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Julia & Gil: How to organize a successful photography workshop

Julia & Gil Photography Interview

A few weeks ago the Flothemes team went to Berlin. The wonderful occasion was the Im Loft Workshop organized by the talented Julia & Gil. Our founder, Ross Tanner, who is also a consultant for small businesses & international brands, focusing to improve their positioning, online conversion and growth models – was a speaker there. He and 9 other amazing creatives shared incredible stories, experience & recommendations, leaving us all inspired, motivated & ready for a new challenge. The ambiance and whole vibe of the workshop was so strong, evocative & inspiring, that we couldn’t resist but pick at the brains of Julia & Gil, the heroes behind Im Loft Workshops. If you plan to attend a workshop in Germany, or dream of organizing one –  read this.

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop, Berlin, photography workshop

Julia, Gil, congratulations on the second edition of the Workshops Im Loft! It’s a lot to organize, how do you feel right now?

When we are here, we’re looking at people’s faces and they are smiling. They are happy and are connecting with each other. There is no better feeling. This is the reason why we created the workshop in the first place. There are not many workshops like this in Germany, for wedding photographers. Especially workshops that bring international speakers along with German photographers and talk about wedding photography, fashion photography, lifestyle photography – offering a boost of inspiration to the German community. So seeing our attendees enjoying this, is the best thing we could imagine.

On the other side it’s of course a lot of work, it’s very stressful yet exciting times. We always say we never want to do it again – right before the event. But afterwards you feel so happy and fulfilled. It’s a good feeling to be part of a community and it’s very important to have a community. When we work together and share our experience, we grow faster. And this is the main idea behind the workshop.

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop

How is it different from last year’s workshop?

So normally, while you grow as a photographer you look at what surrounds you, which photographers are popular in your city or country, what they do. But it’s actually very important to look beyond your country borders. To consume and learn what people do worldwide in the wedding photography genre. When you do that you see new opportunities and aren’t as much influenced by those who surround you. What we mean is, if we just get inspired by wedding photographers from Germany we will most likely reproduce their work. That’s exactly what we changed in the second edition of Im Loft. We invited speakers from Barcelona, England, Croatia and other countries. We can differentiate ourselves from others through our choice of inspiration and our choice of who we learn from. And that was the idea of the second edition of Im Loft, that’s what we changed.

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop, Ross Tanner, flothemes

Do you think your participants see the same value in having international speakers at the workshop?

We love to attend workshops in different countries. We get such a boost of ideas, of what is possible, what you can do. It’s things that you don’t learn when you focus solely on the German market. Hence we try to educate other wedding photographers from Germany to differentiate themselves better by learning from people who are outside their region. This is the idea.

At the same time, organizing an event is a whole different market, no matter how good you are at wedding photography and bringing people together. There are a lot of stressful things coming with it. And the event is influenced by the flow, by how well people who attend connect with each other. Hence, we try to target a specific group. When you take a look at the attendees of the Im Loft workshop, they are all young, positive people, who are smiling, who want to learn and share what they’ve learned. We are reaching out to young photographers who are hungry for knowledge and inspiration, people who speak English in Germany. I think it’s very important what kind of attendees you target and get. Hence we try to attract the people who know how we think when it comes to wedding photography and being creative. This makes it easier to create a good event.

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop, Marko Marinkovic

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop, A & Y video, Carmen & Ingo

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop, Igor Demba

Who’s ideas was to integrate other types of photographers, like fashion, lifestyle, etc? Why do you think that’s a source of learning & inspiration?

It was Julia’s idea (both smiling). We are well connected in the wedding photography niche. We have many friends and colleagues that we check in with on a daily basis.  But we’re also very interested in consuming from other photography niches. We have many friends who do fashion, portrait, lifestyle, street photography. And we’ve learned a lot, a LOT about creative processes, about business, inspiration from these people – so we wanted to open this system for others. We wanted to share what we experienced by connecting with people from fashion, portrait and other types of photography and create a workshop around it.

Of course we are not the first who created this concept of workshop, but I think we are the first who created it in this specific style in Germany. There were no workshops like this here, and we needed to fly to Barcelona or Italy to attend one. So we thought why not create a workshop like this here? Since attending workshops has helped a lot our business, we thought that more people need this type of experience. So why not here in Germany?

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop interview

Will there be a third edition?

It depends totally on whether we can get the speakers that in our eyes are a good combination – as we want different types of views, different inspiration and different kind of niches.  If we can get the people we have in mind, there will be another Im Loft.

This year it was exactly the same. We hand in mind these 10 speakers, and we got all 10 of them. In our point of view it was the best mix that we could have gotten. Because we had Ross Tanner talking about business, pricing and website design; we had wedding photographers and videographers from different countries, 2 fashion photographers, a blogger, a lifestyle photographer and all this combined made sense for us to create an event. If we can get the same mixture again for next year we will do another event.

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop Ross Tanner

Do you think that being in the photography industry & doing more than just photography is a natural progression of this profession, and a good way to scale your business?

It’s a mistake many young photographers make, because they want it all right from the beginning. So they work on their profession of being a wedding photographer, they create videos, they’re organizing workshops, selling online courses and presets. But you need to be good at ONE thing first. The first years we just worked on our craft of being a wedding photographer. At one point we reached our goal. We are full time wedding photographers for a number of years now, we get inquiries, we get the clients we want and it’s all good. And when you are there, it feels like  “ok, what’s next?” And then we began to work on our workshop since we wanted to teach. It feels good and you get better and better at teaching and then you go again “ok, what’s next? what can we do?” So my point is that you need to finish things, you need to build one business before starting your next one. It’s like juggling. You first juggle with 2 hands, then you learn to juggle with one hand and now you have your other hand free to learn something different. I think that’s a good way to build different things, not just in wedding photography. It was always like this. 20 years ago wedding photographers had their own studio and they also developed film, they also sold cameras, they sold films, they photographed weddings and organized workshops. It was always like this.

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop

Final Note

Here you go, the challenging, yet rewarding experience of organizing a successful workshop. If you plan to remember just one thing from this interview, let it be this: learn to do one thing in a GREAT way, before jumping to your next challenge. This is the key to success in any type of business or industry. We wish much luck to Julia & Gil and if you’re around Germany, do get a ticket for Im Loft Workshop, it’s an extraordinary event.

 

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop, by Nadya Glo

Julia & Gil, Im Loft Workshop interview, by Nadya Glo

 

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