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Update: Hands-On Seminars

Update: Hands-On Seminars

Where We Are Today:

As they say in Hollywood, we are “on hiatus”.

Said another way, we are “pausing”, or putting a “gap in the sequence” of seminars. Right now, we’ve postponed our scheduled classes. They are on hold.

Why?  The economy is affecting the seminars, too.

Before the economy tanked, we had a star studded line-up, teaching one seminar a month, to no more than 15 students in a class, two full days for $350.00. We were able to do this because of the generous financial support of our sponsors.

Lighting Model Hai Thi Ngo in Hanson Fong's Class

Lighting Model Hai Thi Ngo in Hanson Fong's Class

To attract our top-notch teachers like Jim DiVitale, John Woodward, Hanson Fong, Janice Wendt, and our newcomers — Joe Glyda and Tony Corbell, we use the financial subsidies offered by our sponsors. Without their full support, we can not make the seminars work for everyone.

Although there are alternatives, none are appealing.

We don’t want to go to larger, hotel room classes; the Hands-On Seminar series is built on the idea that small classes  in a working studio give the intimate, real experience that our students need and that the faculty finds rewarding. In our seminars, “hands-on” means hands-on.

Although $350.00 for a 2 day, intimate seminar with a star is more than reasonable, we don’t want to raise the tuition to cover the loss of sponsor money. We know the economy is affecting our students, too.

And, finally, we don’t want to seek new or “replacement” sponsors. Our sponsors have been with us since day one. They have been loyal and they deserve loyalty in return. They’ve told us they’ll be back when the economy improves and we will wait. Our main sponsor is watching each “quarter”. As soon as there is an upturn, our subsidy will come back and we’ll reinstate our schedule.

So, stay tuned. We’ll be back in the “star” seminar business, ASAP.

Interim Alternatives:

In the meantime, I’ll be teaching a series of seminars that replicate or advance on some of the topics we’ve covered in the past — things like the basics, metering, lighting (indoors and out) and some classes to allow those who have a solid foundation to apply that knowledge in “supervised shoots.”

Speaking of “supervised shoots”, I’ve had a lot of requests from students to help them apply the techniques they’ve learned in actual shoots. Soon, I’ll implement a “Come on in and shoot” program where students can rent me and my equipment, by the hour, bring their models, and shoot their hearts out. It will be a chance to create a body of work using state-of-the art equipment in a supportive setting.

Because I won’t be worrying about anyone else’s schedule, I can be a bit more flexible about what I teach and when. Have an idea? Email me.

Teaching is an important part of PrairieFire. We will go back to the full scale seminar series as soon as we can. Until then, we’ll keep the energy flowing with some new, small classes.

Thanks for the support. I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, soon.

Update: 30 Aug 2009

Last week, we had the first “Create Your Own Course” seminar. Photographer Tom Folger and Model Stephanie Vostry participated in a 4 hour shoot. For me, it was an incredible opportunity to teach two talented people in a 1:1 format. For Tom’s reaction and a few of the images from his shoot, click here. (Yes, that’s me — meter in hand — talking with Stephanie.) Thanks, Tom and Stephanie, it was fun.

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10 Responsesto “Update: Hands-On Seminars”

  1. Patty Fox says:

    Looks good, Steve. Hope your sponsor starts sponsoring again. Would love to take a Tony Corbell class.

    • prairiefire says:

      Thanks, Patty. Right now, most of the sponsor’s are just watching the economy. While they do, I’m exploring new ways to bring some of my friends in.

      In the mean time, I’m teaching private or small group seminars.

  2. Doug says:

    I still use my notes taken in Janice Wendt’s photo retouch seminar. That was just great. I see she now has a book on NIK software published Oct ’08. I assume this is the book she spoke of in our seminar. Have you seen it or any reviews of it? Here is the link I found.

    The NIK tools are so extensive, I need all of the references I can get!

    • prairiefire says:


      I’ve not seen the book — but I’ll try to get a copy for review.

      I’ve written about the Nik filters before — to me they are incredible — but a black hole. Start down that path and it’s is so creative you don’t want to come out.

      My daughter, Jenny, taught me how to learn software programs. She became very computer proficient at a very young age. When I asked how she learned things she said
      “I fiddle.”
      “Yes, I fiddle — I go through all the menus and try things.”

      So, now, I fiddle. I just play with things until I get a feeling for how they work.

      I’m hoping this Blog gets people talking substantively about things like books they read and programs they use.

      I really will try to build a supportive community.



      • Doug White says:

        Yep. The NIK software package absolutely is a black hole. Being an amateur, I had to think hard about $500 after paying for Janice’s class. I don’t regret either Janice’s class nor the purchase of the NIK software. I wonder if would be be such a fan on NIK if I had just bought the package and not seen how Janice used it. If we hadn’t taken the time to go back through some of those images with time to make notes, I would not be half as happy as I am today. She is a world class artist. She spoke of her progress on a book that covered these details. I’m hoping this is that book.

        • prairiefire says:

          I never understood the power of Color Efex Pro until I took Janice’s class. Her out-of-the-box use of filters is brilliant.

          Actually, all of the Nik software is very good. I love Viveza, and because Viveza is at the heart of the Nik developed Nikon NX2, I’m finding that I’m using NX2 a lot more and it is challenging ACR and Lightroom as my RAW processor of choice.

          I’ll be writing about all of these programs in future posts.

          Nik is a sponsor of this site. For those of you who want to try the programs, they have free trial offers. If you like them, they’ve made a discount available to our readers. Just go to the sponsors section and check it out.

    • prairiefire says:

      I just spoke with Janice, yesterday — and this is not her book!

      It’s a long story, but even though the web lists her as the author, she is not.

      I’m not sure that the book is available, now.

      Janice has agreed to post some tutorials, here. Stay tuned.


      • Doug says:

        Thanks for the update. I found a used copy of the book – delivered to my house for $8 – in excellent condition! It definitely is not Janice’s work but then again, I didn’t spend much either. I’m sure glad I didn’t spend $40 for it! What can we do to encourage her to write a book????

        I’m looking forward to a published tutorial from her. My notes have been used a ton.

        • prairiefire says:


          One of my long-term goals is to produce training videos. I’ll put parts of them up on this site and we will sell the full video’s for reasonable prices.

          Janice and I are collaborating on a video that will present her creative yet practical approach toward retouching. She is known to be one of the very best retouchers in the world and is looking forward to sharing her secrets with a wider audience.

  3. Last week, we had the first “Create Your Own Course” seminar. Photographer Tom Folger and Model Stephanie Vostry participated in a 4 hour shoot. For me, it was an incredible opportunity to teach two talented people in a 1:1 format. For Tom’s reaction and a few of the images from his shoot, go here:

    (Yes, that’s me — meter in hand — talking with Stephanie.)

    Thanks, Tom and Stephanie, it was fun.

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