Where in the world is annabelle dando?

Anyone that follows my blog knows that I have been a bit M.I.A. lately.  Besides the craziness of fall wedding and portrait season, the upcoming holidays, the general madness that is life — I’ve also been doing a little bit of traveling.  The very first thing I wanted to blog about, before I get back to my normal blogging schedule (and believe me, I have plenty of posts to put up!) is about my latest trip.

Where: Memphis, Tennessee

When: All last week

What: The Genesis Workshop

Who: Melanie and Jeff Mansfield, Tony and Amy Hoffer, Sam Hassas, Ed Pingol, Evan Baines and almost 50 amazing photographers from all walks of life (and the globe)


I first heard of the Genesis workshop by stalking Tony Hoffer’s blog (yes, photographers do stalk other photographers from time to time).  The instant I heard about it, I knew I had to be there.  Another photographer friend of mine from New Jersey (Rich Lavigne) warned me that last year’s Genesis had sold out pretty quickly so I needed to be sure to register as soon as I could.  So, when registration opened for Genesis, despite the fact that I was at my niece and nephew’s pre-school, I started dialing the number I’d gotten off the Genesis workshop and saved for speed-dialing…and it was busy!  This caused a panicked fluster to my generally excitable nature and I soon employed the help of one of the mom’s at the school to dial also, just to make sure I’d thru.

Melanie Mansfield’s voice sounded identical to an angel’s when she picked up.

Fast forward nine months and I get on a plane at SIX IN THE MORNING (six. that means I had to be in the airport at five. that means i had to be up at three.  we all know i’m not a morning person, here, so i’ll leave it at that) to go to Memphis — a town I only know as that town I drove by on my way from Nashville to Dallas one time (and the weird pyramid structure that looks like someone built years ago thinking the future would look like Back to the Future Part II). Oh, and I know Graceland. Of course.

Here’s the thing though, folks:  I would have been on a plane for this workshop at three o’clock in the morning to Timbuktu, that’s how much I wanted to be there.  Memphis is a cool sleepy town, but my brain was focused on this amazing workshop. In fact, below are the ONLY two “touristy”/architectural/shots I took of Memphis the whole time I was there:

Alright, getting back to the main event here, the workshop.  It did not disappoint.  We started with the instructor shootout, where we were given the opportunity to observe all our brilliant instructors pose, light, and use the environment around them for amazing pictures.  Before we left, Tony encouraged us to use the time to really sit back and absorb, so I mainly grabbed behind-the-scenes shots of what the instructors were doing. Like below, where Melanie showed her skills with the 70-200 (which is also one of my favorite lenses):

(Oh and before I move on, can I just say that I have to give major props to Mel for shooting in heels. Not only heels but matching heels.)

And we were all enraptured, of course, by our amazing instructors:

(Can you imagine being the models and having this many cameras pointed at you? Yikes! And that’s only a small group of us!)

But it was sheer magic watching Sam Hassas come up with his brilliant and creative ideas…

…and Evan Baines use his crazy cameras…

…and Tony and Amy Hoffer’s ability to teamwork and turn day into night…

…and Ed Pingol, creative lighting genius master that he is, do his lighting so ridiculously brilliant that I followed him around like a drooling puppy:

And had the workshop ended with the instructor shootout, it still would have blown my mind with more information that I’ve gotten in years of reading books and going to seminars. (I’m so serious. For me, at least, there is nothing like hand-on interaction!)  But it didn’t stop there.  There were three long days (12-13 hours!) of rotations, workshops, talks.  I learned more than I could have possibly hoped and was so amazed at the level of attention that our instructors paid to every last detail. They also were incredibly encouraging, wanting us to succeed, to push ourselves beyond our limits, to not settle for the ordinary. I honestly love these people, they are amazing and I can’t thank them enough.

So, I’ve probably babbled on enough, but the summary is this: Genesis changed my life as a photographer.

Anyway, here are a few shots I did grab of the models during rotations.  I didn’t actually shoot too much compared to what I normally would, but I really wanted to maximize the time I took thinking about the material being presented.

Genesis also gave me the opportunity to network with some incredible photographers from all over the country (and England and Canada).  I had a brilliant time getting to know them and left with some awesome new friendships.  It was a truly wonderful journey and, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful and humbled that I had the chance to participate.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  • A 1,000 word blog post and no mention whatsoever about THEE image of YOU everyone on YOUR blog NEEDS to see.

    My lips are sealed Annabelle……my lips are sealed.


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