ULTRAMABRATED {Jeff Newsom Workshop review}

Having just gotten back from Jeff Newsom‘s very first workshop held in San Luis Obispo, CA, I pleased to say his learning experience was a mind-blowing and turning point in our business & art & life.

I have now been ULTRAMABRATED. And it was awesome. Proof: here.

The voltron of awesomeness is a genius. He’s the real deal. Jeff’s genius stems from his voltron of awesomness (If you remember the 1980s, those 5 technical cats turned into the Voltron). He’s got awesome creative guts, awesome computer skills, awesome Photoshop practice, and awesome photography genius.

While he may not write in complete sentences on his blog, this guy knows how to optimize RAID storage with 64-bit processors in his sleep, could color-calibrate a monitor while blindfolded, has some of the chillest personalities around, and knows how to connect with people in a genuine way… without trying too hard.

Photographers, if you are considering attending his workshop, just do it. He was well-organized, patient, and articulate in answering the hundreds of questions thrown at him — ranging from technical to artistic vision to business. He spoke candidly about his philosophy, shared his prints, packaging, albums, workflow, and workflow tricks. More importantly, Jeff highlighted the importance art plays in his work and how it shapes his business.jeff_newsom_ultramageddon_workshop_images1.jpg
Photo by numbers: 1. Jeff Newsom, 2. Awesome visuals of learning 3. My notebook with about 10 dozen pages of notes. And there to heaps of awesome photographers there.jeff_newsom_ultramageddon_workshop_images3.jpg

Jeff was an open book the entire workshop. He lead us through a typical shoot with one of his awesome wedding clients… in the rain.

Without going into great detail (not giving that away for free), I would like to share some of the special things I learned from Newsom-isms:

1. “If I wrote a book, It would be called ‘The 80-hour work week.”

I laughed when Jeff said this, in reference to Cameron Ingalls gifting him the Tim Ferris book, “The 4-hour Work Week, “Jeff believes in working hard, not nickling & diming his clients, and over delivering in a big way. He doesn’t outsource so he has complete artistic control from start to finish.

2. “I’m the world’s worst business person. I’m just lucky.”

Jeff Newsom shared some of his business practices about being an artist. Jeff has never been to a Photographer workshop before. He dropped out of Cal Poly after 6 hours. Yet, he finds himself in the right place at the right time all too often. How? By being open to what is around the corner, and being chill, and kicking stress down, Chuck Norris style. And he hates Canon flashes.

3. “Weddings are 90% people skills.”

Weddings brought out a social side of Jeff which clients love… but it wasn’t without lots of awkward moments, he admits. Rolling with the flow is how Jeff perfers it, especially when it comes to bridal preparations and family formals.

4. “I would love to shoot 70 weddings a year.”

The sole purpose of his website is to filter out “people who don’t get it”. They have to navigate through it to see what he is all about before they contact him. While he gets about 1500 requests for weddings per year, he’s happy to shoot 70 weddings per year and fears no burnout…. a number which many wedding photographers wouldn’t fathom. Jeff meets about 2 clients per year in person before booking and rarely meets clients in an home, studio, or coffee shop.

5. “If I’m not proud of it, clients don’t see it.”

Jeff remains selective about the images he shares with clients. Jeff is a one-man band. He outsources nothing, except for printing via ProDPI. That includes editing, post-production, you name it. He never relies on a second shooter, but does loves the company of having a second person along, just to have them along.

6. “You set it up, and I’ll shoot it.”

In response to a groomsmen request to shoot the guys jumping simultaneously. He’ll shoot it, just as long as they remember to make it happen. In evitably, it doesn’t happen. Thank goodness. But acknowledging the request is the most important and he’s happy to go the extra effort if it means his clients are happy.

7.”It doesn’t matter where we shoot.”

Rarely will there be a plan for choosing a shooting location, just as long as the light is good. This goes for engagement sessions and choosing where the line up the formals on the wedding day.

8. “Your clients feed off your confidence.”

Awkward clients, be not afraid. Photographers: if you overexposed the last 30 shots, don’t fret. Just keep up the momentum and clients won’t notice. Just don’t freak out when you look at the back of the camera and a white screen.

9. “I’m shooting art for the both of us.”

Jeff observed photography industry is sharply divided between two camps, defined by purpose: Art vs. Buisness. He is an successful artist first and a business person later. The later is more important to Jeff for reasons he can only explain. Jeff’s portrait art drives him at every wedding. While many photographers are after the high-end bride, or scaling their business so they actually have to work less and make more money, Jeff is all about shooting more weddings, spending more time with awesome people, and in the end, all about improving his art. Jeff’s clients are the subject of his artwork and he makes not qualms about it. While Jeff is a natural photojournalist, it is his artistic portraits which he loves create and share on his blog.

10. “My sense of humor is internal.”

If you follow Jeff on Twitter or facebook, you might wonder the context of what he’s saying… often he’s generally laughing at himself when posting.

11. “When I edit photos, I edit the way I remember.”

With an emphasis on feeling, Jeff is a master at Photoshop, even though he rarely uses it in his photography post-production workflow. His magic sauce? Adobe Lightroom.

12. “If I see an awkward photo, it’s because of the hands.”

Posing hands naturally is super important to Jeff and he makes certain hand gestures don’t detract. Even just the slightest gesture of picking up the dress or wrinkling a pant leg does wonders for eye.

As for Gold records, that’s the only secret he won’t share.  But he got his LED lightpanel uses for his light-paintings here.

Here’s Jeff’s awesome class photo:jeff_newsom_ultramageddon_workshop_images5.jpg

12 Responses to “ULTRAMABRATED {Jeff Newsom Workshop review}”

  1. Alisa — January 25, 2010 @ 9:31 pm (#)

    That was awesome, RJ – thanks so much for the detailed recap – made me happy to remember and relive it all!

    (i’m the girl in the teal rain jacket above) 🙂

  2. Steve Stanton — January 25, 2010 @ 11:49 pm (#)

    Awesome stuff RJ. I’m a little jealous Alec and I didn’t end up heading out to CA for Newsom’s workshop vs our Nashville bust. Glad to know there are artists out there that still put art first.

  3. alec vanderboom — January 26, 2010 @ 12:28 am (#)

    now now steve. it was more of a nashville explosion than a bust. hah. RJ- love the stuff man. and I completely agree with ole stan sauce. a reunion of the 3 titans. or something like that. oh, and in your notes it says: “Better touch tool” > I am now using that on my mac with my mighty mouse and track pad thanks to you and it is freakin awesome. thanks jeff newsom.

    That’s too bad about the gold records. Im sure you’ll figure it out soon enough.

  4. briana elledge — January 26, 2010 @ 10:07 am (#)

    dude! that is so awesome you went to his workshop, my head would be exploding right now. cant wait to see what you do with your new knowledge! bring it! (not so much a suggestion sir) =)

  5. Rick Fernandez — January 26, 2010 @ 12:06 pm (#)

    Phenomenal job RJ! Way to go on the recap, pics and quick post. Thanks, catcha later!

  6. Brandi — January 27, 2010 @ 5:49 pm (#)

    Thanks for sharing. Jeff Newsom is one person I would consider shelling out money for a workshop from.. and I generally turn my nose up at most of them. I love the points you’ve shared.

  7. Gino Siller Photography — January 28, 2010 @ 12:38 am (#)

    Thanks for taking such great notes as always. Seems to have a very relaxed way of thing of things, just the way I like it.

  8. gabriel.ryan. — January 28, 2010 @ 3:27 pm (#)

    rj! you rule!! and you are officially dubbed the workshop secretary for journaling the whole experience so extensively. thanks for adding so much to an already-incredible experience 🙂


  9. Will Duris — February 3, 2010 @ 3:53 pm (#)

    that is really cool, I got a chance to meet Jeff at the Mammothman party in Park City back in 2009.

  10. Zachary Stowasser — November 24, 2010 @ 11:55 pm (#)

    I live in the same area as jeff and he is definitely an inspiration. I am a wedding videographer but I’m very inspired by what some photographers are doing – it influences my art as well. It’s all about motion pictures to me.

    Thanks for posting your review, some solid gold advice in there.. thanks

  11. Wedding Photography DC — June 27, 2012 @ 8:08 pm (#)

    Thank you for good article! It my be possible to see some of your videos ? 🙂

  12. 3B Photography — August 1, 2013 @ 10:41 am (#)

    As for the Gold Records

    It’s basic light painting. Google “Trick Photography and special effects edition 2).

    It’s all very basic tricks, nothing special.. I’m almost guaranteed Jeff read this book.

    You can find the e-book online for free or once you know what you want to do, Youtube has hundreds of tutorials on how to do them.

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