29 Take-Home Tips from the Two Worlds, One Dream Workshop

Two Days of Intense Study with Doug Gordon and Kevin Kubota

By Diane Berkenfeld

Photographers Doug Gordon and Kevin Kubota presented a special workshop called “Two Worlds, One Dream” on August 4-5, 2009 on Long Island, N.Y.


Photographer Doug Gordon lies on the ground below the bride and groom, shooting upward. Photographer Kevin Kubota is in the foreground, shooting the couple and crowd in the background. Most of the crowd are workshop attendees. Image ©Diane Berkenfeld

When it comes to technique, Gordon and Kubota are as far from each other as two people can be. Gordon’s studio is located in fast paced New York, Kubota’s is in tranquil Bend, Oregon; Kubota and his wife Claire are the sole photographers in their studio, Gordon employs a staff of shooters, salespeople, and digital imagers; Gordon poses everything, Kubota is a photojournalist; Gordon shoots everything in JPEG, Kubota captures images in RAW.

Over the course of two days, the power duo of Doug Gordon and Kevin Kubota imparted much of their technical, marketing and business wisdom to about 50 photographers who attended the workshop. Both classroom-like discussions as well as on-location shoots provided attendees with the opportunity to see how these two pros worked. From idyllic formal gardens to a neon-light-filled bowling alley; from a trip to New York City at night to a sunrise trash the dress shoot, those who attended learned how to pose and light a Bride and Groom in each of these situations. In the classroom, topics covered everything else, from business and marketing to a day filled with workflow tips and techniques, including Kubota showing off his workflow. 

Here are some of the best nuggets of wisdom, tips and techniques I picked up at the workshop.

10 to Remember:

1.   Open your mind.
2.   Do something different.
3.   Be spontaneous.
4.   Every impression counts, not just the first one.
5.   Let your work speak for itself.
6.   Timing is everything.
7.   Always keep your eyes peeled.
8.    “Our job as photographers is not to show the world as it is, but as we want it to be.” –An insight from the late Monte Zucker, repeated during the workshop.
9.    “You can put a price on a piece of photo paper, but you can never put a price on a moment.” –Kevin Kubota
10.  “You can do every pose under the sun, but if your lighting is wrong, you might as well have never shown up.” –Doug Gordon


One of the stops during the evening trip to New York City was the South Street Seaport. In the foreground are some of the workshop attendees. The bride has been lit in front by a Torchlight, with the light from the pier shining through her dress. Image ©Diane Berkenfeld

5 Technical Tips:

1.   Only use a gold reflector with tungsten light. Otherwise you’ll be messing up the white balance. Use a silver reflector with daylight, shade, and fluorescent lighting.
2.   When spot metering with the camera’s meter, use the exposure lock button, reframe and shoot. 
3.   Use your camera’s accessory flash to shoot through a large vertical diffuser to create window light. Turn the flash vertical so its shape is the same as the diffuser.
4.   Kevin Kubota’s Hide & Seek technique: To make images look more realistic, as if you just stumbled upon the moment, shoot through objects. Examples: shooting through a window or doorway, plant leaves, candelabra and place settings on a table.
5.   If you use a program such as Adobe Lightroom to view and edit images, make each job its own catalog, and archive a backup of the image catalog with the job files. If you put all images you’ve ever shot into one archive, it could eventually corrupt and you’ll lose everything. Also, thousands of images in one catalog can slow down the program, which will slow down your workflow.


Photographer Doug Gordon (left) gets right into the water with the bride to get the exact angle he wants for a trash-the-dress image. Image ©Diane Berkenfeld

Five things every pro should know:

1.    Learn keyboard shortcuts. This alone can greatly help you speed up your workflow.
2.    Cropping is everything.
3.    Tell a story with your photographs.
4.    Tilt the camera with a purpose. Don’t just tilt the camera for the sake of tilting it.
5.    Use the consultation to ask your clients questions. Learn about them so you can make better images for them.


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(L to R) Doug Gordon explains to the workshop group where he wants the bridal couple to look for the shot. Gordon shows the bride exactly how he wants her to stand, and is hands on with his posing so the couple has direction. Images ©Diane Berkenfeld

Doug Gordon’s 3 Basic Rules to Posing a Bride & Groom:   

1.  Tuck. With the couple facing you, tuck the bride’s back shoulder behind the groom’s back.
2.  Roll. Have the bride roll out her front shoulder. This will stretch the neckline and push out her chest.
3.  Lean. Then lean them forward. Although they may not feel as if the pose is natural, it will look natural in the photograph.


5 Marketing Tips: 

1.  The pictures that make money for a studio are the family photographs. Shoot all the combinations so you have more images to sell—not just to the bride and groom but also for the bride’s parents, the groom’s parents, grandparents, siblings, etc …
2.  If your clients insist on receiving the files, tell them they’ll get a DVD six months after their album is picked up so you can first sell them albums and extra prints.
3.  Offer your images for purchase on the Web. You’re losing out on potential sales if you don’t. You can’t rely solely on Web sales, but the ancillary sales made by guests can add up. You also need to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. Post the images by the time the wedding couple returns from their honeymoon.
4.  Give fellow vendors images of their work, to build relationships with these other businesses. You may receive referrals from these people in the future.
5.  Even if your website’s domain name is the name of your studio, you should also purchase the domain name for your own name so that if people do a browser search for your name, they will be directed to your studio’s website.



Kevin Kubota teaches workflow to a studio full of workshop attendees. The background is one of the walls of Gordon’s studio. Each wall has a different motif. Image ©Diane Berkenfeld

One great tip I learned at the Two Worlds, One Dream workshop:

1.  Make play dates with other photographers. Go shooting with others for fun, but make images for yourself. Especially when you’re in a creative funk.

Kubota Image Tools has announced a new creative photography workshop—Studio Success, from K to V—taking place at the Sugarbush Resort in picturesque Warren, Vt., October 26 - 27, 2009. Attendees will join professional photographers Kevin Kubota and Vicki and Jed Taufer for this intense 2-day workshop designed to help professional photographers fine-tune their creative and business skills to find success during tough economic times.

Attendees registering for this workshop before September 15, 2009 will automatically receive a $50 discount bringing the total investment to only $399. Cost to attendees registering after September 15, 2009 is $449. The price includes two full days of creative and business enhancing lessons, all program materials and delicious lunches. Space is limited.

Information and Registration


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Comments (3)

WE never shoot brides or even weddings. Shoot only: aerials; commercial;Real Estate shots for the past 35 years.
Would love to attend your workshop but fear lack of applicable material.
Please advise.
Many thanks.

Hate to be Johnny come lately, but here but this sounds like it must have been amazing. I've got many of Kevin's PS filters, but have never seen his work.


Love Kevin and Doug does great at posing but watch out for this torch light. I bought it for a very specific purpose and when it didn't perform they way I wanted I tried to return it. (WITHIN A WEEK) And they have a NO RETURN POLICY. Personally a product you buy over the internet with no ability to touch and feel and see what it can do is crazy to have a no return policy. Also, I think I saw something similar in the B&H catalog and they do allow returns.


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