Monday, November 1, 2010

A Girl In A Chair Workshop Review: Jasmine Star Is Some Girl In The Hot Seat With Your Wedding Day Magazine

Do you know who Jasmine Juarez is? Or maybe Jasmine de la Torre. Or could it even be Jasmine Tower?

Oh wait. You may be more familiar with Jasmine STAR. Sorry. We forgot. This is the alleged alias that's used most of the time. Or is it her real name? What is her real name? Why would someone use a fake name anyway? Especially if we are "keepin it real," as she often likes to say.

Let's put on on our explorer hats kids and put down your pitch forks. We're taking a field trip. Not going on a crusade. We just report the facts. You decide what you don't want to believe.

Most of the PZN staff likes Jasmine Juarez the same as we like every other human being on this planet...wait, we meant...Jasmine de la Torre...shit...Jasmine Star. Sorry. We're not used to calling people by a 'pretend' name unless they're a famous celebrity or movie star (oh, that word again! it's almost like...psychological marketing via a PR strategy of some sort).

Take for instance Alicia Cook, who's a very real person. She's this really talented musician who plays the piano and an even better singer. Say Photogzilla is her new PR rep. She asks him how can I market myself? Photogzilla, being the rockstar he is, tells her people need to remember you are a cool piano player and always sing in key. Hmm. He jumps out of his seat and exclaims, "I've got it...Alicia Keys!"

Now, let's hold hands for the next part cause it tends to get sooo complicated with some people...Let's hypothetically say a young woman walks in to a public relations office and asks how to market herself. PR rep asks her what talents or skills she has. She responds, "Well, I was at this photographer's workshop in my wedding dress for a shoot. I was promised I would get some free photos, so my husband and I went to play model. Plus, our wedding photos majorly sucked because this guy we flew out to Hawaii was such a flake. So we figured we'd get some new ones from like 14 different people."

The PR asks, "Yes, that's fine. But what can you do as far as skills or talent that I can help you with?"

She says,"Well, when I was there, I overheard the teacher guy Mike saying something about making $25,000 each wedding he shoots and my eyes just glazed over with dollar signs! I looked over to my husband and whispered, 'I need to quit school and do this!' And after that, I decided I want to be a wedding photographer."

PR rep thinks. "Okay, so how long have you been shooting?"

Her, "Shooting?? I don't hunt. That's cruelty to animals! I own a dog. And if you must know, we buy our meats from the grocery store."

PR, "I meant taking photographs."

Her, "Oh. Never. We just bought a 20D from the store yesterday and I blogged about it today."

PR, "Oh...(long pause)...I guess that's not a problem. I'm sure you picked up some stuff at this workshop you were modeling for."

Her, "Oh yes! I picked up all I need to know. During the workshop, I heard Mike tell someone he was shooting us in something called A.V. mode...which I think stands for Audio Visual mode. Anyway, once I heard that little tid bit, I realized I could shoot a real wedding now that I knew what mode to put the camera in. Look at first time picking up a professional camera at the workshop..."

She pulls out a photo to show Mr. PR:

PR, "That's wonderful. I don't know anything about photography, but how do you know if this Audio Visual mode is the way to shoot the entire wedding?"

Her, "Oh, that's easy silly! I was in a wedding dress when he was shooting me, so I put the two together, and voila! Now, I want to be famous just like him and that's why I'm here. What can you do for me?"

PR, "Well, let's start with you telling me your full name."

Her, "Jasmine Juarez but I want to change it."

PR, "Why would you want to change it?? What's wrong with your name? You're going to be a wedding photographer...not a movie actor."

Her, "It sounds too ethnic, regular, unfamous, and it doesn't have a subliminal affect on other people. And I want to be really famous one day. Like a rockstar!"

PR, "Ok, so you want people to hear your name and think you're a rockstar? Fine. [sarcastically] Why don't you just change your name to Jasmine Star??"

Her, "Fo'real?? That's a great idea. You are awesome. I'm so stoked. I can't wait. That's going to appeal more to the white demographic of brides that get published in magazines across the country more so than any women of color. On top of that, this will align me up to be the envy of other photographers who will start to think I'm actually a star! [rubs both palms]"

Now how important is image to Jasmine? Very. She needs people to view her as successful, as that's the only real reason we can think she changed her name to Star. For instance, what does carrying around a Louis Vuitton bag do for your image? We obviously do it for our ego. We want people to think we're successful and can afford the finer things in life. We want other women to come to us and to compliment us with their envious eyes (Side note: contrary to popular dreams sold at workshops/seminars, wedding photography will not make you rich).

With that said, some people like to make sure their Louis Vuitton is shown off even though no one else is standing front and center trying to show it off, say, like a would be 'star.' While no one else keeps their purse in hand, we've got Jasmine making sure it's always by her side.

So much for keepin it real. I guess we'll write this off as 'consistent branding.' Sure. Why not? But what do we know...Even Photogzilla owns Louis Vuitton luggage. But this isn't about Louis. We're just trying to figure out why someone would feel it's so important to become a star. Last name and all.

This is not saying we think it's wrong to change your name. Do whatever makes you happy. However, this should give you an idea on the premeditated thoughts of grandeur that apparently is begging to come out in some people. Fame. Fortune. Envy. Things Jesus Would Do, eh?

Around the office here, we think we like Jasmine as a person and blogger. Comes off as a sweet girl with some spunk in her trunk. Yeah. About that trunk. We saw CreativeLive cameras focusing on her trunk too. Can't blame them. She made sure her assets were visible, professionally speaking of course. Hey, it's being broadcast for a thousand people to see online. And we believe in marketing sex in any form possible. Our chief does it all the time. Work what yo'mama gave ya. Plain and simple. Sell it girrrrl.

Especially with girl spunk empowering attitude and phrases which play a good distraction from the insecurities of lacking fundamental knowledge, but sound great with lots of "Ums..." as precursors to best guess answers like "I honestly don't know." Good thing you're being 'honest.' Imagine if you spoke like that as a lawyer in court. How convincing would you be to the jury? Well, good thing we're not talking about someone who went through law school for such a profession.

Gorge. Just gorge indeed.

Now, PZN has kept our readers informed about how the kooky nuts sell fluff and try to capitalize on the hard earned money of newbie photographers. In many cases, hard earned money a person or couple sacrifices because one wants to pursue the dream and allure of photography. If we covered every single workshop giving nut out there, we couldn't do what our chief loves to do...which is actually shoot. So we have to be somewhat selective and actually have a mathematical formula to determine who we call out. It involves a game of beer pong if you must know.

We thought Photogzilla had shaken up our beloved industry by making examples of some morons in our field. Opportunists that had managed to become successful marketers of their name (or false name in this case) more so than because of their work ironically enough. Our sexy chief always likes to say this about all the commotion some claim he ignited, "We didn't start the fire. It was always burning. As the world was turning." How original chief. Damn you're sexy, sir, with your original quotes.

Moving on. A couple of weeks ago, our unpaid Starbucks runner intern who likes to read Jasmine del Monte...we mean, Jasmine STAR's blog, saw a post about her teaching a new type of workshop. We were all ears after that. We went to the link and were stunned to see our chipmunk of a blogger involved in a workshop con with a twist. A few days later we had hordes of emails and direct messages about the same thing being sent to God's gift to women, our chief editor Photogzilla. So we had to investigate.

The newest con involves a magazine with a very small reader base trying to exploit the work of photographers without even paying for dinner before screwing them well and good. Instead of paying a photographer to do an editorial shoot, we seem to be living in the days of giving away free unlicensed work in exchange for the so called free publicity. Sign of the times and we rolled our eyes and said fine; that's a whole other discussion. But how bad can THIS be?

Well, the producers of this grand opportunity want to make sure they let you know they want you to call them "daddy." They apparently want naive photographers to pay them $30,000 to show how to assume the bitch position. The cherry on top will be our co conspirator blogger extraordinaire Jasmine Somethingoranother. This is after all billed as a "Photography Workshop." When our romance novel cover model chief Photogzilla saw their ad, his response was, "STOKE me in a closet and call me DJ!"

Let's break it down shall we?

First blatant act of buffoonizm: being a 'photography' workshop taught by Jasmine, we would think they would use HER photos to promote the workshop. Not a chance. The images being used is by a photographer named Norma Lopez Molina. Do we see a credit? Nope. How fucked up is that? Wait. We found it. It's way at the bottom. Where no one looks. And not even a link back. Double fucked up. Teach a workshop and use another person's hard work. We can only hope Norma licensed her images to be used in a commercial endeavor where the organizers are all profiting. We would think anyone claiming to teach all about "model release forms" and editorial know-how would know better than being this stupid. We can just hope Norma gets a nice cut. Perhaps, these workshop people actually don't know much else besides how to take advantage of an opportunity to fleece naive photographers.

{{{ EDUCATION LINK BREAK - Want to learn more about licensing your image so no one takes advantage of you? Start here if you don't want your hard work used for free: Licensing Guide }}}

The ironic part about this is that Norma's images have been used before by this tiny operation called Your Wedding Day magazine. See the original post for yourself here or below:

This immediately begs the question; why not ask Norma to teach what your advertising? Hmm. Her work appears to qualify her much more than Jasmine [insert any last name you like at this point]. Or perhaps its because Norma kept her real last name and didn't have enough PR sense to change it to something more marketable like STAR. Who knows? Whatever. So basically, Norma may have gotten screwed before the other 30 attendees. Nice.

It gets even funnier. Here we have YWD partnering up with Jasmine, but we couldn't find a single image of Jasmine's that YWD ever used online. Here's what we got when looked into their blog:

So nothing about 'Jasmine Star' on the blog...Hmm. Okay. Let's try the YWD website:

Oh, how ironic: "Total 1 results found." The "renowned photographer" partnering up with YWD to teach this workshop is nowhere to be found on the YWD website or blog. Not a Just one search result for this sad workshop; the advertisement post?? Unfortunately, someone forgot to extend the YWD social media arm to her; the very person teaching this conshop.

A few may know that Jasmine gives repeated lectures about online Social Media. The one where you're told blog twice a week, talk about your pet's life, have a Twitter account, open a Facebook page, and link back everyone/everything you mention (just like we did in the last sentence). And, yes, that's the entire Social Media lecture right there in one sentence. Oh wait. We forgot. One last thing. Make sure you fail at something you love and don't bother succeeding at something you hate, blah, blah, blah...If you're wondering, that's the butchered version of the quote from Cameron Diaz in the movie What Happens In Vegas where her character turns down a promotion. Jasmine says this phrase at probably every single speech and gives credit to JD for saying it (hubby and under the table unofficial employee of Showit sites no less). Note the link backs again...We're the mother of SOCIAL MEDIA. Worrrrd (and there's some more cool sounding spunky lingo for ya).

On a serious side note, you could learn MUCH more about Social Media than Jasmine's lectures that people pay good money to sit through only to see this very same site thrown up on her powerpoint presentation. She even showed her source at this small tiny little BIG ass failure you may have heard of called Escalate Live (<---Note who's the daddy of Social Media with the FIRST link you see right therrrr). Want to see Jasmine's source material? Here you go: LINKY.

Want more irony? Norma's name can be found on YWD's website/blog 12 times.

Our favorite part is Norma uses her real name. Seems you can use your real name and still get published on YWD's blog based on your work. Yes kids. You heard right. We used the word work. Also known as merit. Not manipulative marketing, like say, if your last name was Superstar, Amazing, etc.

Wait a minute. We thought this workshop was about getting published and so on. Something does not compute Captain! Let us get this straight. You're teaching a workshop on how to get published, you partner up with someone who's images you've used only ONCE, and then promote the entire thing with another photographer's images? This gets classier by the minute.

Dare we bother with the rest of scam? There's so much, we can't put it all in paragraphs, so we'll give you some bullet points. Bullets are also easier to read for the people we write about, cause they do have such fabulous lives and can't manage stay away from the real Rockstar, Photogzilla (Hi Becker, Dane, DJ, Jasmine, etc...etc).

  • "you will be on set shooting high-fashion editorial-worthy models...amazing content to add to your portfolio" - So after we finish conning you, you can go con REAL would be brides that think that you know what you're doing and can expect the same type of shots, cause y'know, you set the shot up and all. And real brides on your website? No, no silly goose. These are all MODELS setup in a controlled environment with no time constraints, say like a real wedding, by the organizers of this sham. It's sooo ethical to use workshop images on your website. We're screwing you, so go on, screw clients expecting the same stuff. On a side note, we would like to know if Jasmine has EVER been hired to do an actual HIGH FASHION EDITORIAL shoot. You know. Where money actually exchanges hands and not necessarily ballz.

  • "...working intimately with Jasmine Star on how to capture images that fit your brand." - Do you actually expect 30 people in attendance to get 'intimate' learning and analysis of their 'brand' within 3-4 hours of shooting? Highly unlikely. Ask any professional photographer who's been in business for longer than 3 years. With the amount of "ums" between question and answers going on, you can cut down an hour right there. Sounds like a naive person wrote up this entire workshop ad, and worse, naive organizers (with all due respect).
  • This timeline is a really bad joke. Seriously. 10 - 12pm the speakers talk about themselves and throw out some inspiration speeches and speed through the topics they want to cover. This is constructive learning? Then 3 hours of shooting where we're going to become PRO photographers? We can only hope there's a chip implant during this time to gain the necessary knowledge/experience to show a return on investment. Speaking of investments.....
  • If you were really naive and fell for the sense of urgency created for this so-called "exclusive" workshop, you signed up early and flushed down $795 of your kids college savings fund. In which case, we have a certain bridge for sale in a prime New York location we would like to offer for your consideration. "Only 30 spaces available." Who are you kidding? These marketing tactics quite frankly sicken us professionals who have been around long enough. It's really no different than falling for the Home Shopping Network or an As Seen On TV ad where the announcer pushes your buttons by telling you only 100 of these beautiful cubic zarconia necklaces are left...Get yours now! Meanwhile, 5,000 pieces of this Made In China costume jewelry sits in a large warehouse out in Idaho. 
  • Did...someone...just...say....FILM? We almost fell out of our chairs. If it's not obvious already, who at this workshop is even qualified to talk about this medium? Is Jose Villa a surprise speaker? Dare we even bring up the 3 hours that will fly by of small talk and ego stroking between shots?
Let's get one thing very straight. No professional photographer who knows what they're doing will be going to this workshop. They know the cost benefit of having a few hours to rub up against someone who may mention them in their blog with a 'thanks for giving me a few thousand dollars to give you an inspirational talk' link back. No short term or long term return at all.

The people that are falling for this workshop and others like it are the newbie photographer that is naive enough to trust too easily. This person has no experience and is looking for guidance. It's only after working for 2-3 years will they see how little they learned by throwing their money away at obvious scams like this.

The last thing we want to leave with you are the topics to be covered at this moneyshop. We're going to help you get started because we want you to save your $995. If you find it useful, just remember to buy a Photogzilla t-shirt when they come out. We promise it'll be cheaper than this conshop.

  • 1. How to shoot and take successful photos in different lighting and atmosphere: Take a real photography course, read plenty of free books at your library, read free photography forums, practice shooting, and practice, practice, practice some more. THIS can never be learned at ANY one day workshop. 
  • 2. Top ten things a photographer must always have at every job: Silly topic trying to convince you there are 10 secret things you don't know but they do. The answer to this is in topic #1. When you know how to shoot, have learned all about your equipment, and defined your unique style, YOU will know what 'top' things to bring to every job.
  • 3. Deadly mistakes every photographer should avoid: Are we still trying to scare people into attending this workshop? Back up your CF cards right away in 3 different places. Bring back up equipment to every job. Have liability insurance.
  • 4. Taking GREAT pictures, working on overall composition and shooting: See #1, where you will learn about the rule of thirds and composition, etc, etc.
  • 5. What kind of images magazine editors looks for: Pick up any wedding magazine and study the images. Most want to see the details and decorations the brides spent thousands of dollars on. Keep them clean and simple. Minimize the artsy fartsy stuff. Think product shots. Like we said. Pick up a few copies of the latest wedding mags and flip thru them. When you've done topic #1, you'll begin to see how the photographer achieved the shot, while at the same time which pics the editors picked.
  • 6. Find out how to submit your wedding the right way so it gets picked up: Ask! Simple as that. Every magazine and online website has contact information. Send them a friendly email asking how THEY prefer you submit work for features. No two magazines work the same. They have detailed requirements like image size and number of images they consider, etc. THIS sham of a workshop will tell you to submit images to Two Bright Lights (eyes rolling). Unless you're a sucker, avoid this. PZN isn't crazy about this latest fad and we're not convinced how this even benefits any photographer.
  • 7. How to cast and work with models: Dare we remind you this workshop is being taught by Jasmine, who is a wedding photographer. If you want to learn about editorial work, THIS IS NOT THE WORKSHOP to learn about editorial shooting. This is a whole different beast of an industry and there are legit workshops that can teach you about this topic. As most of the attendees at this workshop will be wedding photogs, here is our answer to this topic: NEVER use models for your portfolio. Always use real brides from real weddings on your website. If you've never shot a wedding and don't have anything to show, go work for another established photographer as a second or third shooter. Build up your portfolio from real weddings. ANY workshop that promises you photo opportunity to build your portfolio is misguiding you into misguiding real clients.
  • 8. Casting for the right project, model release forms and other forms you must have on set: Again, Jasmine is not an editorial photographer. See topic #7. Also, google is your friend. You'll find plenty of model release forms online. These are very straightforward. Don't be lazy. Do your homework. Plus, learn your local and state laws about copyright, releases, and contracts. This ties in as well.
  • 9. Editorial styling direction - it's the details that matter: Like we said in topic #5. Also read up books on macro photography and still life. It'll do wonders for you. Practice shooting.
  • 10. Photoshop: when is it too much or not enough: We scratched our heads here because Jasmine herself doesn't know Photoshop. She has repeatedly admitted this. In fact, she doesn't even edit her own photos. She sends them to a 3rd party to clean up her photos. Just to answer this topic though, see our answer in topic #5 again. Don't go crazy with those actions that looked cool the first 30 seconds. Editors like consistent clean images that are as close to natural as possible. Don't forget to pick up the magazine that you want to submit your photos to and look at the images they used. Once you've done topic #1, you'll know what was overly photoshop'd and what wasn't.
  • 11. Being your own publicist: Simple. Change your last name to something that sounds ultra cool. Like Badass or something. Then go pimp yourself to magazine editors and vendors. Seriously though, if you need a publicist, go hire one. Photographers bitch about a bride using uncle bob instead of hiring them, why would you try to accomplish something a professional publicist would be able to do better? With that said, if you suck at design, hire a professional designer to work on your logo too. The list goes on.
  • 12. Building your vendor/community relationships: Take vendors out to lunch on your dime and @mention them on Twitter as much as possible. Pimp each other. Build a friendly on going relationship. Send them free images from every wedding you shoot with them before they even ask you. Plug their link online with the wedding you both work on. Simple.
  • 13. Social networking, media, branding, and importance of marketing yourself - the right way: Don't just follow the steps people give you. Understand how it really works. Besides the Wikipedia link Jasmine likes to use, we want you to remember there are plenty of other online resources discussing this topic to death...and for FREE. For example, try this. Again, for you newbs out there, this type of topic requires so much depth and understanding, there is NO WAY a 20 minute talk about this at Jasmine's workshop will help you attain the required understanding to implement this successfully if you have no idea what this is about. Do your homework.
  • 14. Staying current with the bride and groom's editorial requests and social media demands: Editorial requests from brides/grooms? WTF? We think they're talking about a bride wanting a certain pose from a magazine image she found. Well, if that's the case, if you know topic #1, guess what? You can execute it cause you know your shit. Otherwise, they are enjoying their wedding day and hire you for your perspective and style. They won't have any editorial requests. Only social media demands they may have is using your pro photos on Facebook. You need to give them images with your logo on them and provide strict instructions none of the images can be cropped to remove your logo.
  •  15. Any questions? There are plenty of free photography forums online with thousands of other photographers who are willing to help you grow as a photographer. They even provide constructive criticism of your work. If you take a real photography course at a school, your professor will help you as well. Leave your ego at home and go to your local photography get together and organize shoots with other photographers. Ask them any questions you have. Go work as an intern for a professional photographer and pay your dues in the battle field. All photographers like talking shop during their free time with other photographers. If you have specific questions for Photogzilla, leave it in the comment box below or email him at He'll be happy to give you a sexy answer if he isn't too drunk.
We all know Jasmine is reading Photogzilla In A Chair Workshop answers and taking notes for her presentation. Well, we're glad we could just help. "You're welcome, Jasmine...for going easy on you." :)

We also know that the organizers are going to read this PZN article and go back to the drawing boards to reevaluate their entire workshop. Excellent. We want that. We want anyone giving a workshop to realize they need to provide an experience to their attendees worth more than the entry fee. Don't provide answers that can be attained for free already. $1,000 is not chump change and you're not here to take advantage of others just because it's not illegal yet. That's an entry level Louis Vutton bag biyaatch!

If any of you experienced photographers reading this want to help your fellow man, feel free to leave additional answers to the above topics by using the appropriate number. Show your photographers some group love.

We'd like to leave you with this image to help you understand what's in a name, in case you're thinking of changing yours...Ladies & gentleman...Free to be the real you with your 'real' name...The magical veil of marketing...

To be a false star, or not to be, that is the question.

Did you or someone you know take a workshop taught by Jasmine Star? We want to hear from you. PZN asks you share your experience in the comment section below so others can make an informed decision.

Keep Stalking The Real Rockstar...Photogzilla!
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