Orlando Wedding Photography Blog

By Kevin Graham

Last week, I attended the Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp by renowned wedding photographer, Cliff Mautner. The three day workshop was held at his studio in Haddonfield, New Jersey (right outside Philadelphia). Evolving and improving my skills as a wedding photographer has always been extremely important to me and attending this workshop was something I’ve wanted to do for many years. The fact that it was close to where I grew up was a bonus.

Cliff Mautner has been a professional photographer for over 33 years – recognized as one of the top wedding photographers in the world. His amazing wedding photos at some very iconic Philadelphia landmarks have always stood out to me. These are places I have driven past hundreds of times, which makes you stop noticing them. Seeing the way Cliff captures weddings there brings them into a new light.

In addition, Cliff’s dynamic presentations at Photoshop World made me want to travel from Orlando to learn directly from the source.

So far in my career as a wedding photographer, I’ve had some amazing opportunities – being a second shooter at an Orlando wedding with photo industry leader Scott Kelby, assisting legendary wedding photographer David Ziser at a Tampa wedding, and participating in insightful workshops and classes. However, this was by far the most immersive experience.

I wanted to review this workshop to share some of the things I learned and to help others who may be considering attending in the future.

The workshop was capped at 20 students which allowed for a much more personal discussion and hands-on experience. So, let me walk you through what we did each day and what I took away from it. During the workshop, I took several hundred photos – some of which you’ll find at the end of this post.

Welcome Reception

Technically the workshop began on Tuesday, but there was an informal welcome reception Monday night at Cliff’s studio. Admittedly, I was nervous as I arrived – photographers were coming in from around the world to learn from Cliff and I had no idea what to expect – but when his studio manager Heather greeted me, I immediately felt welcome.

Being the first one there gave me the chance to walk around the studio. It was a converted old church (how appropriate for a wedding photographer?)

After other attendees arrived, Cliff did some basic introductions and we all began to talk about wedding photography. Everyone shared stories and asked questions over the course of the next 2+ hours. Cliff made it clear that no questions were off limits, and over the next three days, he would do his best to teach us what he has learned in 33 years of photography.

Day One

Before the workshop, Cliff sent out an email letting us know the days would be long, but we would be fed well. He also told us what gear to bring – don’t just show up with your iPhone and a notepad. I chose to bring the equipment that I normally take to a portrait or engagement session. He also said we would be editing photos from the workshop, so I brought my laptop as well. As for the food, Tuesday’s breakfast was fantastic – eggs, bacon, pancakes, and better grits than I’ve ever had here in the south.

A large portion of the first day was supposed to be all about shooting in harsh bright sunlight. However, the weather forecast was calling for rain, so as wedding photographers often do, we adjusted our plans to accommodate Mother Nature.

We did some initial introductions, and I realized that I was in the company of some amazing fellow photographers. After some discussion about lighting and in-studio demonstrations, lunch arrived from a sandwich shop across the street. The meals didn’t stop the momentum, we kept trucking through the material.

After lunch, Cliff chartered a bus to take us to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. We had the ballroom to ourselves for over an hour and worked on wedding reception lighting techniques with models.

From there, we headed upstairs to two different bridal suites where Cliff showed us different approaches to photographing brides getting ready. Even though I already use some of the techniques that Cliff was demonstrating, I learned some new tips that I was able to practice and look forward to using at future weddings. I really enjoyed these hands-on portions of the workshop.

Back at the studio, the topic changed to the business of wedding photography. Cliff shared how he runs his business, from his philosophies on customer service to how he plans for the wedding day. Cliff stressed that as good as your photos are, customer service is equally important. Conversation continued, and we wrapped up the day around 9:30 p.m. (I told you this was immersive!)

Wedding Photography Workshop - Cliff Mautner Lighting and Skillset BootcampDay One in Cliff’s Studio.

Day Two

Wednesday morning started just like Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. We wrapped up the business discussion and started to discuss shooting in bright light. Early on in the workshop, I asked Cliff what he thought of photographing outdoors at high noon and he responded, “Bring it on!”

After lunch, we boarded the bus and headed to Center City Philadelphia to photograph brides and grooms in Washington Square Park. As the sun raced in and out of the clouds, we were able to shoot in a wide variety of outdoor lighting conditions and really work one-on-one with the models. I think at one point, I counted 10 models for 20 students. That really gave us the chance to take what we had been learning and put it in to practice.

Next up, City Hall. Directly below the William Penn statue was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever taken a photo. Cliff’s approach to photography is simple – find the light and put your subject in it. The City Hall archways create the most wonderful directional light, and I was so happy with the images I took there, it has definitely made me think differently. Quality of light is more important than the quantity of light.

We headed out to dinner at a great place called P.J. Whelihan’s, where I had some amazing wings. It gave us a much needed chance to relax and talk about everything we did.

After dinner, we went back to the studio and talked about marketing until close to 9:30. I have to admit that I was physically exhausted after this second day, yet I had trouble sleeping as my mind was racing with all of the information I had just learned. I can’t wait until the next wedding, where I can start to use so much of it.

Wedding Photography - City Hall - Philadelphia PennsylvaniaCliff showing us the importance of great light.

Day Three

Thursday was sadly the final day of the bootcamp. Cliff went through a mock client consultation, where students were able to ask him questions from the perspective of a client. Cliff would also provide critiques of the photos we took during the workshop. Insight from someone who has been in the business as long as Cliff is invaluable.

We headed upstairs after the reviews where Heather, Cliff’s studio manager, showed us how she edits the photos from a wedding. Heather did a fantastic job at explaining her workflow, an area that photographers are always looking to improve. Just like Cliff, she was very candid with what she showed us and answered everybody’s questions.

At this point, Cliff asked us again for any questions, and by this point, most of us were out of questions! Everything we wanted to learn and more, we learned over the three days. Cliff and Heather are incredibly warm individuals who put their all in to making you a better photographer. It’s no wonder that this bootcamp always sells out in record time.

It was one of the best business investments I’ve ever made – better than any lens or camera. The skills that I learned have already had an impact on my photography. The group of friends that I made is also invaluable – 19 wonderful, kind individuals from around the world who share my passion for photography.

Prior to the workshop, I set up a Facebook group for the attendees, so that we could do some basic introductions and figure out what to pack. After the workshop, the group has become a great resource for sharing information as we all advance our careers. Cliff even pokes in to the group from time to time to answer questions.

If you are still on the fence about signing up for this workshop – Sign Up! If you want more information, visit Cliff Mautner’s Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp website.

Amazing Photographers

Cliff Mautner Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp Attendees Bootcamp attendees – Photo courtesy of Heather Bilek

Lucia Cintra – Lucia Cintra Photography – Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer
Cristian Pop – Cristian Pop Photography – Chicago Wedding & Portrait Photographer
Krista Resnick – Krista Resnick Photography – Wisconsin Photographer
Cala Iverson – Cala Marie Photography – Senior Portrait Photographer from Twin Cities, Minnesota
Kelly O’Keefe – Kelly O’Keefe Photography – Photographer based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dana Chrysler – Bella Vita Creative – Mount Vernon, Washington Photographer
Jeanne Marie Viggiano – Jeannemarie Photography – Hawaii Wedding Photographer
Becky Koesel – Photographer from Texas.
Melissa VanLeeuwen – Simply Said Photography – Portrait and Wedding Photographer – Tillsonburg, Ontario Canada
Anna Nguyen – Zee Anna Photography – Wedding and Portrait Photographer based in Naples, Florida
Elaine Welbourn – Flashback Photography – Wedding and Portrait Photographer – Peterborough, Ontario Canada
John Pautienis – Photographer from Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Michael Duncan – Photographer from New Jersey
Linda Luczun – Linda Luczun Photography – Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer from Northern Virginia
Alex Porter – Wedding Photographer from Queensberry, Australia
Alena Hagedorn – Both Brides Both Grooms – Ohio Wedding Photographer
Michael Wright – Michael Wright Photography – Boca Raton Portrait & Wedding Photographer
Frank Donnino – Frank Donnino Photography – South Florida Wedding Photographer
Chris Chapman – Chris & Hannah – Surrey England Wedding Photographer

Below are just a sample of the photos I took over the course of three days:
Bridal Portrait - Wedding Photography - Cliff Mautner Workshop
Wedding Photography Workshop - Crown Plaza in Cherry Hill New Jersey
Cherry Hill New Jersey Wedding Photography
Portrait of Bride at Wedding Photography Workshop
Our Groom Sammy in Washington Square Park in Philadelphia
Cliff Mautner Workshop in Philadelphia, PA
Wedding Photography in Washingotn Square Park
Philadelphia Wedding Photography - Washington Square Park
Wedding Photography - Washington Square Park in Philadelphia
Bride and Groom on a Park Bench - Wedding Photography in Philadelphia
Wedding Photography Workshop - Cliff Mautner Lighting and Skillset Bootcamp
Photography Workshop by Philadelphia Wedding Photographer Cliff Mautner
Photo of a Bride and Groom in a Park

City Hall in Philadelphia PennsylvaniaCity Hall in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Philadelphia City Hall - Wedding Photographer
Finding the Light at Philadelphia City Hall
Wedding Photography by Orlando Wedding Photographer DSWfoto
Our model Alex in City Hall in Philadelphia

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