Last June I was lucky enough to attend one of Lara Jade’s Fashion Photography Workshops in California, and let me tell you, it was one of the best educational decisions I have ever made. I learned more about fashion photography in two days than I learned in my entire foundation year at London College of Fashion (not to say I didn’t learn anything at LCF, I just didn’t learn anything about fashion photography).

I first discovered Lara’s photography way, way, way, back in ninth grade when my friend Jessa introduced me to Deviant Art (thanks Jessa!). I have watched Lara’s career evolve over the last ten years: from self-portrait photographer to fashion photographer to educator, and admired her ability to capture on camera what, I would imagine, many fashion editors daydream about.

I arrived in L.A. in the early afternoon and caught a cab to Topanga. I felt slightly overwhelmed as I had gotten zero sleep the night before and decided to wake up early to get to the airport ahead of time. Flying already makes me feel like garbage but wait, it gets better. I ended up with a cab driver that decided that he was going to chain smoke the entire cab ride. By the time I got to The Mountain Mermaid I felt absolutely disgusting and stunk of cigarettes. Perfect timing for two gorgeous, blonde, babes to walk up to me in my post flight daze and introduce themselves.

Lara Jade and Ashlee Gray are by far two of the most wonderful female creatives I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know. They have such a great wealth of knowledge and are both so generous and willing to share their experiences. I was lucky enough to be staying at The Mountain Mermaid with them and got a real peek at the behind the scenes in the photography world they are a part of.

I cannot adequately describe the amount of hard work Lara puts into producing a workshop of this nature. There are so many people to coordinate and so many other variables that one must stay on top of at all times. Though Lara’s primary role is to instruct, she also juggles the titles of personal secretary, event planner, social media/PR coordinator, travel agent, and creative director (and I am sure there are a few more I am missing!). She is  an inspiring artist that sees the value in helping others push forward in their careers. I have no idea how she does it all, but having an awesome support team never hurts.

Ashlee Gray is an amazing retoucher that Lara works with in New York. Ashlee is easily one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met and the amount of work she put into creating her custom educational experience is mind blowing. I have completely changed the way I use Photoshop because of her. Not only did her presentation on retouching change my workflow, but she also ignited a new passion for retouching that I did not know existed within me. I have always enjoyed manipulating photos, but it wasn’t until I met Ashlee that I truly fell in love with Photoshop. You can tell just by having a casual conversation with her that Ash loves what she does. Not only that, but she is really excited to share what she does, and her excitement is incredibly contagious. It is a dream come true to have learned from someone with that sort of enthusiasm. I could honestly sit for hours listening to Ashlee talk about blend-if and all the other super cool Photoshop tools I had no idea existed.

Felix Kunze is Lara’s right hand man. He never misses a beat when it comes to lighting, or humour for that matter, and he anticipates Lara’s needs before she can verbalize them. It’s like watching the Sedin Twins play hockey. Daniel and Henrik always seem to know where to pass to without needing to physically see one another—It’s like telepathy! He gave us the low down on fashion lighting during Lara’s workshop.

Felix’s endless knowledge of lighting never ceases to amaze me. Not only is he a lighting pro, but his eye for creative composition in portraiture is so unique. He is able to sculpt light and create the kind of contemporary imagery we all aspire to. He dishes out the perfect amount of the comedic relief and makes learning such an enjoyable task. It has been an utter pleasure watching him instruct, both on Creative Live and in person.

I would recommend this workshop to any photographer, not just those who dig fashion. There is a ton of content. The skills I acquired are ones that I will be able to utilize in a spectrum of shooting genres.

These three individuals are not just creative talents but also talented educators. They have an amazing ability to genuinely connect with their students and care deeply about the quality of education they provide. After my first two years of University, I was so discouraged by instructors that had lost that light, or perhaps never had that sort of passion to begin with. In the last year I have come across so many amazing instructors. I find myself hanging on to their every word largely because of how much they enjoy their field of expertise and how much they love sharing their knowledge. Instructors who can relate to their students will always be able to captivate their audience in a way that those lacking passion or enthusiasm just can’t.