Amanda Holloway - the Kitchen Sink Workshop Experience
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Sunday, May 27, 2012
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I've tried to write this post a zillion times. Rehearsed it in my head. Written a pad full of notes. No matter what, I've come to the conclusion that it is impossible for me to write this without emotion. I sat in silence for so many months. Fearful to write the truth (because I've witnessed retaliation). As time has gone by I've realized two things. First, it's not right for me to make snarky comments unless I plan to back them up with the full story. Second, unless we encourage one another to speak up, I feel we bare a bit of responsibility toward our peers. I would be upset if someone I knew had a rotten experience and allowed me to make that same investment without any warning I might not get any return.

My story is nothing out of the ordinary. I was naive enough to invest a great deal of time and energy into a person who I believed had the talent and had found the recipe for success. Many will perceive me as a fool for allowing this, my only defense is I go through life trying to see the best in people...I suppose to a fault.

 

Backstory:

In February-March 2011, I stumbled on a Texas photographer, Amanda Holloway Photography. Every area I was struggling with, she seemed to have mastered. Her style was consistent. Only shooting what she really loved. Touting average sales of $4000 per session (for high school seniors). Amanda had the Kool-aid and I was dying of thirst. I finally approached her in April 2011 about a 1:1 mentoring. She was already offering her Kitchen Sink Workshop, but I wanted more. I needed someone to sit down with me and work specifically on MY business. Creating a successful business model was my priority, followed by posing and editing. I agreed to pay her $750 and we scheduled our weekend for late August 2011.

May 2011, I found myself struggling with editing workflow. I liked my work, but my formula for the finished product was weak. Editing was eating up my time. I emailed Amanda and paid her to help streamline my workflow. The following month I drove from Houston to Huntsville to meet at her home. She made some fundamental improvements to my editing flow. Amanda really helped me see how over-focused I was in details that would never appear in print. For that, I will be forever grateful. We ended up going to dinner and chatting the evening away. There were a lot of similarities in our backgrounds and we seemed to form an instant connection.

A week or two later Amanda told me she wanted to work on a posing guide for photographers and sent me her first few pages to critique. My thoughts were it was too basic and looked exactly like every other guide that was offered in the market. I printed what was sent, made some recommendations and it eventually became the PurPOSE Senior Posing Guide. What most people don't know is that guide was co-authored by me. I spent the next few weeks making several trips to her house and working on the guide. Endless hours of editing. Developing the concept of teaching it in a 3 step process to help photographers break down and memorize the steps of each pose. Hours of phone calls. Hours on Skype. An enormous amount of time and energy on a project that would eventually earn Amanda over 25K (last update I received was 09/11).

*Disclaimer: I never asked Amanda for any form of compensation for my participation in her guide. Sadly, she never credited my role, nor did she offer a proper thank you.

As our friendship developed, I witnessed some personal attacks on Amanda's character and business ethics. I always rushed to her defense. Friends look out for one another and at the time, I saw nothing that would lead me to believe the allegations were factual. Women are notorious for being catty. I interpreted the accusations as acts of jealousy. Amanda had suddenly become a "Rockstar" with incredible talent and she was reaping the financial rewards. People were both curious and skeptical. There were so many warning signs I chose not to see. Constant cries of 'people are trying to ruin me' and other claims of so-called 'bullying.' Where there is smoke, there is fire...those words were never so true.

The admins at Clickin Moms began to question Amanda's rise to fame. On July 8th, Clickin Moms wanted to know if the content of her teachings were original or if she had simply ripped them off from two photographers (Tara Staton McGovern and Amii Wrobleski). It was awfully coincidental that she had just attended their workshops and had suddenly set up shop to now teach her own. Plus, she had been in business LESS than one year and it appeared that her income was being derived from teaching...not actual paying clients. Amanda did provide Clickin Moms with an Excel spreadsheet to try and validate her business. Not long after this Amanda disappeared from the forum. I don't know if she left, was asked to leave or if this had any connection to their initial inquiry.

*I don't know if Tara or Amii ever formally complained to the admins. To my knowledge, neither photographer has ever spoken publicly of their grievances (if there are any). I know recently, Amanda addressed a private Facebook group and told them Amii knew Amanda had plans to teach and gave her blessings.

Over the summer of 2011, we shot together a few times. Typically, on the second day of Amanda's mentoring she has several models lined up to shoot. She invited me to come up. While she was instructing the student, I would take the model not being utilized and snap a few images for my portfolio. It was nice to shoot purely for fun and creativity...something I hadn't really done before. (I highly recommend it!)

 

Mentoring Weekend:

August finally came and it was time for our mentoring. Generally Friday evenings is a meet & greet. Obviously since we knew each other, this wasn't necessary. Honestly, I didn't have the extra funds to just blow on a room I didn't really need. Amanda told me to come up and stay in her room. I agreed if she would let me buy dinner and the movie. Amanda had wanted to do a ballet/dance theme shoot with my daughter and said my weekend would be the perfect time to do it. I wish I had thought it through more, because it was an awful idea. Part of her mentoring/workshop is she guarantees images to use in your portfolio. When she does a model call, the models agree to pay for their own hair/make up. This meant I would be the one footing the expense...duh. It also meant my husband would have to bring our daughter to me 100 miles each way.

The morning should have started with getting down to business. Instead, Amanda handed me a few questionnaires (apparently she emails them ahead of time to be completed before teaching) and told me to look through them and see what I didn't already know the answers to and we'd discuss it. Huh? Well, I guess since a large part of my original thoughts and writing were used in her Kitchen Sink Workbook, she didn't think I needed any training. For me, I am an over-thinker. I will think something to death before I will make a move. I'm sure it's fear of failure, but it paralyzes me quite often. As I started reading the questions to engage the discussion she grabbed her laptop to start reading Facebook and emails. Very frustrating. While I certainly didn't expect business talk 24/7, I was paying her to TEACH. I had been waiting all summer to talk about MY business. MY expectations. MY needs. MY goals. NONE of it seemed to matter and without a doubt, I was hurt. Before I knew it we were leaving to grab lunch and wait for my family to arrive.

We picked up the family and headed to shoot at Sam Houston State University. Their dance studio has gorgeous natural lighting to work with...I was pretty stoked. We got set up and ready to go. Amanda wanted to go first...getting her settings, positioning, ect. Sure, no problem. I knew this was how she worked. But then it led to moving her here and there. I was struggling to grab a shot. What is wrong with this picture? This is MY training. This was MY kid and I couldn't even get a picture! I reached the point of exploding and decided I needed to recompose my thoughts. I set my camera on the ground and walked away. When Amanda decided to change lenses, I seized the moment to get my own shots. Unfortunately, for a dancer who is newly on point shoes, the pain on your feet can be quite excruciating. I could see the grimace on my daughter's face and the welling up of tears in her eyes. I couldn't ask her to continue to stand there.

We took a short break to change clothes. During that time I told Amanda I needed more instruction. She was irritated and reminded me to use the posing guide. Well, I know how to break down poses...I NEEDED her to get outside of her head. To think out loud. To tell me what is going through her mind as she moves from pose to pose. I told Amanda for months that while I totally grasped the mechanics, there was no fluidity. She made it seem so easy. Teaching is a huge responsibility. Not only do you need to have the technical aspects, but you must be able to articulate the information to your students. This was important and she failed. She failed in a huge way. You should never ever ever have to FIGHT a teacher to get time with a model. They are supposed to be the expert. They have a complete portfolio. We finished and went to dinner. After filling my tummy and having my husband to encourage me, I was ready to have a heart to heart.

Amanda and I went back to the room. Since we had already covered editing in June there was no need to discuss it again, we worked independently the rest of the evening. We talked a bit, I AGAIN reminded her that I needed her instruction on posing and she agreed. Ok, great. Tomorrow is going to be fantastic. Not really.

Sunday morning came. We discussed pricing. Admittedly, I'm a numbers geek. I totally dig Excel spreadsheets. I have my own system of crunching numbers and wanted to compare it to hers. Her collections are heavily discounted which means she needs to inflate her a la cart numbers. No problem. Plenty of people do it this way. It's not for me and I wanted to discuss how to create a slightly different pricing model. My opinion is that you have to BELIEVE in the structure you adopt in order to effectively sell it. Maybe that's just me. As I began to show her my numbers, she became frustrated. "Just do it like mine." If you can't explain to me why you do it that way, why would I follow your lead? This my friends is a HUGE red flag. Beginners should not be teaching beginners. When you seek education that profoundly impacts the success/failure of your business, go in search of someone with TRIED and TRUE methods. You need to hear how their pricing evolved. What worked and what didn't. It's been said a zillion times that you shouldn't price yourself a certain way just because your competitor does it. So wouldn't the same hold true with a teacher's model? You HAVE to know (and see proof) that their advice is sound and will work. Finding out that Amanda only had TWO sales sessions using her pricing model was crushing. I was devastated that everything people had been criticizing her for was 100% accurate. I trusted her. I believed in her. I enjoyed watching her succeed and be rewarded for her hard work.

We shot two models Sunday afternoon. Again, very little instruction or input. More of the disappointment. The shoot could not have ended fast enough. All I wanted was to go home to the comfort of my family and clear my head. Amanda knew I was upset, but she has this way of making you feel like it's your fault. Always the victim, never the villain. I ran through the details over and over and came up with the same conclusion...she had failed me. Period. A few days passed with me ignoring her calls, texts and emails. Amanda even called my husband. He told her it would be best to give me some space and I would come to her when I calmed down. We finally talked, she agreed that she had let me down and wanted to schedule a shoot. This time she would NOT bring her camera so it would force her to instruct and think out loud. Ok, fine. I figured if she was going to teach this was imperative to the success of her students.

 

Workshop Weekend:

During the summer I had agreed to help Amanda (and I was paid) with her September Kitchen Sink Workshop. At this point, I had already contributed greatly to the production of her Kitchen Sink Workbook. More countless hours spent on her business endeavors. Again, my own fault. I allowed the friendship to continue to be one sided. I had allowed her to continue to use me. My role was mostly that of gopher. Helping the lesser experienced people keep up and grasping the material. Mostly, I was there as a cheerleader and encourager. By this time, I was so mentally drained, I should have just made an exit and washed my hands. But I had already formed some friendships and was excited to put faces to names. I was so on edge there were a number of times Amanda and I had disagreements. I was snippy and bratty with her...and then my hard drive crashed, which in my mind was a HUGE sign I shouldn't have been there in the first place.

One of the participants had a panic attack the night of the meet and greet. Sometimes when you're on the brink of a breakthrough you have a setback. I think this was her case. She treated her so poorly. I was instructed to go tend to the student's needs because Amanda 'isn't the nurturing type and couldn't deal with her.' Ok. I'll agree the whole event felt a bit dramatic, but talking about her, making fun of her and ignoring her wasn't going to solve anything. While I would not expect Amanda to spend a lot of time trying to ease her worries, a little compassion to encourage her would have gone a long way. 

That weekend made it easy for me to exit our friendship. Listening to her tell students the entire story about how the admins at Clickin Moms were unfairly treating her. Rallying them to all go and report what an awesome weekend they had to prove she was legit. Showering select participants with extra attention in hopes to further her career. Amanda wanted to expand her audience to other forums and by being extra nice to prominent members (and admins/owners) she improved her chances of teaching some of their online workshops. At one point she even began to BCC one of the admins from the Bloom Forum on some of her correspondence  with the admins of Clickin Moms. Slick business move to make the Bloom admin feel like her new BFF. Well played, I'll admit it.

I think the slimiest thing I witnessed was reviewing other photographer's work. Trashing her direct competitor. Accusing her of copying all of her locations, poses, and other untruths. Not a good use of to those paying you to teach. Amanda has her own beautiful talent. Why care about what others are doing when you are offering something so different. Energy spent dwelling on criticizing what everyone else is doing is wasted. Invest the effort into furthering your own business endeavors.

 

Summary:

Pros:

  • Amanda is excellent at streamlining editing workflow.
  • The workshop environment is contagious. You walk away with new friendships and an overall feeling of invigoration toward your business.
  • The Kitchen Sink Workshop book is quite thorough. Nice not having to feverishly write notes and you can reflect on the contents once you settle back into your daily routine.
  • The hotel is nice and the conference room provides a private atmosphere to learn in.

 

Cons:

  • The training is advertised as those looking to take their business to the next level. Honestly, if you've been around for more than a year, then a good portion of the instruction is material you've likely heard before.
  • Pricing strategy really isn't useful if it hasn't had time to be tested. A few successful orders doesn't qualify as tested in my opinion. Strutting around claiming $4000 sales feels reckless. Are there people in the industry doing it? You bet there are. BUT statistically speaking, I believe it's more of an exception rather than a rule. For newer photographers, it can potentially set them up for frustration. Particularly when they follow teachings to the letter and then don't reap the same/similar sales results.
  • Marketing. Again, you've probably heard what she has to say. The material feels tainted considering her marketing objectives revolve around networking with other photographers, not growing a client base.
  • Professionalism was virtually non-existent. Perhaps I hold educators to a higher standard that isn't reasonable? I've attended many other workshops and have never once witnessed the open bashing of their peers. How you carry yourself in public speaks volumes to me. Involving people in your personal/professional drama will not make people like you more. Just be yourself.
  • Posing. Forget it unless Amanda learns to think out loud and articulate her methods. I honestly believe she could accomplish this if she wasn't putting her needs before those of her students. There were often times when attendees would have their shot all lined up and Amanda would (literally) jump in the way to get her own shot, ruining the moment.

 

I feel strongly that I communicated my unhappiness with my Amanda Holloway experience. After being told explicitly I felt ripped off, I think a refund should have been offered. Unfortunately, she was not in agreement. I openly admit to giving her a rather nasty piece of my mind. Some deserved, some better left unsaid. I'm human. Being subdued has never been my strong suit.

Leave a comment:
32 Comments
Rodrigo Carino - wow! I just read your article and to be honest that is exactly how I felt when I attended the Seniors ignite workshop last year. I was impress how many people attended and to be honest it was very difficult for the mentors to teach. they told us that the teachers where not there to take photos but to instruct us in every way. completely false! the mentors took their fancy equipment and helpers and where taking their own photos. After the first day I was really disappointed and felt guilty to borrow money so I could attend. The other days where we got to be in groups in our own classrooms, was a completely disaster. everybody was asking questions left in right with no organization whatsoever. Amanda was not giving any insights of her success but instead she was talking how great she was. on the last day amanda talk about her success but did not share any tips or training but encourage everybody to get into her sink workshop. I was devastated to know that I spent four days and left with only a bag of "do it yourself" fill in the blank sheets. Thank god I found your article. I should be doing more research on choosing workshops.
Krystal - Thank you for posting this. i was considering taking the kitchen sink workshop and will not do that now. I had read some negative things online prior to reading your post and something just didn't feel right about the workshop. I am not hating on her. She has found a way to make money from teaching. I have looked up most of the kitchen sink alumni and none of them seem to have been as successful as AH claims the workshop will teach. sure its up to them. I think the real issue here is that AH hasn't been in the business long and like you said has just ripped off other photographers to find her way into teaching others. not a bad idea, but i just have more respect for photographers who are open and really care and want to help other photographers. Jasmine star is a great example of this in the wedding industry. she does workshops but she is so freely giving of information on her blog. i think there's a huge difference between wanting to truly see others succeed in their market and just wanting to make money off of others. Just my opinion
Concerned - I have been following amanda, and a few other photographers for a while now. i have been shooting for about 2 years, and I consider myself a newbie. as a newbie, looking for learning resources I discovered all of these workshops that photographers were doing. what is the purpose of charging someone who is new to the business $2500 dollars for a two day workshop? That is a semester of college tuition. Her work is nice, but how does one justify raising a price from $1500 to $2500 over a 1 year time frame. Greed. I'm concerned about the state of this industry. It seems as though there are few genuine people, but people looking to make tons of cash off of people who simply want to learn. Its not just amanda. there are people charging $95 for 15 page pdfs with grammar mistakes galore. its time that we stop giving these people our money, and do things the old fashioned way. Trial and error. i have noticed that the people who genuinely want to help aren't charging an arm and a leg for their contributions. be careful who you allow to inspire you.
Amy - As a cliet I was unhappy with her. My pictures were so fake looking. It didn't even look like me. The prices were outrageous. I tried contacting her later to ask questions on things and she would just not reply. I sent emails and Facebook messaged her. She ignored me and I find that very unprofessional.
B - Thank you for being honest. I have been thinking about taking her workshop. What are your thoughts tho on the posing guide...is it worth the $$??
T - Lori - Thank you for your honesty. I like how you spoke from the heart and took accountability for your own actions. This is not the first time I have heard of a negative experience. I am no longer interested in attending an AH workshop. Thank you for saving me $1500!

Lindsey - Wow, if you were trying to encourage any of us to considered AH's workshops you did absolutely the opposite. Apparently some of AH's followers are just as mean as she is!

Oh and by the way I'm sure AH and you post every single comment/review you receive on your work whether it's positive or negative for the rest of us to see! Give me a break! My favorite is your comment about there being plenty of clients to go around, of course you are right about that. However what's interesting about that is that AH has a perimeter set on who she will or will not teach her workshops to. Just saying!

I hope you never have to experience what Lori did with any of those you look up to in the business because then you'd be eating your words right about now!
Minion - Wow. Just wow. I am deeply ashamed and saddened that so many "professional" photographers have taken this opportuntiy to post mean-spirited, personal attacks -- in essence, bullying in a pack mentality -- about another industry professional. These are NOT workshop reviews. These are NOT helpful to others who are deciding whether or not to take a workshop or not.
I don't think it takes alot of courage to spew hateful, hurtful things. I don't think it takes alot of courage to remove positive comments or opposing points of view. And I don't think it takes a lot of courage to propogate negativity and point fingers at bullying, while doing so yourself and hiding behind so-called honesty, and speaking out. As I read through the comments below, the hipocrisy is staggering -- in particular, the comments where it's pointed out that good and bad reviews are equally important.
For each commenter who has posted here, are you really posting because you care about the industy? Or are you posting to be hurtful? Because you can post a negative review without being vicious. I am just not seeing this here.
Kim - Dear Annonymous, I'm sure it took a lot of courage to come out and say what you felt you needed to say. The reality is, in this industry photographers don't always feel like they are "allowed" to voice their opinion or feelings when it comes to issues such as this. One for the fear of backlash from the photographer/vendor and also the fear of retribution from the loyal followers of the aforementioned vendor/photographer. What I find appalling is the lack of integrity with in this industry, there should always be room for improvement and if you are offering a service or product you should know that there will be people who will not be satisfied and you should address that professionally and with integrity. I have heard from many sources/first hand that when photographers speak out against Amanda Holloway, they are threatened and bullied, some by her personally but mainly by her "loyal, unknowing and uninformed" followers, they are threatened with ruin of their business and of their character simply for speaking out about their lack of satisfaction in the product "she" was offering. While I am not completely shocked by this as this is a pattern of behavior for her, I am shocked she would allow such behavior seeing she is such a huge proponent of anti bullying... If a client has an issue deal with it professionally, you should be allowed to voice your opinion without fear of retribution. Thank you again "annonymous" for speaking out and don't let anyone have power over you, you had the courage to stand up and speak your mind as is your right to do so. If more people like you, Lori and Danielle would speak up maybe the direction of this industry would turn and it would have more accountability, integrity and "we" as an industry would get the respect it so deserves, instead it is stuck in the high school mob mentality due to the lack of professionalism like this...
annonymous - I attended Amanda's KSW last year and left there feeling invigorated and excited about my business and all the money I was going to make! While she did show us partially how she does her in person sales, she does not instruct on how she shoots unless its to her buddies. At her workshop I didn't care about being instructed on how to shoot so much though I did notice she really just does her own thing! I defended her from all the drama she took on over the last year and she was sooo sweet to me and made me think we were friends. Obviously I was wrong! She is a bully and does in a round about way bully people in her KSW group on fb without naming names. Like, Don't take other people's territories that are KSW alumni! Really?! This is my job, and if they want to choose me instead because I care and actually love my job and I believe I am good at it, then that is not my fault! So yeah I would agree she is a bully! Oh and her retreats........everyone from her past alumni are invited to go, but she will only sit by and speak with a select few. She also gives out free advice to her friends because well obviously they are where she gets her ideas. Oh and her branding/designing is from Pinterest. She does not come up with that stuff on her own, yet everyone copies her? Also I read the comment about her jumping in front of KSW attendees to take their ideas for shots, yes that happens alot! This really makes me sad to realize that all of what I have read about her is true, but I didn't see it till just these last few months. Yes she still does the same editing and claims that it's all her idea, but we all know she took those ideas from her previous mentors! I feel bad for the new 80 people that just signed up for her KSW and all paid her $1500, so she made $120,000 in just one day! Why isn't she more greatful? Because she keeps getting fed butt kissing BS from her select few buddies like she's the Queen of Photography! For Real though, I kinda feel like a little kid that just found out his favorite athlete is really just a drug taker! *Fake* I have heard her side of the story and ofcourse its geared to make her sound better than Lori, and I believed it then, but now I feel like Lori is absolutely correct!
Lol - When any of you get upset with her, just go to this site and you'll instantly feel better.

http://www.drphil.com/slideshows/slideshow/2218/?id=2218&slide=1&showID=429&preview=&versionID=
Anon - This is being passed around non Photography related forms now and it's awesome. We all knew bearkatlou was a tw@t back then and she still is today. Bahahahaha
Lindsey - Lori, I can't help but notice only comments supporting you are being published. Really? Nobody that was satisfied with the KSW commented? I find that hard to believe...in fact, I know it's not true because many of us who had a great experience commented. I'm sure you won't post this either since you didn't publish my original comment. Can you not accept that maybe she has matured as a teacher and as a person and is now giving quality workshops? People change, Lori. For you sake, I hope one day you do, too. It must be tiresome carrying around so much jealousy and hatred. Imagine where you could be if you'd focus your energy on your own business instead of Amanda Holloway's. There are plenty of clients to go around and plenty of room at the top for you both to be satisfied with your own success.
Anonymous - AH is a very hateful and catty person. I have dealt with her own attacks on myself before. She even put my personal name and personal business name out on her PUBLIC page for people to go to me and ridicule and harass me. She used to be a photographer I looked up to and now I see her as a hateful vindictive bully. I'm glad you posted this blog and I happen to stumble across it. I didn't do anything to deserve the backlash I got from AH and all her goonies, but I'm glad someone has stood up and said something of truth about this woman. Karma is a funny thing and she'll get hers one day.
anonymous - AH says she did nothing wrong HOWEVER she has been kicked out of the cm forum, obviously there is some substance, to this claim. AH i think is talented but she does seem a little arrogant, I am wanting more real reviews on her transform workshop? is it just the typical, portraiture, soft light multiply, dodge urn? all of the reviews seem to be from photographers that are her BFFs and probably part of her 'secret group.'
Anon - Im sorry you had a bad experience. Having had a similar experience, albeit with a different "rockstar" let me warn you to get ready for backlash. She, or her followers, will accuse you of whatever dishonest/dishonorable behavior they can think of. You will be painted as a copycat and an unskilled one at that out to undercut a saint.

She's written a blog post that, IMO, makes her look like an idiot but which suggests she'll be after you in assorted petty ways.

You don't have to approve this. I'm posting it anonymously because I am tired of my own battles on this front. I just wanted to warn you that these "all image, no substance" people will fight dirty to protect their image because that's all they have.
Lea - Thank you for this heartful review. I know it can't have been easy to write, much less publish. If nothing else, please know, I have bee dreaming of attending this workshop, and you have certainly saved me my hard earned cash.

Thank you for your honesty.
Carl - Bravo Lori, way to stand up and say you have been treated poorly. That's a terrible story and there is very little that is worse than being treated like that by someone you consider a friend.
Huong Forrest - Lori, I know how hard this was for you to articulate, write and PUBLISH, but thank you. I had no idea and can now take the "rocktog goggles" off to see the reality of what seems to be affecting quite a bit of the photography industry.
evie - Thank you. As someone who has felt the vitriol of a couple of "rocktogs" herself, I am so grateful for this review. It's unfortunate and, frankly, disgusting that people continue to operate this way. I'm sorry that you had an experience like this and truly thank you for sharing your story in the hopes that it will keep someone else from falling victim to a similar shark. I wish the photography community at large would stop jumping on people when they have a complaint about someone who is perceived to be a "rockstar". Having experienced that on a small scale I can tell you, it's not fun. Bravo to you for having the courage to tell your story!!!
Shalista Anderson - Thanks for posting this honest review. I have seen her on a few forums and I've been around for almost 10 years and felt that she didn't have enough experience or expertise to be doing a workshop after 30 seconds in business. Bravo to you for posting.
Carey - Thank you for sharing your story in such a detailed, well thought out manner. I applaud you for having the courage to take responsibility for our profession, so others can make informed decisions.

Bravo lady!
Danielle - Lori, this is so well-written, and I know you've been thinking of writing it for some time. I bet it's nice to get it all off your chest. Also know that many of us that share in this experience understand your point of view and have got your back. Backlash from said photographer for telling your point of view will NOT BE TOLERATED. Threats from lawyers, etc. are petty and ridiculous. You have the right to speak about your experience. Calling it slander or libel is absolute craziness. It's just another threat: Don't give negative reviews about my workshop, or else. No one should be bullied into giving a positive review. I hate that you were not given credit for the work and time you put in to help her build her empire. Thank you for sharing, Lori. Truly happy about your bravery.
Lara - Lori,

I'm so sorry you went through this, and I hope that others will be helped (both potential instructors and potential students).

And by putting out an honest, heartfelt review Lori, hopefully other potential instructors will take this to heart and put more preparation into their workshops, or reconsider altogether. I doubt Amanda was doing anything other than trying her best, so its important to give her the benefit of the doubt.

The thing is, anytime someone has been in business for 1-2 years, they should not be teaching, and photographers should not waste money thinking an inexperienced business person is going to be able to offer them "the secrets" and how to apply it to their own situation. Just because one photographer has a pricing model that works well for her first year in business, that does not mean she has compared or tried different versions-how could she in a single season? It's not fair to expect someone to be able to offer up any type of thoughtful dissection on one type of pricing model vs another. Most likely she has only copied her model from someone else who said it worked for them-this is what we all do. But in one year, she couldn't possibly understand why it works, here are 3 other models to try, these ones work for these types of photographer personalities, etc.

I know how easy it is to get sucked in by wanting that secret formula someone else may or may not have. But success isn't that easy. Focus your educational money on instructors with a proven track record, the ones who have been in business many years-have failed, succeeded, failed and succeeded again. That is the kind of experience it takes to really get the perspective needed to teach others.

Melonie Walker - Lori -thanks so much for sharing. This was so insightful. I have paid for a program (not this one in particular) but I have felt that I did not get the training I was promised. It's so hard to say anything for fear of what will happen. I applaud you! I learned the hard to make sure you research the speaker in depth before you attend - only issue is that sometime's it's very hard to find honest opinions about a program. Your review was very well written and very informative. Thanks again for sharing!
Lacy - Ahhh Lori... I know you didn't write this as a "woe is me" letter... more as an informative letter to other photographers who may simply not know better... but I am truly sorry... I know what this feels like... sort of... I've attended 3 workshops (business/life/photography related) and I can honestly say... only one was worth my time and money... and it was the cheapest one I went to... Go figure. The others were a complete disappointment... I wish there was a way to let people know...just because you have a pretty portfolio... does not mean you are qualified to teach! Very few photographers have the ability to teach...and teach well... Many DO have a hard time articulating what they are trying to teach... so in reality...they really should not be teaching... but workshops have been "all the craze" lately... and photographers...especially new ones think "I paid $900 for a workshop... and learned what I already knew... I can teach and make money too!" That just isn't the case... I know you would probably settle for an apology... but if she really cared about your success or friendship for that matter...she would have realized she dropped the ball and refunded your money so you could at least invest it in a teacher who IS worth the investment...

On another note... Your work is BEAUTIFUL... you don't need this photographer or any other photographer justifying that for you... and if she felt that you didnt really need what she had to offer... (it sounds like in her lack of unstruction she assumed you "had it")...she should have been honest with you up front and said... "You know...this workshop may not be for you..." THAT would have been the respectful thing to do.
Jill - I applaud you for telling the truth. Your comment about her jumping in and stealing the shot and taking over the student's time with the model is an absolute truth. An instructor should not be there to build their own portfolio. They should already have their own portfolio and focus on teaching the student how to pose. The reason people pay $1000 is to learn not to have the instructor use the student's learning time to build their portfolio. She also sent out all these questionnaires asking for very detailed information which she promised to go over in the workshop to help critique. That did not happen. I believe she uses the information in these required questionnaires to develop her next product to sell and build her CORPORATION. As she mentioned on her FB page, she is CEO of her CORPORATION.
Jess - Lori-wow. My heart goes put to you. I am so so sorry you went through such a negative experience. I just feel for you reading this. I agree, not all photographers are meant to be educators. Check out their history, background, and do some research before any business investment! Thanks for the thorough review.
Summer - Thank you for having the courage to speak out. It is super important for both good and bad reviews to be heard without having to feel guilty about it. If a person puts themselves out there as a vendor to others, they need to be able to accept the criticism and possibly make changes in their workshops to make them better for future attendees. I applaud you and hope that you possibly help any future "Lori's" from falling victim and loosing a lot of money.
Heather - Lori,
Thank you so much for sharing. You aren't the first person I've heard speak about Ananda in a negative way. I appreciate the heads up. I know it's not easy putting this all out there but it's so nice of you to do so. This will save many from falling in the trap of being ripped off!! Thanks! :)
Sarah - Thank you for your review... I feel most photographers who may be good photographers are not necessarily qualified to teach. This is not the first negative feedback I've heard about her/her workshop experience... More people should write a thorough review whether good or bad so that other photographers can know exactly what they are going to get.
Jessi - Your review is sincere and to the point. I appreciate that you highlighted both the positives and negatives and gave honest feedback on all aspects. It's too bad that what you were looking for when you invested in the mentoring didn't work out that way/as promised. Thanks for providing feedback that may prevent others from having a similarly negative experience.
Ashley - Very thorough. I appreciate your honesty in your review and am glad to have such resources when I research workshops to attend. I will take this information into great consideration.


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