I’m gonna switch to this lens, take three more frames, and then be done. That could take me two minutes, it could take me 10 minutes, I have no idea what I’m walking into. But usually two minutes is plenty of time for me. This year, I felt like every time I wandered into a shooting Bay, it was really rushed. It was I felt very out of sorts, and nothing to do with the models. All of the models that I worked with were great. But I just felt this overwhelming. Overload this sensory overload. It was maybe it’s there’s too many people too many cross conversations. I feel like I could connect. And I just wanted avoiding the shooting base altogether. And then just observing what was going on. So there were a couple of days that I saw that were really, really good. Yours obviously was nonstop action. And every time I looked over, I’m like, Of course he’s in an Aunt Jemima bonnet and wings. And then the next day, it’s like, of course, he’s a cube. And he’s mo right. So your styling was great. I thought Mitzi Starkweather, his booth was great. It was kind of like the polar opposite of what you had with all the styling and the attention. Hers was very stripped down for the rock portrait stuff. And people were having a blast with it. And I love that a lot of the other Bay’s what I saw was the paparazzi, the Puranas, right? So even while one person is engaged with the model and working with them, you’ve got crowds of people around just shooting over the shoulder. One, it’s annoying, too annoying to watch, right? Because they’re so consumed that people aren’t getting out of your way. Just be decidedly polite. The third thing, and I had to wonder this as a photographer, I’m like, what, what pictures are you getting with? Yeah, and I saw it all week. It wasn’t just the like the shooting Bay alley, it was everywhere. Oh,

Jonny Edward 12:12
it was it was TPM. It was the parties we attended. And those things. I think

Matt Stagliano 12:17
people feel like they’re going to miss a moment. And I’ve got to capture everything, rather than just being present, and observing and taking pictures with your eyes, rather than just your camera. And I feel like there’s this need to shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, and less of a need to just sit back and think do I even need this image? Absolutely something that I could use or sell or market. A lot of the times the styling is so over the top. And I mean that in a good way, it’s antastic it’s so beautiful. There’s not a lot of people that sell that kind of work, or it’s right. And I just I wonder with all of these photographers, they’re taking all these pictures. What is it that they’re learning and I asked that honestly, I don’t know what it is that they’re going home with. Because I know I think I shot a total of 70 usable frames the entire week, right before the scholar was showing you some of them that was the best of the best. And I really didn’t shoot a whole lot because there wasn’t anything that I could really pull into my own business. So my experience with the shooting base was just that too many people too much too little intentionality. And too much just trying to capture capture capture because I’m there let me just shoot everything. Yeah, I don’t know, I find that weird, especially amongst so many photographers that there’s so little intention did you feel people coming into your booth that they had an intention, I think

Jonny Edward 13:50
my experience was probably different simply because like people who were there could see that I was interacting and asking for that level of intention from people. So I think there’s the aspect of like what someone brings to the table and then there’s sort of like us on the other side of that in production as models as mentors as whatever in the intention that we’re setting for people so part of it is their mindset and part of it is the mindset we’re framework that we’re creating for them so I think you know and there was that fucking lion that was going around the side and I looked and I would fall Oh shit. But every single person who was coming up saw me walk up and once again say like, Hey, what’s going on? Now this is what’s happening like we have a tea light we have a backlight if my hats on I suggest keeping it on for separation. If it’s off on the shiny motherfucker, let’s turn it off because that’s not the greatest look for me and you’re not going to love those photos. So there was that element and I’m like, do you want the jacket on? Do you want the jacket off? Do you want me sad melancholy? The most requested fucking thing that I got from everyone of course was can you be The Joker and I was like, Yeah, I can be a I can be a complete fucking maniac that’s been castigated by society and left by the wayside. I think I can manufacture that persona but So I think part of it was me that I did see that and like und spent that day when I first got in at TPM, shooting some of the days. And obviously, you saw what I did, like, I went in, and I felt the same way that you did, I got a couple of shots that I really loved. And then I, you know, tried to modify the base. So I turned off a fill light and one of them and that felt really good, but it’s the same thing it I think there’s this essence almost of like, I versus us. Yeah, we’re a lot of people. And I know that sounds like something that would be in like a yoga teacher training. People are there and they’re so encapsulated in themselves that they’re missing out on the greater experience, like, what am I going to get? What am I going to create? I need this, I need that instead of being like, oh, fuck, I’m in line with all of these other people. Here’s the maternity photographer. Here’s a family portrait photographer. Here’s a fashion photographer. Oh, fuck, here’s a famous photographer that I adore, who’s in line waiting, or here’s someone who’s asked me for advice. And so we just lose sight of everything that’s around us and become so myopic, that we’re so obsessed. And then there’s this like economic value thing, where it’s like, well, I paid X, hundreds of dollars to be here, and I’m paying X hundreds of dollars to this fucking hotel that’s just raking me over the coals and charging me 20 bucks for water. And there’s this there’s that I need to recoup my investment by shooting 2000 frames a day, even though none of those frames have any value whatsoever. But I think it’s just people being too wrapped up in and lost in themselves and their experience and in that closing themselves off to the greater experience and the greater connections. And for me, that’s what it’s really fucking all about. But it’s just a different mindset, given where I’m at in my journey, and I know you feel similarly but to, to come back around. Yes, I absolutely saw that I absolutely experienced that. And I think Mitzi was a great thing, you know, or having people prompt, like, essentially forcing the photographer’s who were at her Bay to interact, change the dynamic, because then it wasn’t just the paparazzi, it was like, Oh, hey, Matt, be happy, be sad, be scared, be surprised. And it was so campy. But that was beautiful, because it allowed two people to actually exist amidst that chaos in a more significant way. Versus like, Oh, here’s a really beautiful, statuesque, blonde model, who styled couture, and all of us are just going to photograph her like on the red carpet. And forget the fact that we’re actually portrait photographers and the fact that this is actually a fucking person in front of us. And that’s unfortunate for everyone. And I also think you no overtly WPPI is trying to shift, of course, like everyone’s trying to pivot in this industry right now. And so they brought in those shooting days, to a degree that has never been present at WPPI before. And that’s of course, part of the merger with TPM, and taking and appropriating things here and there. But I don’t necessarily think they were even ready production wise for how fucking excited people would be to be able to do something interactive. And so there probably wasn’t even enough foresight into how to properly prepare the models and the staff that were running these booths to say, this is what it’s going to be like, This is how we deal with things. This is how we mediate and set precedent and tone and intention. And that’s not a fault of anyone. It’s just the nature of evolution and how these things sort of move forward.

Matt Stagliano 18:10
I don’t think they were prepared the powers that be right, because they introduced the the shooting base a couple years ago. And when they first got introduced, I want to say it was almost it was two years ago that they first introduced shouting bass. And people didn’t know what they were or what. Last year, they were a little bit more integrated, and people started to get the feel for it. This year, it seemed like there was a lot of attention on it. The only logistical problem I saw with it outside of my own feelings about lines and waiting and all that is the area in which it was compressed. Right? So for those of you that weren’t at WPPI, there was one area that trade hall where Peter Hurley was trying to set a record for the most amount of headshots in a day. And I don’t know if he reached or not the Guinness Book of World record, but he had like an entire end of the trade show Hall for just all these headshots stations, which was kind of cool. Yeah, I think from the standpoint of where they have the shooting bass this year in essentially one aisle in one row. If they were spread out a little bit further, to give a bit more space, I think it would feel less intense and allow the people to connect a little bit more with the models with the booth mentors with whoever might be there. It felt very cramped. And you know, I just found myself spinning in circles going are you are you in line? Am I in somebody else’s? Shai heard that a lot. You know, and there’s people they’re shooting with 300 millimeter lenses and they’re, you know, basically standing in the booth across the hall. So I think from a logistical standpoint, it proved that people love this type of amenity at a trade show. The the thing that I think they still need to work out the logistics of were, how properly spaced out how staffed like all that sort of stuff. And that

Jonny Edward 20:08
will work itself out in time for sure, of course. And I think there is there’s also a two fold benefit if that were to be more segments, and people would be able to essentially have a little bit of a blinder on because it’s all not happening at the same place. But that also would create better flow throughout the show floor for vendors as well. You know, because I know personally, like when I was just walking, like, as soon as I would get off, I’m like, I wanted to connect with sigma, I want to connect with Sony, I just didn’t have the bandwidth for that. Like, once they let me offer my break. I’m like, by the time I walk three city blocks to where food staging is that stuff my face like it’s the mess hall, put my plate up and get back, I’m still going to be five minutes late. So I didn’t have I didn’t have the time for that. But what I did see was it was so heavily weighted to that right side of the room that vendors who were on the other side, were sort of left by the wayside. So I think they could probably strategically placed those shooting days, not only to create separation and distinction, but also some semblance of almost like finish way or flow throughout the trade show floor that would benefit attendees, vendors, models, and just everyone. It would be a win win all around so well. We’ll see what happens especially that they’re, you know, switching over to the Rio which is a whole other thing entirely.

Matt Stagliano 21:18
I’ve never been to the Rio I think it’d be interesting, but I swear to God if they don’t put some fucking water on the tradeshow floor. I it really astounded me and I don’t know if that was a call of emerald with the trade show. I assume not. I assume it was probably something to do with the Hotel Casino and Conference Center. The fact that there was unless I missed it, there were no water stations anywhere inside the trade show. And I think just from a human rights standpoint, not like a great you can’t have that because the closest water was either drinking from the bathroom taps which I ain’t gonna do or walking you know, a quarter of a mile Starbucks to get a $7 bottle of water and then walk all the way back to the tradeshow that’s got to be fixed.

Jonny Edward 22:12
Well I I found it kind of weird to like I spent time growing up in Arizona and literally like it’s illegal in Arizona to deny someone water because you’re dealing with that same desert environments you have people coming from all around the world different sea levels, different environments who aren’t prepared for that you have people who maybe drink two or three times a year who went out to the country bar had an open bar and literally became fucking The Walking Dead The day after looking like California Raisins because they were dehydrated to the point where I could feel their kidneys shutting down like tangibly so I agree that was that was a big oversight not on even any type of service but just to say like hey like if someone’s insanely dehydrated number one it’s a massive health risk for them. But like you’re not going to have a good time if you’re short four liters of water like your brain doesn’t retain dopamine is not being made your reward system is short fucking circuited so just like give people water even snacks perhaps you know fucking Ola bar is something have nature’s Valley come in and we could just have crumbs all over the fucking show floor you know, but that’s a that’s a very foundational thing.

Matt Stagliano 23:17
You want to you want to keep people in your booth, Canon Fuji Nikon have just bins of water, right? Are they just little grabbing shares

Jonny Edward 23:27
timeshare status, you have to hear me talk about the Sony A one if you want 24 ounces of water and people would have been like, Oh, absolutely. I need I need a global shutter. Like that’s fucking cool, man.

Matt Stagliano 23:40
Let’s let’s step back just a second and give a huge, high five to Fuji because we walked into that big like opening night Capri party. And you know, you and I both walked into WPPI planning to have an entirely sober week. Yeah. And, you know, I know that I’ve been sober pretty much for a couple of months now. And it was feeling great. And I’m going into WPPI and I’m feeling the best I felt in a long time. We go to the party, and we’re dressed up and we’re just kind of chilling out and I’m gonna go get my you know, $11 water at the club. And then bartenders like well, it’s open bar, and I said, Excuse me,

Jonny Edward 24:19
and it threw his hat fucking off. Like,

Matt Stagliano 24:23
what did you just say to me? And he was just like, oh, it’s open bar. I’m like, Oh, this is this is not good. So, that being said, while we did maintain moderate control that night, every it’s like they locked the doors and just shit went off the rails. It was a phenomenal party. Like it was a great time. But like you said, it was like kids with no supervision. And we were only there from what 930 to maybe midnight. There. abouts ever they, whenever they close the club? Yep. And it’s, it was the most crowded I’d ever seen it. People were dancing on poles, bodies everywhere just people stumbling from bar to bar. And then everybody spilled out at the same time with that same 1000 yard stare like

Jonny Edward 25:21
one man, dead shark, where am I? What am I doing?

Matt Stagliano 25:26
And oh my god, we’ve got to get up in three hours. It was it was a great party, I had a really, really good time. But that kind of set the stage for the whole week of saying, all right, we’re definitely going to need more Gatorade on on a Walgreens. What do you need?

Jonny Edward 25:42
On on that note, too? It’s this. This is completely sort of I mean, it’s it’s aligned. But also, it’s not? What’s curious to me about the corporate entities. And of course, like, we can talk about all these brands, ultimately, they’re all just, you know, these large corporations, and they have their own agendas. But you take someone like Fuji like they’re fucking rad. I know. You’re a Fuji shooter. But I’ve been trying to get my hands on the GFX system for literally years now. I’ve been talking with them. And I’ve been on the waiting list. I was supposed to have it a TPM. Last year, I didn’t. So I’m like the amount of money that was allocated to that party. And once again, there’s no regrets from me like it was fucking rad. We had a great time. But I think all right, I know how many photographers and artists are vying to be able to either work with a new piece of Fuji gear or kit that they don’t have or explore the Fuji eco system, and they can’t do it. So I don’t even want to fucking fathom how much money was spent on Fuji on that party for something that ostensibly people aren’t going to remember. Like, they’re not going to associate it with Fuji they’re gonna associate it with the person they danced with, or someone who sold their pants, or hat or self respect, or whatever the fuck it may have been. So I’m like, where? Who is the decision maker who decides like, Hey, we’re going to allocate 456 digits, torn booze. But like when we have someone who literally might want to invest their career into our ecosystem, we’re not going to allow them to explore that opportunity. It’s just it’s a very curious thing to me overall. And that’s a philosophical sort of thing we don’t need to delve into necessarily, but it’s odd.

Matt Stagliano 27:14
No, but it’s true. Right? So marketing budgets are a thing. And it always makes me laugh. Because, you know, I see all that. And again, I love Fuji, and watching Victor, you know, look out over this crowd. He’s like, My People. People in party like, these are guys keep drinking? Like, yes, it was great. But I talked to my friend Stacy, who’s one of the marketing heads at Fuji. And yeah, basically saying, you know, like, this has been a great show. But when I look at the budgets, like you said, Where is the best allocation of funds? And this goes for any company, small or large? is? What is it that you’re trying to accomplish as a brand loyalty? Is it exposure for your products? Right, they had the big X 106. Launch? Yeah. And it’s always interesting to see what their expected outcome is for the marketing dollars. And, you know, I look at all the small booths as well. And I say, wow, they probably paid 1015 grand just to have a booth. And just

Jonny Edward 28:23
the smallest footprint. Yeah, literally, the closet booth no knocks on closet boots that still presents. And

Matt Stagliano 28:30
I was, I’m always curious, I try to go by those small booths and talk to the people there and get a feel for why are you doing this? Why are you here at this trade show? Because it brings me to my question to you, our trade shows dead, our trade shows even worth it anymore, when we have access to everybody we need to get access to we have all these small workshops and retreats popping up all over the place. You can learn anything on the internet, you can go to any camera store and play with anything. What’s the appeal? And I’m asking this because I’m trying to solidify my own thoughts on it. And I don’t know. But I feel like the big trade show that we all know, is dying a slow death, and they’re doing everything that they can to make it more interesting. I feel like when five years, no one’s going to be going to trade shows.

Jonny Edward 29:28
So as a whole like overtly I would agree with you. I think that the the consumer demand has changed. I think the marketplace has changed obviously the dynamic of what’s available to us where when and how has changed. And I think that’s probably why WPP I pivoted so hard into that shooting day aspect of it because they realize that it’s almost window shopping educator speaking at the artists thing is becoming less and less relevant with each passing day passing season passing year. So I don’t I don’t know. Oh, that is a whole it’s dead. I think as we know it, it is that. And I think this was sort of a resuscitation of sorts like trying to pivot. And I think these companies are realizing that too. And in large companies, for instance, Matt group who handles you know, nationwide and Elon chrome here in the US, gravity backdrops, a bunch of others, they had zero presence, they decided that it wasn’t relevant for them to allocate marketing dollars, because the past couple of trade shows like this have not proven a measurable return on that investment. Right. And so I think we’re seeing that happening more and more. So it’s almost like you know, the Akademia type of thing it’s in evolve or die like the publisher perish. I think that’s what we’re seeing now in this in this side of things, it’s evolve or die. And I think overall, in a way, to me, it’s a little bit heartening, because what I see as being a catalyst for this, is people are craving more intimate and authentic experiences, they want something that’s more centered on community, they want something that’s more centered on them. They want dialogue, not monologue, they want to have conversations and just not be talked at or too or sold, too, especially. And so I don’t know, I’m not really sure where it’s going to go. But I do think that so much has changed, and especially with the pandemic, and how we emerge from that, for better and for worse, and what fell by the wayside, and what was magnified, and especially the mindset surrounding this industry. There’s also, of course, just a massive faction of people who have no fucking interest in learning going to these things, they’re not going to buy new gear, they just want to go because it’s something that they might be able to write off and party and have fun and connect. And that’s something else entirely. So I think that contingent will continue forward. Because so many people are working, you know, multiple jobs, or 60 hours a week and have their partners and have their families and have their kids and have all of these responsibilities. And they get to like go, hey, you know, I’m going to better myself, when in reality bettering yourself is just getting smashed. And I support that wholeheartedly. I think I think that’s great. I think we all need to step away from the humdrum and routine and mundane elements of life and just fucking let loose in sort of tune into who we are at a base or level and primitive nature and things like that. So I think in that way, this will probably be kept afloat by that sort of sub faction or sub sect, or however you want to phrase it of people who are there just to fucking have fun, economics change, society changes, the political landscape changes. And so if things tighten up, there’s other ways to have fun that are more economically feasible, where you’re not in fucking Las Vegas, once again, paying $10 for a glass of water, or $45 for a Woodford, at the center bar from a bartender who has no fucking interest in even looking you in the eye restorer. So, to answer your question, I do I think, I think the the model as it has existed is dying. And the question is whether these entities and the powers that be will sort of operate from an agile standpoint, to see what’s changing and to actually be of service and accommodate that their people, their community, or if they’ll continue to lumber on as many corporate entities do, and just sort of fade into obscurity under the guise of whatever their mission statement, or fucking at those or whatever that might be. So it’s, it’s going to be sort of intriguing to watch, possibly in a slightly McCobb way, but time will tell one

Matt Stagliano 33:22
of the things that I saw a lot more of this year, and I don’t have the stats, it just felt like there were more Photowalks less seminars, that seminars that were free were so overlapped, that you had to pick and choose because there were so many other photowalk that you basically had one seminar in the morning, one seminar in the afternoon. I I’m making, you know, big, large general statements. But the fact is, I didn’t go to any of the Photowalks I didn’t want to spend the money, quite frankly, on 150 bucks, 250 bucks, whatever it was for an hour an hour and a half with with somebody, but I understand the appeal of small class situations. Now, where I think there’s room for brands is rather than having these photo walks or infused the photo walks, like I think Fuji did some photo walks straight from their booth. What you did with your workshop, at the end of the week was you know, bringing in lights from Nan light, and you know, styling from so trendy and having all of these different brands work at one workshop in cohesion was a great way to expose really interested parties to a brand to interact with it to really play with it, not so much in the show floor where you’re being pushed a coupon or QR code and just go learn more about a sheet just shuffled along. You know, I think if there’s that level of interaction, there’s room for more of that how Whatever the proliferation of the photo walks I feel is cannibalizing the crowd that is there to do other things and go to some of the seminars. And I feel like it’s just a little bit out of balance, if I’m paying to go to a trade show, and then for everything that I want to do at the trade show, I’ve got to pay more, the add on, it starts to, it starts to feel like someone’s hand is always in my pocket, right? Versus when I was going to portrait masters, you pay the premium for the ticket, and then you have access to everything and everybody kind of belong to the same things, you all experience it together. And that creates this incredible culture with WPP. I understand it’s 10 times 20 times the size of the old portrait masters, I understand that, you know, it’s a it’s a function of scale, what you can do, but it felt like there’s the people that go on photo walks, there’s the people that just go to the trade show, there’s the people that are there just to party, and it feels disjointed. From photography community standpoint. Yeah. growl, you step back a little bit. And you look at the Grand perspective. And it’s great to have all that creativity in one place. However, it just, I felt this year, very disjointed in my interactions with people. And I found that I was just gravitating towards my circle of friends. And even though I was trying to branch out and meet new people and network with different companies and vendors that had some great, great conversations, it felt a bit more scattered. So I don’t know if that is the introduction of portrait masters, lighting masters, the wedding masters, the icon awards, right, there was a lot that shifted this year. So inherently, there was going to be a little bit of chaos. But I don’t know for for my standpoint, and I’ve only gone for a couple of prior years. But having gone to trade shows in Vegas for the better part of a decade. This one felt a little bit scattered, not in a bad way. But just kind of like it’s it’s like that awkward teenage years. No WPPI has been around forever, but it just felt like there’s a shade out. And they don’t quite know where it’s going to shift to. So it’s on people like us to give feedback and say, Hey, here’s what worked and what didn’t work. Not in a bad way. It’s just, you know, constructive criticism. Very much. So I’m, I’m interested to hear over the next few weeks, kind of the fallout from other people. Yeah. That being said, there’s a handful of things that I saw there. That, I don’t know if it was the Mirage, if it was the caliber of photographers that are coming through. I don’t like to sit in judgment, but I saw really well. What I’m going through, I’m gonna climb right up on my throne. The fucking creepy guys with cameras really upset me. Yeah, I agree. It’s very, you know, and you’ve heard me talk about this before. There’s a certain type of photographer that is there to capture content, maybe they’re pro maybe they’re not. But their vibe that comes across where the model the subject is nothing but an inanimate object there for their pleasure. Yeah. And it got really weird. In some instances, I’d walked by a booth, not necessarily even in the shooting base wasn’t there. But you know, some brands bring in a model for lighting or for outfits or whatever. And there’s a woman meanie tattoo bottle, right? Yeah, he’s amazing, amazing personality. Tons of fun. Yeah. And I saw her working in one booth for a brand and forgive me, I just I don’t know the brand. Yet the amount of guys with cameras that just kind of descended. And we’re we’re literally shooting over shoulders and around and getting in angles and there’s no regard for who else is around. There’s no regard for the model in their comfort. There has no regard for what the images are going to look like there’s no intentionality. And I can’t I can’t think of a way to filter that out because it’s nothing but my perception. Yeah, of course, it seems to be that there’s a group of attendees that approach photography as I’m going to create content to get me followers from a certain creepy set of followers. Am I making sense of this? Like a complete douche nugget

Jonny Edward 39:58
but then Oh, no, I think I think you’re you’re absolutely accurate with that. And moreover, I think that’s probably the better side of that very disingenuous sort of ugly coin. Like if they were creating content to try and like get followers, there’s one thing, I think there were a lot of people who are just interested in having power over another person, and being able to objectify a person. So it goes to this idea of alright, I’m getting return on this, I still get the goosebumps. And it’s like, ooh, yuck. But I think there were a lot of people who weren’t even interested in taking it that far. It was purely like, alright, I can be in proximity to someone who I find sexy, or, well hold on one second, you’re going straight to voicemail. That’s why we should turn off our phones and we do podcast, I’ve gotten sort of into contentious conversations with fellow photographers over the course of time, let’s say the past half decade about this, but I do think that it’s beholden to us as a community as, you know, a conference, let’s say WPPI, or TPM, as individuals, as artists, as entrepreneurs, as human beings to safeguard those who are in vulnerable positions. And I feel like the ball is more often than not dropped in that regard, where you know, no one wants to ruffle any feathers. And it’s kind of like, Hey, keep people safe, but like, don’t rub someone the wrong way. And so no precedents are set, no boundaries are set, and it becomes sort of this, like, no holds barred type of thing. And that’s, that’s really unfortunate. Because if you get that archetype into an event like this, and they’re like, oh, yeah, I can go over and walk up to a model and be like, hey, that’s really nice. Can you like give me those like bedroom eyes, and they’re saying it with this voice, as they’re just clicking, and they’re not even paying attention to what we’re doing? We’re all very hyper aware of what that actually is. But no one’s going like, hey, like, let’s step back, because they don’t want to create tension. But then in the process of not creating tension, we’re just reinforcing these archetypes. We’re emboldening these people to carry on. And if they feel like, oh, I can do this in public, while I’m on display, while there’s a professional model, and a professional mentor and a professional booth, and professionals around me, that gives them wings to soar into whatever awful shit they do in their personal lives behind closed doors. And that’s something that we as a community have to take into consideration and say, like, what are we collectively going to do sure to make sure that people are safe and valued and respected. And there’s really not a lot of neuronal activity into that issue. Honestly, from the top down,

Matt Stagliano 42:27
we want to be polite, we want to give people the benefit of the doubt, we don’t want to create waves. If someone’s coming to our booth, right, and we get a weird vibe from them, we’re gonna let them do their thing and take off, and then acknowledge that it was a little bit weird and creepy, but not do anything about it. So it’s a strange thing to try to manage, being polite, and then also maintaining a standard of professionalism. So it was just something that I observed. I mean, as as the week goes on, I get more and more in my own head, as I witness more as I’m around more and more people. And I start to shut down and I look for ways to get out of the norm, right. I’ve already talked to most of my friends, I’ve seen them I’ve connected, it’s great. Now I’m just overloaded, there’s so much coming at me and I, I’m someone that needs quiet, I need just breathing room. And very rarely are you afforded that in the five, seven days that you’re at WPPI, because you’re always running back and forth to some, and whether it’s to just go back to your room to change your socks, or get a 37 I’m just going to keep increasing, increasing the price $37 bottle of water, or you know, I’ve got to get to this seminar, I want to go see this thing at this booth at three o’clock. What I find that I do is, I get very selfish, and I start cutting people off. And texting, hey, not gonna make it not gonna be there. Can’t do it, I need some time. Because I just want to sit down. Yeah. And the interesting thing is, we find especially those of us that have a large community of friends that are scattered all over the country. These are the moments where we have the chance to be together, right. And it’s not the same thing as being on a zoom like this. Or even in a workshop, you know, you have a finite time to see your friends. And you want to spend a lot of time with them. But it’s really not set up for that unless you’re in a shoe. Everything that you paid to go to Vegas for just go hang out with your friends, right? Very much so. So I found myself, you know, pulling away quite a bit and it was the times where I could have quiet or got invited to a bar by a friend and just went and had a drink or a meal and just sat one on one. Those were my favorite times of WPPI because it’s that real settle down connection, everything slows down. You don’t feel like you’re at this breakneck pace, and you don’t have 1000 people shouting around you. I found that towards the end of the week, I started doing more and more and more of that, and avoiding the big group dinners and the parties. And while it seems to be introverted, it’s more self protection. The else I just pretty much couldn’t handle any more. Any more conversations. And I think what I noticed is throughout the week, there were a lot of people like that just getting mentally worn out, not so much physically, but just mentally exhausted from doing all the things all week. Absolutely. You know, one of the things that I was looking forward to all week was your workshop. And I wanted to talk about that a little bit because you and Paulina Gwaltney got together and created this workshop, that was going to be a mix of your lighting teaching, and her styling education. And Nan light came through with what looked like an 18 Wheeler full of lights in every way, shape, and form. And let’s talk about the workshop a little bit, because I got to see it behind the scenes and then also participate in it. We’ll talk about what happened afterwards.

Jonny Edward 46:22
The the on the unseen veil lifted shit show on the back end,

Matt Stagliano 46:26
it wasn’t a shit show. It was it was surprising, surprising. turn of events. Yeah. But we haven’t had a chance to even kind of debrief since we workshop. So I want to hear what your thoughts on it work.

Jonny Edward 46:39
So for me, this is obviously I run workshops frequently here at my studio, which is where I’m at right now. And this is this is how you know, like I know this place inside. Now I know the gear that I have, I know the backdrops that I have I know models, I know creative teams, this is my safe space, because not only do I know the space, but if anything goes wrong, I have 17 contingency plans. It’s plan B, plan C Plan D Plan E plan app, so they’re stressed when I run it, but there’s really not because I know I can always fall back into another safety net or a broader safety net. So I challenged myself this year to say, hey, like I’m not going to be teaching at WPPI because they didn’t invite me to do that. But this is something that I really want to be able to do for myself and members of the community. Let’s put on a workshop that’s one day, and collaborating with Paulina because of course, like she has a skill set that’s beyond me, I’m really great at styling, that’s her domain of expertise. So I’m like we can put on something that’s one day that’s at a great studio that brings together people who are genuinely interested in learning in a more significant way than what they’re able to do at WPPI. And it gives me a chance to sort of flex my muscles as an educator and a mentor, and challenge myself to be like, alright, like, I have 14 hours of studio time to build a complete setup that pseudo nears my space and break it down, get it back out. And so I want it to get uncomfortable. I think that’s, you know, where we grow. And so part of it was like, All right, I kept questioning this and the days leading up to WPPI. And the weeks where I’m like, Am I making a really big fucking mistake with this? Like, is this just going to be a fucking complete debacle? And it wasn’t. And a big part of that is obviously people like you people like George who stayed and helped Paulina, of course, black box Studios, where we hosted it, they were fantastic and assisted on every level they possibly could. But it was manic. You know, I worked those show days. Firstly, what I know now is if I ever do this again, at a show, it will be the day before the show. And not the day after because I was so just scraped down to the bone that I feel really good about what I did. But looking back, I know that I would have not necessarily been better, but different, when more whole had identity at the beginning versus the end. So that was one of the biggest learning things for me. And for those of you who don’t know how these things work, I mean, we had a studio rental. That was the day after W PPI got off the floor at the last day of the show floor. We immediately went, Matt got parked out with boxes, we had Uber excels and bellhops and all of this gear was delivered. And it all had to be built out that evening when we’re all just literally running on fumes with the knowledge that that’s not even the thing. That’s just the preface to the thing. But overall I was I was really happy with how it turned out. You know, we were sold out at the workshop, the studio space turned out great. I feel like relative to circumstance and ability and opportunity, we really capitalize and did the best that we could possibly do. And I’m happy that a lot of people seem to have had a really wonderful experience. They felt challenged, they felt appreciated. They felt safe, to be who they were in those moments. And so I didn’t necessarily want to have a counterpoint to W PPI because I feel like that’s disparate jinked what the show actually was right. And that’s very relativistic. But I wanted something that is exactly what we’ve been talking about that was more focused on genuine connection that was more focused on intentionally creating that was more focused on connecting with ourselves in one another and with models that was just more focused on something that was, to me more whole and wholehearted. And to that end, I feel like it went really well. But I mean, I have my own legal pad full of notes going, Oh, I could have done this better. I could have educated better on this. I was so consumed and concerned with not only wanting to provide the best experience, but also wanting to address what I felt like were shortcomings of the conference. And that was, that’s a toxic trade I have and that’s something that I overburdened myself with. Because I’m like, I know, Johnny, you’re going to do this, and you were this educator, and Paulina is this, but I’m like, not only do you have to be who you are, but you have to get even bigger than that to make sure that the experience resonates for the experiences that weren’t had at WPPI at TPM, and that’s purely on me. But yeah, it was it was fucking chaotic. And it was fast, and it was a blur. And I still don’t know exactly what happened, but I’m pretty sure it was it seeing and I’ll probably have to continue to process for for weeks before that, that I gained some clarity on everything. Yeah, you

Matt Stagliano 51:20
know, from where I sat with it, in so far is helping with the setup, which, again, that black box studio was phenomenal, what whitespace what an amazing space they have, being able to get everything set up that actually went pretty pretty quickly. Because I think, you know, I know your setup style, and generally how you light right, so it was easy to get some of these things set up. And God knows Pauline have brought an entire studio worth of backdrops. Madness. So having all that the setup wasn’t that big of a thing. It was more gray, attaining the ideas and saying, We can do anything here, we’ve got to set it up in such a way that when the 12 students come through 10 or 12 students come through that there is some order to this chaos. Yeah. And I think everybody that rolled in was one blown away by the sheer volume of creativity that they could play with all these different bays that were set up and Paavo tubes and large lights and hard lights and projectors and just all of the toys, right? I think with it being you’d mentioned doing it before WPPI, not after, I think that I lend some credence to that because by about one o’clock, we all started at 830 or nine in the morning. And then by about one or two o’clock, you get to see the fumes, right and absolutely a couple more hours. And then as we started to get closer to the end of the day, and I realized that some of the bays weren’t being used, I’m like, let me start breaking down because I know we only have X amount of hours at the studio. I started breaking it down then I think the fortunate and unfortunate I think some people saw me doing that. And we’re like, oh God, thank God, the workshop is over because and I’m like, No, keep shooting. This is just me, like I got what I needed. You know, from a participant standpoint, it was amazing to be able to work directly with the models to be able to have an idea and craft your own thing and work with a model to create that, but then also have access to you and Polina and all the other students that were there. And I found that is the culture that that you lose at trade shows it’s it’s impossible to recreate in a large scale is that intimacy of creation between students right starting to brainstorm together? And what if we did this? And what if we did that? And then working the modeling, and what if we did that? And I think those are the things that are missing. Now, the workshop that you put on was phenomenal. I think the other thing that I saw you do in the week, which I don’t know how you pulled it off, I got to tell you is Kayla Doug was his VIP party. For those of you that don’t know Kayla Douglas and Rick Lewis, they have their wings. They have backdrops, they’ve got a bunch of stuff. They have

Jonny Edward 54:27
suite of offerings.

Matt Stagliano 54:29
And so they rented a house they had a ticket only attendance at this VIP event. And beautiful home off site. And every room, from the bathroom to the living room to the bedrooms to the everywhere outside. Everything was styled. I think it was like motion Stella limp everything. But you and Paulina came in like we went over early, a couple of hours before the party started and how had to get everything ready. And I don’t know what was going through your mind, as you were looking at these rooms and thinking, styling lighting, all I saw was Johnny’s zipping back and forth. from room to room, I was just sitting at a table having a cocktail, and I just saw you like a Tasmanian devil, what was going through your head to get this thing all set up.

Jonny Edward 55:21
So I wanted to create a relatively stress free, effortless way for people to come in and see beautiful styling, see beautiful environmental elements, see beautiful lighting, and then engage with that, right. And there’s so many moving parts to those of you who haven’t been involved in productions like this, when it’s done really well. It’s almost like magic, because you’re like, wow, that looks effortless, it is never fucking effortless. It is always very effortful. There is so much that goes into it in so many moving parts and the logistics and things invariably go wrong, because that’s life. And that’s just the nature of it. So I wanted people to come in and just be able to have a good time, and to relax and to connect and still do those modifications and things. But for it to be more of a like, Hey, I’m here I’m gonna have a beer or a glass of wine or a cocktail or too many edibles. So many people did, and, and just and have fun and create some semblance of diversity. But first and foremost, you know, when I was setting that up, it’s how I always operate like there were these models there. And they were being styled. And I’m like, I want them to feel like kings to feel like queens to feel like royalty. I want them to see me sweating, because that’s me giving to them. And they’re going to be giving the rest of the night to everyone else. So I wanted to start with that precedent that yeah, like I’m here and I am who I am. If you happen to know me if I have any cachet or notoriety in your mind, and I’m being of service to you, because you’re going to be of service to sell many. And I think sort of like W ppi and TPM people come in. And they have this really, I love it almost. And I don’t say naive in a negative way, at all. I think it’s beautiful and wonderful. It’s like a child, but this sort of naivety and they’re so excited to create that that intention, once again, falls by the wayside. And so as people started showing up, you know, they’re photographing these models because they’re stunning, and they’re beautifully styled. And it’s this beautiful space, but like, you know, the light is at sternum level. And they’re photographing, and I’m like, Hey, everyone, I’m like, I’m not trying to be rude. I love how excited you are. But like, let’s see what happens when we raise this above the eyes. Ooh, we can see cheekbones. Oh, there’s life in the eyes. Oh, this is flattering. You know, we’re not doing Frankenstein’s monster uplighting on this individual who’s they’re just unaware of what they look like or what they’re doing, who’s just operating on that professional sort of status quo wavelength. So I wanted to make sure that that everyone was being honored. And once again, that’s just me being an empath I take on too much. But it was the challenge, too. That’s one of the biggest reasons I went to W ppi and Saigonese things was like I wanted to some extent and not in the McCobb way feel like there was a gun to my head. And to say like this is go time, make something fucking magical make something wonderful. The pieces of this puzzle are here for you. All of the pieces are in place. Now. It’s your job puzzlemaster to put them all fucking together in a cohesive way that is resonant. That’s significant. That’s different. That’s a typical, that’s unexpected, you know. And of course, crazy shit happens we’re trying to set up Stella’s lights. And then we have power packs, that only supposed to support 60 Watts, but the lights are drying 120 watts. So every time they go over 50% they die. We have people kicking things over we have rooms that aren’t working, I’m trying to move these things this beautifully decorated, I’m going oh, this Boz is probably worth more than my life and everything that I owe and shakily moving it to the next thing. But it was just it for me it was it was about everyone being able to be there and staying focused and being present on themselves on one another on the models on colleagues and just to be able to be there without the stress, or the pressure or that that idea that I need to create something significant, because so much of that significance was sort of built in, so that they could just say, Oh, this is significant. So I can simply be in the present and do what it is I want to do without those other variables coming into that equation.

Matt Stagliano 59:15
You know, I looked at that workshop, not the workshop, the party. And I wondered a couple of things as I sat there and took it all in now I brought my camera with me but I I think I took more behind the scenes photos that I did of the mall. And there were a ton of models there and everything was just off the charts. Like this house was just insane. But I was wondering, for workshops like that, if you’re going to have a VIP party and I can I can’t imagine the expense of it. But would it be better because I’m always looking for ways to improve things then is having time slots of saying your ticket gets you from 630 to 730 or ticket gets you from 730 to 830. That way, it doesn’t feel as chaotic, as frantic with all these amazing photographers that are great in their own right, all kinds of shuffling and trying to work past each other, none of which are the type to be shooting over shoulders, and everybody’s super respectful. But at the same time, you get to a point where time is compressed, and you want to get all the things. So you start to have multiple photographers in the room saying I’m in it does become like that thing where you’re almost missing out on the action starts to build, and it feels rushed, it feels forced. So I’m wondering if there’s that secondarily, you know, is there a laminated Bill of Rights for photographers or rules of the road that we hand out at the front door, saying, here’s the deal. Here, as you know, the here’s how to be respectful. And I don’t mean this in a condescending way that I’m on high and no one else knows these rules. But just to reinforce it for workshops for you already, for all these places, so that you start to create a standard, that easier, that then trickles down to the tradeshow level and happens at the shooting base. So it’s Code of Conduct type of stuff, code of conduct is the word I was looking for, not not bill of rights, but the code of conduct. I just feel like that almost needs to be enforced at everything. Otherwise, we’re just entitling people to do that. Constant shooting, everybody gets the same shot. So no one is unique. No one actually has a voice. And I don’t know it, it by no means was a bad time. I’m not saying that at all. I think there are just ways that we can improve this. So there, the subtle undertone is that we raise everybody up to be a better creative, a better producer, a better helper, a better assistant, everything starts to raise up a little bit. Well,

Jonny Edward 1:02:10
I think what we deal with these events overtly, and I know that I’ve done this in my workshops, directly and indirectly, consciously and subconsciously, is there’s the double edged sword, sort of like the stiletto blade of people becoming so at ease and comfortable, that everything becomes friendly. Right. And so in that friendliness, we lose professional decorum. And then you take somewhere like Vegas, where things like booze and weed or whatever else are omnipresent. And you’ve had a couple of dose sack ease and you smoke the joint. And everyone’s ribbing, you and you feel really good. And so you go over and you’re just like you’ve been having a great talk with the model, and maybe you even had a drink with them. And then you’re like, oh, just move your leg this way. And instead of saying, Hey, do you mind if I touch you? It’s just an assumptive pneus. And there’s no maliciousness. And that nine times out of 10. But there isn’t a degree of familiarity, which I don’t necessarily think is healthy. Yeah. And so that goes back to that code of conduct to say, hey, we’re all here together, but we’re going to respect each other. We’re going to respect our colleagues, the models, production staff. And there’s a certain level of almost like old world politeness that needs to come with this where you’re like, even if I know you, I’m still going to ask if it’s okay, if I shoot alongside you, because that’s a basic courtesy. And if you say yes, I’m gonna go great. And if you say, No, I’m gonna go thank you for being honest with me. And I’m going to step back, no, that just blurs and then everyone’s trying to get everything and everyone’s exhausted, and everyone’s just a little whatever they are. So I agree with you, 110%. But this has to be something that is macro cosmic, because if you only are faced with that type of code of conduct, or whatever we want to call it in one specific instance, it’s so isolated, that it can’t possibly bleed. So this has to be a sort of industry wide effort to say, when we come together in mass, whether that’s a massive three, or 3000, these are the basic things that we do for ourselves and one another, to make sure that everyone is being respected, to make sure that we’re operating with a certain degree of professionalism, and to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe and at ease, because that’s how we all get the most out of it. And that’s definitely an uphill battle. But it’s one that we have to sort of step into. Because if we don’t know, and we’ll Yeah,

Matt Stagliano 1:04:19
the way that I’ve always looked at it is that if you’re not actively pressing the shutter button, meaning you’re not the one that’s shooting the model, right, they’re the subject, whoever it might be, then you immediately fall into the role of assistant and you’re looking around, hey, do you want me to change your lighting for you with this? Do you need more space? You know, what about this? I don’t see enough of that. It’s just people assume the identity of photographer. Yeah. And they, they don’t want to revert to being an assistant or, you know, a producer of some sort. And, you know, you’d mentioned you know, there’s a light pointed at a sternum, and there’s just a floating head up here somewhere. That’s that code of conduct right? Before you take a picture, take a look at what’s going on. It’s okay to change the lights. I think in some of these settings, people are so programmed that all right, it’s set up, therefore, it must be perfect. Already Johnny set it up. It must be perfect already. They don’t know that. You’re just like, yeah, just put a fucking light in there somewhere. They’ll fix it. Yeah, right. Yeah. And people aren’t taking that time to slow down, look at the situation and say either a is this what I want be that is what they want. Can we help? How do we create better, there are pros and cons with it. But it has to be something that does permeate the larger community. That’s the only way that the only way that happens is if people are talking about I think in the, in the quiet hallways, and in the dark corners. We all have this conversation where it’s so why not bring it to light? And how do we bring it to light?

Jonny Edward 1:05:54
Well, and I think I think another part of that, too, that sort of like to piggyback on that or run on those coattails is so often, if we look at the shooting Bay, sort of scenario, again, you know, you get two minutes, and most of the time, what it is, is there’s a placard on the wall, and it says alright, you’re gonna be an F 5.6 and ISO 201/200 of a second. And we suggest shooting this at 50 millimeter focal length. And these are the exact settings. So there is no room for experimentation. People are almost programmed into that programming to say like, alright, I operate on the wavelength I am told to operate on. And I think that itself is really damaging to the artists archetype, because then you don’t learn to critically think for yourself, you simply regurgitate based on what it is you are being forced fed. Now I understand there are massive logistical limitations. When you have 2000 people in a room and everyone’s trying to shoot, you can’t let everyone spend 10 minutes and do whatever they want, because it would be fucking complete chaos. But I do think that there is room to build in to say like, Hey, maybe you can’t move the light. But you could turn this light on or off sort of what I was trying to do, or maybe you know, you can turn the model this way, or here’s a piece of styling, you could add to or remove. And that way people have to be more active in the process of creation and thinking operate on a wavelength that is their own, rather than the common consensus of what is right or what is wrong. And like you said, I think that’s what happened at the VIP party. People were like, oh, you know, the stellar crew was great, they were going around and setting things up, they weren’t interested in designing lighting, they were like, Holy fuck, we need to get all 20 of these lights out. So the person who’s designing lighting can do what it is they need to do, which is the nature of production that I didn’t have a chance to get around, or Rick or whoever else. And so someone’s like, oh, there’s a light here and it’s on like, we’re good to go. Without going like, are we good to go though, and that’s simply because everything else they were exposed to or like when a white John, you shoot, when there’s a model there you shoot. It’s that simple and reductionist. And the problem is, I think people take that mindset back to their clients back to their art back to their studios, where where they look at things and then suddenly they’re at this stalwart place where they’re frozen, because they’re like, Well, what do I do? And that’s the artists fucking quandary is what do you do and why? And so as as conferences, as businesses, as educators and mentors, I think we need to do a better job of not just giving someone something, but explaining to them what it is we are giving them and why. And asking them to ask themselves if what is being given to them, serves them in the person in front of their camera or not, and then giving them at least a little bit of freedom to pivot or change. If the answer that to that question is not a definitive yes, it is.

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