This seven day workshop brought Sage Lewis, who runs SageRock Digital Marketing Agency, to Louisiana to embark on the difficult task of documenting a catastrophe that was difficult to gain access to. I coached Sage in everything that is required of a photographer when documenting in these difficult situations. From embarking on a story with few leads and very little solid information to finishing one week later with exceptional photo stories showing the severity of this spill.
I taught Sage how to work with military and government officials in order to gain access to locations that were off limits to many. We worked closely with the US Coast Guard and the Department of Fish and Wildlife on a daily basis, visiting locations such as a bird rescue and rehabilitation center, oil soaked marshlands and seas, local villages and peoples affected by the spill, relief operations, clean-up operations and environmental research being conducted by scientists.
We were able to cover a massive amount of ground and subject matter, producing photo essays that showed sides to this disaster seen and captured by very few, including large publications and media outlets.What my student had to say about the workshop:
"I just completed my week-long workshop with Zoriah exploring the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. To give you a point of reference, I’m a father, husband, small business owner and (once upon a time) a cellist - that’s what I went to college for. I’m 38.
For the last several years I have been getting progressively more interested in my personal amateur photography. I have been taking pictures, off and on, since high school. My kid, Indiana, is currently 5. His presence in my life has made me want to be a better photographer. I feel that these years are very special for all of us in our family. They will happen once and then be gone. I would like to capture them to the best of my ability.
You should also know that I have had the good fortune of studying with some great teachers, in my music pursuits. I’ve studied with principal cellists from major orchestras. I’ve studied at some of the premier music academies. And I’ve also studied with one of the greatest cellists of our time... I know what a good teacher is.
I tell you all this because I believe my one week workshop with Zoriah will probably go down as one of the greatest learning moments in my life. I believe the depth and quality of my life has grown significantly by having this week experience with Zoriah.
When you participate in Zoriah’s photography workshop you are getting a complete immersion program in learning all the ins and outs of photojournalism. Zoriah would often tell me that each workshop he has done is very different from the next. I’m quite sure that’s true because Zoriah takes such great concern to understand your goals for the workshop. He is incredibly sensitive in making sure you get as much as you possibly can.
On top of being one of the great photojournalists he is also a great teacher. He would often ask me if I had any questions or how I felt the workshop was going. He wanted to make sure I was getting exactly what I wanted out of it. He was very patient and thoughtful of my particular learning style.
The effort he puts into these workshops is Herculean. In my case, he drove a minimum of 4 hours every day getting us in and out of where all the action was. We had to do this because this disaster was happening in several hard-to-get-to destinations. Zoriah put in a minimum of 12 hour days... with the last day requiring us to get up at 3:00am to catch a boat to photograph oil soaked marshlands for 7 hours and then driving 2 hours back to our hotel.. (I should say, he is also always pleasant to be around. He is kind and courteous every single minute.)
When you participate in Zoriah’s photography workshop you are getting a one-on-one, highly customized experience. He can, and has, worked with professional photographers as well as working with amateurs like me. I was concerned I might be getting in over my head. But he always made me feel comfortable.
Off the top of my head, some of the bigger things I got from the workshop were:
1.) Gaining access to the military and officials in charge of a disaster.
2.) Where and when to look for the best potential pictures.
3.) How to go about getting a great picture.
4.) Great editing techniques and secrets of the photojournalism trade.
5.) A huge resource of videos and written material.
In my workshop I got to see very clearly reporters and journalists not doing the process well... and how a serious, hardened professional like Zoriah did things right. (It was literally shocking to see the mistakes other professionals were making as Zoriah effortlessly (or so it looked on the outside) glided through gaining access to the best stories and pictures to be had at my particular workshop.
After this workshop I feel like I have the tools to create pictures that look professional. And I also know how to chase down a story. I’m already planning my next photojournalism assignment. Zoriah also has a lot of experience and information on how to make this a career. This workshop would definitely be highly valuable for a person looking to get into the photojournalism profession. That didn’t happen to be the goal for my case.
If you want your pictures, and your photographic storytelling, to get significantly better incredibly quickly, please consider Zoriah’s photography workshop. I promise you will be so thankful you did. If you want to talk to me more about my experiences and thoughts on the workshop feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to talk to you about it.
Thanks Zoriah... for an experience of a lifetime!"