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  #1  
Old May 12th, 2007, 02:03 AM
Nikolai Sklobovsky Nikolai Sklobovsky is offline
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Default Wedding Photographer Bootcamp (US 10 city tour)

This original thread has been split into three parts:

1. If you are actually interested in the Shay Stevens Wedding Workshop and have questions then post here! OPF neither supports not promotes this but it appears like a great opportunity for the prepared and dedicated photographer!

2. If you are interested in the ethics of becoming a Wedding Photographer by whatever means you can, look here

3. Below we discuss the idea of the photos you take at a workshop!


Using a Professional Wedding Workshop to build up one's portfolio.

Sure the model is beautiful and the make up, dress and hair are great and the lighting magical, but is it your picture? But you did after all, shoot at your chosen aperture and angle so, of course, that does represent your work! Or not? Asher



I thought I'd share this ad from the other forum I attend frequently:
-----
Join Shay Stephens in this 4 day intensive wedding photography workshop for photographers new to wedding photography or who just want to get to the next level.

Just a Part of this workshop taking photographs with models:
  • [Shoot a ceremony in a real church with models or actors dressed in stunning bridal attire

  • A photojournalistically inspired portrait session with the bride and groom in a beautiful park setting

  • The church and park photos you take can be used on your website and portfolio/

I can't think of a better way to start one's wedding portolio.
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; July 13th, 2007 at 06:04 PM.
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  #2  
Old July 12th, 2007, 03:15 AM
Scott B. Hughes Scott B. Hughes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikolai Sklobovsky View Post
I can't think of a better way to start one's wedding portolio.
I'm not dissing the workshop, but how about building the book based on the photographer's own work created at actual weddings with real brides/grooms in the real time situations which are weddings.

I have some totally killer images of model 'brides' which resulted from various seminars but there is no way could/would I claim or try to rationalize that any of it to be my own work.
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  #3  
Old July 12th, 2007, 03:41 AM
Paul Bestwick Paul Bestwick is offline
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Hey Scott,

concur 100%. How can it be a wedding portfolio. You have not created the images, they were not shot under the high pressure reality of a wedding.
I would regard that type of portfolio as a misrepresentation of the shooters skill. The unfortunate part of our industry is that every second owner of a DSLR suddenly is under some false impression that they can shoot at a professional level.
To cite my own experience. I studied at a photography college for 2 years, assisted for no charge on the weekend for another 2 years & then started out on my own. Photographers post their images on the net & are told how wonderful they are. Mostly they are of a very poor standard. The commentators have no more clue than the shooter.
Asher, who likes to tread gently & encourage, is probably going to freak when he reads this.......but..... Consider this. I am not speaking without experience. I have been shooting weddings since the early 90's. I have heard the stories of the disappointed bride who trusted their wedding photos to the type of photographer I refer to.
Imagine someone interested in medicine & having some small knowledge & attending a seminar........ you can figure the rest.
Do you think my opinion is unfair ? Well I bet you that it is the unspoken thought of many wedding pros out there. So you can look at it two ways. You can regard me as an arrogant outspoken Bast.... or you may just see it as a pros view of the state of the wedding photography industry.
I am fairly protected from that type of photgraphy as I pitch to the top of the market. In one sense, these people do me a favour .... go figure.

Cheers,

Paul

Last edited by Paul Bestwick; July 12th, 2007 at 04:15 AM.
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  #4  
Old July 12th, 2007, 08:08 AM
Kathy Rappaport Kathy Rappaport is offline
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I am attending the seminar - I am building a portfolio but not with the shots of the event. Here in the Los Angeles area, in order to get wedding work, you have a ton of competition. You do have to have some work to show - even as a 2nd shooter. You can do "Craigslist weddings - for free".

So to get the experience of shooting a bride, you gotta practice some how. They do it at the WPPI show, the PPA has similar. This one also includes a great deal on PP and business side of wedding photography.
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Old July 12th, 2007, 08:49 AM
Angelica Oung Angelica Oung is offline
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I'm with Kathy...photographers gotta start somewhere. Going the "apprentice" route is one way, going with workshops (and a lot of hard work on one's own) is another. Of course, one would be deluded if one thinks that a 4 day workshop will magically turn a novice into a pro, but I don't think that's the attitude of a lot of the people there. You certainly cannot accuse Kathy of not paying her dues.
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Old July 12th, 2007, 10:56 AM
Kathy Rappaport Kathy Rappaport is offline
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Default Thanks, Agnela

Thanks, Angelica.

Yes, years of hard work to get my photography skills up. Many, many seminars, classes, tutoring sessions. Thousands of dollars of gear. Insurance - both liability and casualty. Hours of study. Practice and practice.

I cannot see the difference in doing wedding formals and environmental portraiture. It's really the same. The latest 'journalistic" approach to weddings does require a knowledge of lighting, and yes, involves some pressure to get it right as well as being in the right time and place. Understanding the timeline to do that. AS well as the people skills to make that happen too.

When there is a person who buys a dSLR and puts it in automatic, goes out and shoots a wedding and calls themselves a professional, that is sad and gives those of us whi earn the title Professional a bad name.
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  #7  
Old July 12th, 2007, 10:57 AM
Edward Bussa Edward Bussa is offline
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There is honesty and there is arrogance.

You make some good points and some debatable points. However, for me, arrogance is about tone. I have a sense from your post that you perhaps want to cross that line, but overall, your post seems honest.

Personally, I know there are many pros on this forum and that is why I post at OPF. If I want to grow I know these are the people I need to hear from. So, lacking a formal education in photography, I consider OPF part of my education and ABSOLUTELY want to hear from pros such as yourself. So, let me thank you for being honest!
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  #8  
Old July 12th, 2007, 11:48 AM
Nikolai Sklobovsky Nikolai Sklobovsky is offline
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Well, for what it's worth...

First of all, it's a workshop. Which means it's an event when the attendees are supposed to learn something. Which suggests that they think they don't know it all yet. Or maybe know pretty much nothing but want to learn. Why even start talking in the direction "oh, this is a workshop, they are all damn rookies who think they will be able to shoot like us pros"? And if so, why not also diss all the schools, and colleges, and conferences, and seminars? They are all damn rookies...

But people got to start somewhere. What would you prefer, honestly: me spending my own money on a model and a class that has no effect on you whatsoever - or me taking what could be YOUR wedding and doing it for free, since I don't have any other way to learn?

Second, it's not only about shooting a bride, be it under stress or not. It's also about the ropes. Being able to learn in a couple of days what otherwise can be learned in years, with so many mistakes - I say it's well worth the money.

Of course, those of us who shoot weddings professionally on a weekly basis may not benefit from it as much as those who has only a handful weddings under their belts (or even none). But I don't really see why there is a need to dismiss the value of such an educational event.

It's about learning, and learning is good.
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  #9  
Old July 12th, 2007, 12:50 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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I agree with Nikolai, such courses can help the person transitioning from portraits or other competent work to the wedding business.

I agree with your caution Ed! The world is full of hucksterism and "snake-oil" salesmen, who claim to be able to make you succeed.

Here's my rule:

Approaching new artistic craft: Courses, DVD's and other commercial offerings
  1. Choose an artistic craft that you already feel you can enjoy.
  2. Make yourself a 3 ring binder scrap book for your notes and to develop detailed protocols and check off lists for everything you want to do and how you do it. Add to it detailed protocols, budgets, consents and licenses that you might find helpful but don't get into the details of any of them right now. You don't want to be distracted.
  3. Find examples of work output by established artists craftsworkers or creators thrill you? If so examine the work and see if you can define what it is you like in each work.
  4. Create for yourself a small test project, then repeat, each time with a and new challenge and post-project assesment. If we don't formalize our self-criticism, we risk losing hard-earned lessons!
  5. Only reward yourself a new course if you already have invested effort in mastering what is taught.

    For example, to write a play,
    • get a few scripts,
    • read them,
    • write your idea down in bullet points,
    • write a treatment with some voices,
    • write out a scene with what happens, what people feel, but no voices,
    • read it out aloud,
    • correct it,
    • rewrite it,
    • read it out loud,
    • correct it,
    • add voices that have been bursting to be heard
    • go to the next scene.
  6. When a major part of your new project finished, put it away for a month come back to it.
    • What do you now think?
    • Does it move you?
    • Are you enthralled? Why not?
    • What problems are you having? List them!
    • See if you can find solutions yourself in great classical examples of that art form.
  7. After doing this then you have earned one course. Now repeat the process before you pay for another course!

The same with Wedding photography.
  1. Make a scrap book of images that you admire.
  2. Talk to wedding photographers, engaged couples, brides and look at albums, but don't attend any course.
  3. Do small events pro bono on your own say for a charity or church and again make notes.
    • How much time did it take?
    • Did the pictures turn out O.K.
    • Did you deliver what was expected and on time?
  4. Now do several weddings with a Pro. Make notes.
  5. Do several wedding jobs yourself (with, if possible, an experienced assistant) and reserves of all equipment.
    • Have a post-event assessment.
    • Where did you do well and what was missing?
  6. Now take a course.

That's my way of approaching new artistic craft.

Otherwise you can become a course junkie and there are gurus ready to take your money, sell you DVD's that they make you think you need!

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; July 12th, 2007 at 02:06 PM.
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  #10  
Old July 12th, 2007, 01:12 PM
Nikolai Sklobovsky Nikolai Sklobovsky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Here's my rule:
....
Only reward yourself a new course if you already have invested effort in mastering what is taught.....

Asher
I totally agree! As with almost anything, doing your homework FIRST will greatly benefit yourself (and the others). Best case, you may educate yourself totally up to the point that you don't need the workshops at all.

I did that with PS, but my homework took 2-3 years, a dozen of books and numerous tutorials. I wasn't in the rush, though:-). Besides, no single workshop could possibly cover all those things I learned. I'm still learning, but my ROI from any PS workshop nowadays would be abysmal..

However, this one is more on a business/practical side and for a much more limited subject. Besides, as I mentioned, I know Shay personally and know his work. He's a lots of fun, he's great artist, he's computer savvy (how many pro photogs here do Linux-based workflow here?;-) and he's a businessman, which is a kinda unique mix that speaks very closely to me.
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  #11  
Old July 12th, 2007, 03:35 PM
Scott B. Hughes Scott B. Hughes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikolai Sklobovsky View Post
But I don't really see why there is a need to dismiss the value of such an educational event.
It's not the "value" I question, it's the lack of ethics being promoted.

The advertisement you posted states that is is OK for the attendee to use the results of the shoots on their website and portfolio. Does the author of the ad not understand 'ethics'? Makes you wonder what is being taught in the 'busness' portion of the workshop.

If one is to be honest about themselves and their work, how can they present to prospective clients images which resulted from a workshop as their own? It simply is not their own creation. Paying $2000 does not make it so.

Of course, everyone has to start somewhere. How about going out as an assistant? Observe, grip, assist... maybe be let loose as a second shooter eventually.

In the US, there is not an organized educational system for this industry, but the real world, hands on "assistant" route is the closest thing we have. Apprentice. As if it matters, that is paying dues.
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  #12  
Old July 12th, 2007, 04:28 PM
Nikolai Sklobovsky Nikolai Sklobovsky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott B. Hughes View Post
It's not the "value" I question, it's the lack of ethics being promoted.

The advertisement you posted states that is is OK for the attendee to use the results of the shoots on their website and portfolio. Does the author of the ad not understand 'ethics'? Makes you wonder what is being taught in the 'busness' portion of the workshop.

If one is to be honest about themselves and their work, how can they present to prospective clients images which resulted from a workshop as their own? It simply is not their own creation. Paying $2000 does not make it so.

Of course, everyone has to start somewhere. How about going out as an assistant? Observe, grip, assist... maybe be let loose as a second shooter eventually.

In the US, there is not an organized educational system for this industry, but the real world, hands on "assistant" route is the closest thing we have. Apprentice. As if it matters, that is paying dues.
Scott,
apparently I'm missing your points.

First, calling one of the largest countries in the world "unreal" does not sit very well with the feeling of the international community we're trying to build here at OPF. For me, a person living in US, it's as real as it gets.

Which brings me to my next point. You're saying yourself there is no established institute of apprenticeship here. So, what a poor guy to do? Take a slow-boat to that real world of yours instead of driving a couple of hours to the next city here in Wonderland?

Third and most important. You're directly implying Shay is dishonest person and everybody who attends this event and then dare to use images for the self promotion are dishonest too. Well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I simply say this is not true and I personally do not appreciate these implications.

Cheers! :-)
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  #13  
Old July 12th, 2007, 04:29 PM
Kathy Rappaport Kathy Rappaport is offline
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Default Not around here

Scott,

I cannot tell you how many photographers I have approached to apprentice, second shoot etc.
Many fear that they will be giving up something for having an apprentice.
Even to do that, they want a portfolio of work.

However, in a workshop setting you can have a book of work to submit. If you are honest with where the submission came from - that is where the ethics are.
One thing I could do to gain that portfolio is to go to the beautiful venue by my house and shoot away. A real wedding and a real bride and groom. The photographer won't know me and the B&G might assume I am the photog assistant. That's not ethical. But it's done all the time.

I just shot a wedding for a friend. Shots came out great. She is happy. My portfolio for that was my portrait work. At the WPPI convention and workshops, I met with a bunch of photographers. Asked their opinions.
When you are over 50 and you have 35 years of photography experience (yes, I was shooting 35mm flim in 1971) it's kinda moot to be someone's assistant because you have changed the subject you are shooting. I have 30 years of business and marketing experience but the application to wedding and event requires some tweeking.

There is not one single road to getting where you want to be. It's that you get there doing things the right way and have paid your dues to be there.
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  #14  
Old July 12th, 2007, 05:13 PM
Scott B. Hughes Scott B. Hughes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikolai Sklobovsky View Post
Scott,
apparently I'm missing your points.
I agree.

-Scott
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  #15  
Old July 12th, 2007, 06:00 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Guys,

Let's not imply disrespect! I know Nikolai and he is very committed to his photography and has worked har to acquire his skills and always push the envelope.

I know Kathy and her work too. Each of them will go to the workshop and take back their own experience. It will not bankcrupt them if the workshop is less than wonderful. They will still get value. Maybe worth $400 or who knows, pricelss.

I'm sure that without hard work and attention to some of what I have outlined above, the course will not help them much at all. Even if someone presented work as their own, without explaining more, then one or two weddings would show what they are really capable of and the word will spread, good or bad.

There is not one path.

This is not a replacement for being a grip, asisstant or second shooter.

However, everyone is in a different position their life.

I am sure Kathy, for example will have the means to get out of this course what sahe needs and then add this to her skills and knowledge an do a good job.

For someone else this might be a sheer waste of time and money!

Asher
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  #16  
Old July 12th, 2007, 06:12 PM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
I'm sure that without hard work and attention to some of what I have outlined above, the course will not help them much at all.
Indeed, without foundation for reflection, everything tends to look as the ultimate gospel.

Bart
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Old July 12th, 2007, 08:17 PM
Edward Bussa Edward Bussa is offline
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I can understand why it could be said that images from the workshop are not a wholly created work by the respective photographer.

On the other hand, a photographer's pictures from a real wedding are not a wholly created work by the photographer either. It is quite possible, based on the description of the seminar, that each photographer is tasked with shooting a wedding ceremony of their own. For this seminar, the ceremony would be repeated 10 times, once for each photographer with his fellow attendees watching his every move. I think I'd call that pressure.

Sure, there are the intangible things that a wedding photographer must do to succeed, but I'm thinking a seminar done in this fashion would be a suitable simulation of a real wedding and if the images created are of high caliber, how are they not an indication of the photographer's ability?

Seriously, I'm asking. I am ethically conflicted in this. I think I would want to use these images from the seminar as a part of my portfolio. I would also want to maintain high ethical standards.

How could and/or should these images be presented with full disclosure?
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Old July 12th, 2007, 08:56 PM
Kathy Rappaport Kathy Rappaport is offline
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Default Same way

Ed,

I liked how you phrased your questions. I answer honestly. The majority of the courses and workshops I have taken have been designed for people who are not amatuers and are seeking to improve their photography skills as a professional. Most require a portfolio be submitted to gain entry to the course. Look at the class schedule for The Santa Fe Workshops. (www.santafeworkshops.com) - Top notch world class instructors who are professional working photographers.

Scenario One: I have taken classes and photos from those classes had no instruction in the generation and creativity of the image. Yet they were taken during a class/workshop. I went out and shot the photo. Set up the lighting. Set up the setting. Picked the subject. All mine. My eye, my camera, my gear. Why would that not be my photo to use in my portfolio?

Second scenario: Lighting workshop with Douglas Kirkland at the Julia Dean Workshops. Two days. Day one High Key Lighting. Models. All the equipment belonged to the workshop. We got pocket wizards and 15 mintues with each model. Assistants set up lights. Basically, we just did what they said. We posed the models. Nothing more. Incredible shots set up by a world class photographer. Makeup Artists. Models. - Not mine. Not in my portfolio at all.

Third Scenario: Same workshop. Beach shots. Same models. Instructor demonstrated natural light set ups. We each had a model in pairs. We set up our own shots. Used our own reflectors. Went away from the instructors. Did our own thing. We posed and wardrobed the models. Set our own scenes. I did that by myself. Actually, for me, the instruction that day was a waste of time. Yes, I have those shots in my portfolio. I use them. And I tell people the scenario in which they were shot. Full disclosure. Even on my website where they are hosted it says "Lighting Workshop with Douglas Kirkland"

I think if you disclose you are doing the ethical thing. It's when you hide it and try to pretend it's a wedding you shot that there is an issue. In the wedding business, there are different levels and qualities of wedding photographer. There are the studios which hire the kids right out of two year colleges. There are seasoned pros who do middle of the road middle class weddings - old style. Maybe they are doing backyard weddings and local church stuff. And there are high end artists. There is room in all the markets for each type of photographer. What ever brand you choose for yourself, you still need to do the best of your ability.

One of the wedding photographers I spent some time with and asked if I could assist him offered me this advice: Good Enough is Good Enough. He'd been shooting weddings for 40 years. I don't want to shoot Good Enough. I want to shoot the best I possibly can and I want to learn to do the best that there is. And that is why without a college degree in Photography I will succeed!
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Old July 12th, 2007, 11:37 PM
Paul Bestwick Paul Bestwick is offline
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Asher has moved the contentious part of this discussion to Wedding & Event.

Moral & Ethical.

Cheers,

PB
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  #20  
Old July 13th, 2007, 09:49 AM
Paul Bestwick Paul Bestwick is offline
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just looked at the guys work. You guys are paying to get him to teach you ???. Save your bucks.

PB
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  #21  
Old July 13th, 2007, 11:28 AM
Nikolai Sklobovsky Nikolai Sklobovsky is offline
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Originally Posted by Paul Bestwick View Post
just looked at the guys work. You guys are paying to get him to teach you ???. Save your bucks.

PB
As long as Shay is not here, I'll speak for myself: it's my time and money, and it's not anybody else's business how I want to spend them. I happen to like his work. It's an art, you know, tastes differ.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 08:13 PM
Paul Bestwick Paul Bestwick is offline
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yea fair enough. No doubt you will learn something. I am sure he has something worthwile to offer.
There are areas of photography that I would like to learn more about. It is difficult to develop a skill without guidance & a helping hand.
Enjoy,

Paul

I have long looked at the vast number of educational opportunities you have access to in the USA. You are very fortunate. If I lived in America I would be a course junkie.
Everything from Photoshop, to modelling.............cool. My advice to you, find the best courses & do them. As many as you can.
Good luck for the course.

Cheers,

Paul

Last edited by Paul Bestwick; July 13th, 2007 at 09:13 PM.
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  #23  
Old July 13th, 2007, 11:01 PM
Nikolai Sklobovsky Nikolai Sklobovsky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Bestwick View Post
...It is difficult to develop a skill without guidance & a helping hand....
Yessir, it is. Some areas one can do almost on his own, with the books and stuff, but some definitely require a guide...
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