Bella, Pratik and Wraith by Gidi Meir Morris

This might sound cocky. Actually, who am I kidding, it is cocky, but if I can't be cocky about something I've invested myself into for 15 years then what can I be cocky about? *

Anyway, what I wanted to say was that I know photoshop. Even, I might say, know it very well, and I don't believe any online courses are going to teach me anything I don't know. I've believed this for a while, and I admit its a mix of both knowing that all online courses aim for the beginner to intermediate, almost never to the advanced user and the fact that I'm being a little cocky.
But then came Pratik Naik and ruined my theory.
Pratik's course on CreativeLive caught off guard because I really wasn't expecting to learn anything from it, and about ten minutes into randomly tuning in, half way through the second day, I was already fumbling in my pocket for my credit card to buy the class. He is that good.

And so when he announced a month or so ago that he is coming to London to teach a workshop I grabbed at it (as in, subscribed to notifications on his news feed) by the coat tails and waited for registration to open. And then I went to look at Bella Kotak's portfolio.
I'd already noted Bella's name several times, as her images popped into my newsfeed and Pinterest feed from time to time, but I have to admit I never really followed her work. That was mistake number one right there.

Day #1: Bella

So I registered for the course and showed up on the day, with an slightly bored air about me, thinking I'll just watch Bella shoot some photos on the first day and then on the second day I can finally pick Pratik's brain, which is what I really wanted.
That was mistake number two right there.

The first day, in which I didn't just get to watch Bella, but under her guidance and precisely executed set of styling (dress by Kathryn Love), makeup (by Lydia Punkhurst) and modelling by Lulu Lockhart I also shot this new portrait, titled Wraith, which I'm not only extremely pleased with but also frustrated by, because I can't quite categorise it (which is why I had to change the "Wayfarer" category into "Wayfarer et al" and add it there).

The first day also reminded me of how easy it can be to just get together with some talented friends and shoot something incredible. I've been so fixated with not "wasting my money on studio rental" that I've spent more time scheming about how to execute a "perfect shoot" than actually shooting, and thats one of the reasons why 2014 has been so stagnant for me. Time to refresh everything, and Bella's example has really given me that knock on the head that I needed.
Things are now starting to move forwards again, thanks to her.

Day #2: Pratik

The next day was Retouching Day with Pratik.
I'm not quite sure what to say here other than... damn that guy knows his stuff. He really humbles me (other than that little bit of cockyness up there) and my supposed Photoshop knowledge, and he has given me some "mind fucking" tips which I'm now struggling to make a part of my regular workflow.
The problem with being experienced is that you're also set in your ways, and changing them is hard. But I'm working on it, and I believe that in the long run, Pratik's advise will really have an impact on my work.

I'll also mention that Pratik make's it his mission for his students to remain such forever and has given those few of us that attended an open invitation to call on his guidance in the future. I really respect that and think I'll take that advice with me.
I really miss my teaching days and once I get my own teaching back on track, I'll extend the same invitation that Pratik gave me, to my own students (as in, I'll tell them that if they ever have any more questions, they can ask Pratik. ;) Just kidding).


Bella and Pratik's workshop was brilliant. Period. Its clear that they are passionate about what they do. They have a purpose in life, and it radiates off of them both. They are also annoyingly genuine and sweet... which I can only be envious of. I know I have a tendency to close down in professional environments and I'd really like to try and be more like those two in that respect.

I also loved how important it is to them to create a community of professionals and artists. I have to give a shout out to my brilliant fellow students, and now friends, Leigh, Anna-Lena, Victor, and Mahesh, you are all so annoyingly talented!

* I accept the fact that you don't have to be cocky at all, but I'm still human.