mj 2 day workshop review

Among the e-mails I most often get from other photographers, I have received a handful of questions regarding my personal experience with both Spilled Milk Designs (my web designer) and Melissa Jill’s Workshop (the MJ 2 Day). The web redesign and the workshop experience are both hefty investements into your business, and I think it is awesome that so many people are doing their research before committing. I try to reply individually to these e-mails, but seem to always give the same advice. So, I thought it would make sense to consolidate my responses into a blog post instead. 

First up, my experience with Melissa Jill and the MJ 2 Day Workshop:

I did a lot of thinking and planning before committing to attend the MJ2Day Workshop in October 2009. I remember sitting at work scouring over every last inch of the information, calling my husband ONE.MORE.TIME. to confirm that it was ok for me to go and then feeling like I needed to breathe into a brown paper bag once I hit submit on my entry form.

When the workshop was over, I wrote a blog post recapping the workshop, but really didn’t insert any personal reflection into the post. Actually, at that point I’m not sure that I had much to draw on personally. My initial thoughts on my experience with the workshop were positive. I made some great friends and took home a ton of information and ideas that I wanted to implement. A year-and-a-half later, I can honestly look back and say that attending the workshop was a turning point in my business. I was in the perfect position to gain the most from Melissa’s workshop. I been in business for about a year, but still had so much to learn. Until that point I had been chugging along, making trial and error decisions that were slowly beginning to shape what my business would become. Melissa’s candid advice and practical industry tactics took the guesswork out of my approach and catapulted me leaps and bounds ahead of where I had been when trying to do it on my own. I had enough real-life portrait and wedding experience for the scenarios and practical information she gave to make sense, and I was able to mentally apply the information in a hindsight kind-of way. But I wasn’t so far along in my journey to have been through everything that we covered or to have realized the potential in certain situations. Does that make sense?

I had so many “Duh!” moments during the workshop. Simple things like educating your clients on how to make the most of their photography experience or writing thank you cards make SO much sense, but had completely escaped me until then. And big things like back-lighting and using off-camera flash at receptions suddenly didn’t seem too complicated to tackle. In fact, those two concepts are a big part of how I shoot now! There are a lot of topics Melissa touched on that I still want to work toward — like my relationships with vendors and lightening fast turn-around. But I suppose that will all come in due time.


If you are considering attending the MJ 2 Day workshop, drop me a line. I’m happy to elaborate if you have specific questions. But thinking this may help, I pulled these questions from an actual e-mail that I received from someone wanting to know about my experience at the workshop.

Did you think it was worth the money?

At the time, I was still in the beginning stages of growing my business. The cost of the workshop, plus airfare to/from Birmingham, hotel accomodations and a rental car was not exactly chump change for me. However, my girlfriends and I turned the trip to Phoenix into a little mini vacation by heading out a few days early. That experience alone would have made it worth it to me! But the sheer amount of information I took away from the workshop and the benefits it has had toward my business makes it worth the money several times over! In fact, every time Melissa announces new workshop dates, I secretly wish I could go take a refresher course!

When I attended Melissa Jill’s workshop in 2009, she was only holding them at her home in Phoenix. More recently, she has expanded to other cities around the country including two upcoming workshops in Columbus, Ohio and Boulder, Colorado. So if the cost involved in the travel to Phoenix was a deterrent before, now there is no excuse!

Did you get out of it what you wanted?

I’m not really sure that I went into the workshop “expecting” anything more than to learn from an experienced industry peer. I was interested in the shooting aspects, but it was exploring the business topics that really drew me in. I had enough experience on my own to know that there wasn’t some magic secret that would instantly make me successful. I went in with realistic expectations and do think I got the most I possibly could from the information provided. And honestly, I haven’t signed up for another workshop since because I am afraid I’ll be disappointed in the outcome. Melissa’s workshop was so comprehensive that a one-day workshop on branding or workflow would be such a let down to me…

What was most useful about it for you?

This one is hard because there isn’t just one thing. I took so much of the information Melissa poured into us and immediately put it to use in my own business. The points I highlighted above are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of what I took away. My approach to client relations, social media, workflow, everything, is different because of what Melissa shared. It really did change my entire perspective. Amanda Pair Photography is a completely different business than it used to be and this workshop is one of the biggest reasons why!

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Brooke Amanda this post cracks me up… I just confirmed my spot in the workshop and felt like I was going to keel over when I did. Excitement and nerves – spending THAT MUCH money?! I’m so excited though. Thank you for your information!February 17, 2011 – 3:16 pm

Rachel I loved the MJ workshop! Your blog post says it all! :)February 15, 2011 – 9:07 pm

Mark Andrew Photographer Thanks for the review. I’d love to go spend a couple of days with Melissa out in AZ!February 14, 2011 – 11:18 am

Allison Yes! I agree! I love that so many of us have been inspired her workshop!February 11, 2011 – 2:27 pm

Jimmy Thanks for posting this Amanda. This was a great post. I looked at the information on her workshops a little while back and really hope I get the chance to attend someday!February 10, 2011 – 8:30 pm

stephanie d I agree! I loved the MJ2Day! Amanda, thank you for answering my email a few months back when I was picking your brain about the workshop. Melissa is a fabulous person, photographer and business lady! No regrets here!February 10, 2011 – 2:39 pm

Tina Amen – MJ 2 Day was one of the BEST investments I made when starting out my business. Wish we would have been at the same one!February 10, 2011 – 1:40 pm

Hosting MJ2Day | Kirsten Leah Photography […] a good idea of how fabulous it will be by reading about a previous attendee’s experience. CLICK HERE to read a post from Amanda’s perspective. I’d highly recommend reading it if you’re interested in attending. There are still […]February 17, 2011 – 11:51 am