ROI Baby: This Is Business

Sal Cincotta’s five-day wedding photography bootcamp which has been live on (CL) comes to an end today.  I’m going to miss Sal and his beautiful, lovely wife Taylor.

Sal’s the obvious alpha-male shooter but it’s Taylor who I wouldn’t cross in a dark alley 🙂 She’s sweet and pretty but she’s sassy (Sal’s term) and the real strength behind the man. They make a great husband and wife photo team and their styles compliment each other perfectly.

The videos from this five-day (and yes I’ve watched Sal and Taylor live now for four days) have been terrific . I’m watching the rebroadcast which CL does to accommodate viewers from other time zones and the live show starts again today at noon EST. We’re all old friends now 🙂

The cost of the course videos is $150 (this price rises once today’s show finishes) and if you’re thinking of shooting wedding photography or you’ve been shooting and you’re getting sick of starving to death shooting at $1,500 a wedding then paying out $150 for a five-day video course is a no-brainer.

So far this year I’ve bought four different workshop videos from CL and they are of great value. I’ve bought two on shooting and two on software (Lightroom and Photoshop) and I may buy another Photoshop workshop coming up in a few weeks.

Look attending a five-day workshop with anybody of Sal’s ability would cost you thousands to be in small live group setting. On CL you get the best instructors for peanuts and best of all with the videos you can re-watch the lesson anytime.

The overall quality of the videos (which you can burn to DVD) is very good. Sometimes the video streaming needs work (CL uses UStream and somedays are better than others and all of issues may not have anything to do these two companies) but the video downloads are perfect and can be downloaded in high or low resolution and burned to disc on your computer.

This online streaming workshop format from a teaching point of view is pretty good but IMHO opinion CL’s studio management team is interfering with the artistic process.

On the last three or four workshops I’ve viewed the artists have been complaining on camera often about the limitations being imposed on them by the CL stage director. On the last workshop the stage director was brought on camera as the artist had created such a fuss about being overly controlled that I suspect there was a near online riot.

How can you have an online riot?

The CL live workshops stream video in one window and simultaneously stream three separate chat windows. One window is for questions to the instructor. One window is for on-topic chat among chatters and the third window is for the CL Lounge and anything can (and often does) happen in the Lounge. Oh sometimes in the Lounge feelings get hurt or some idiot starts the Nikon vs Canon debate but really it’s all fun. The chatrooms will have between 500 to 1000 participants online during popular workshops. This is a whole new way of learning.

CL should take a page from open studio TV studios such as CITY-TV here in Toronto where everything is visible and there’s no attempt to become NBC. The VJs are young people and they make mistakes but it’s all so natural and approachable for young viewers. CL doesn’t have to go that loose but really guys once the talent starts complaining on camera you’ve got an issue that needs fixing.

It feels and looks very evident that CL is working to a formatted plan and they aren’t varying it but the heavy-handedness  is interfering with the customer enjoyment of the event.

The two young women who are the hosts (Susan and Kenna) are terrific. Both of them are very relaxed on camera and are a big help in keeping the workshop moving. They also show up  in the chat rooms and occasionally have time to message you directly. Very neat.

Often there’s a live studio audience of participants. Sometimes individuals are annoying in their mannerisms but other times the studio people are right on in asking for clarification on some issues.

Really though CL management needs to take a second look at how is they are treating the instructors. Look if they swear and the management thinks this is an issue, then bleep it out later. If an artist’s work includes a logo and there’s no issue with American copyright law then don’t Photoshop out the logo (They did this on one instructor’s work and it was ridiculously silly.) The CL management style shouldn’t be clashing so much with the artist’s way of working. If the artist needs to walk off camera to grab something, it’s a lot more fluid to let them walk off and back than to be standing there looking lost.

After all, when the video workshop is over, we buy the videos because we fell in love with artist and their process and not the CL management style.

BTW CL is going to make millions selling educational workshops. They just need to take a deep breath right now and realize this is early days.

We like you CL. We really do to paraphrase Sally Fields.


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