INSPIRE 2015 :: Portland Maine Workshop Recap

Earlier this month I traveled to Portland, Maine to teach a full-day workshop at Inspire Photo Retreats. This is my second year speaking at Inspire and just as the name suggests, it truly is an inspirational experience. Last year I presented a 4-hour talk titled, “It’s OK To Suck.” It followed my career journey and spoke to a laundry list of struggles I encountered from the time I first picked up a camera, to leaving my previous career and finding my path as a full-time photographer working in the commercial market. It was by far the most memorable experience I ever had while attending a photography conference and I knew I wanted to return in 2015 to teach a hands-on workshop.

Through-out the past two years of being an Inspire Alumni, I have made some incredible new friends. Even though I got stuck in a blizzard last year on my way home, only to crash in Boston with Kristin Chalmers’ family and then take a 30+ hour train ride home (which ran of of both food and alcohol), I made the decision to return in to Inspire in 2015. This year was equally as inspirational as last year, but I felt as if I wasn’t as prepared this time around. Having spent much of December and January with a huge load of client work, my family (me included) was sick with the flu and having spent time with my father in the hospital, my workshop came together great with the help of a few great folks. Big thanks to Mark, Enna and Eric from Inspire, along with my assistant Ned Jackson (no relation), Doug Levy, Seshu Badrinath, Kristin Chalmers & Lamar Walker (my model). Without these folks, this wouldn’t have been possible!

This year’s intensive workshop was tailored around my editorial and advertising work, focusing on shooting in simple locations, using lighting to our advantage and covered topics such as marketing, handling client creative briefs and learning how to adapt quickly and creatively in various shooting situations. I even got to borrow Doug Levy’s Hasselblad medium format with IQ140 digital back! Below is a look at some of the shots I created during my workshop:

(Shot on Doug Levy’s Hasselblad with IQ140 digital back)




(Shot on Doug Levy’s Hasselblad with IQ140 digital back)




The two shots below are of fellow photographer Laura DeCarlo. We shot these in the lobby of the Westin on the last day of the seminar (with the help of my friend Kristin Chalmers.) We “deconstructed” a round glass table and used the metal frame to find interesting light and lines using simple light.



The room we were shooting in had these rad paintings hanging on the wall. We borrowed a Wescott Ice Light from the folks at LensProToGo and used it to create a faux environmental image of photographer Ashley Firth (below) and utilized a slow shutter speed to get the desired effect. I kinda dig the result, albeit creepy.


Below are a few behind the scenes shots from the workshop taken by the awesome Kate McElwee (









See more of Jackson & Co.’s work at!