So, Imaging USA went down.  We missed it in order to experience the thresholds of awesome at WPPI.  We asked a few peeps to take notes, send an article, and review their experience.  Mary Dougherty, Virginia wedding photographer, obliged.

 Below, she reviews Jose Villa ‘s seminar.  If you don’t know Jose Villa, a quick course:

1.) He shoots all film.

2.) That little magazine response card that I sent in to renew my PDN subscription — it had Jose’s PDN cover on it.

3.) He shot Jessica Claire ‘s wedding earlier this year, making blog stalkers all over the world go crazy.

4.) Again, he shoots all film.  Score one for simplicity. 


I, like many other people, have fallen in love with the work of Jose Villa. The intrigue of film, simplicity of composition, softness of color, and beauty of the light in each picture have not only gained him popularity, but they have rightfully create a niche market for him as a photographer. It is this specific style that Villa has down to a science, and it didn’t happen by accident. Seeing himself as an art director and impacting the decisions that go in to the wedding allow Villa to photograph in a specific style and capture the images he is known for. In the hour and a half that Villa presented at Imaging USA he gave us a inside look at how he evolved his business into what it is today.

Villa explained that he got his start in weddings the way most photographers do - shooting for a friend. From there, the rest was history as he explained - something most photographers couldn’t relate with but could envy. He came back down to everyone’s level as he referenced shooting in early days, photographing a wedding because he needed the job only to become completely bored of the hours of flash photography he was to endure during the reception. His solution now is to end after the cake cutting, unless contracted otherwise. This was just one of the insights he shared as he explained that his style of photography is based on shooting not only what he enjoys, but what he is good at.

What he is good at are the airy open landscapes, soft light and muted tones that compose his simple and romantic images. These are the images that he shares with everyone, and the images that bring clients to him. Yet we all know that where people see the images are just as important as what they look like. Starting out, Villa paid for advertising in magazines, yet his response was people calling to see who did the flowers or who made the shoes. The tables have turned and he now submits regularly to blogs and magazines where he is often paid to have his work featured. He took everyone through his process of submitting images (on a disc, with a contact sheet), outlining some of the publications he is often featured in and encouraging everyone to get their work out there as well. To the unpublished, getting images published can be daunting but more attainable than you think… at least in Villa’s opinion, and that’s an opinion I’ll listen to.

So how does one of the top ten wedding photographers in the world approach day to day business? It was clear that simplicity is the backbone of Villa’s world. Working with film dictates his work flow, and allows him to dedicate time to shooting and not editing. Second to simplicity is consistency, as he has developed a style that he applies to each situation, although he doesn’t leave situations up to chance. If you are cleaning up dressing rooms and moving around furniture to compose the shot that you want, you’re not alone. Villa has done what other Imaging USA speakers preached, and has created a brand of photography that is unique to him.

I came in wanting to be Villa and I left wanting to be myself.

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Mary!  Oh, and if you want to be the first to know when ye olde Lightroom Presets hit, use the form below to get on the LR mailing list! 


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