In cased you missed one of our posts, here are all five parts of United Week in one place:

Part 1: Serving Others 
Part 2: Sharing Our Gifts 
Part 3: Celebrating New Photographers
Mock Engagement Shoot: Photos
Mock Engagement Shoot: Behind the Scenes

At the beginning of every school year, when we were Mr. and Mrs. Demos, the fourth and fifth grade husband and wife teaching team in neighboring classrooms, we used to arrive back to school a week before summer break ended to decorate our classrooms. True to Arizona tradition, Amy’s classroom had a western theme. “Wanted” posters, cactus cutouts, and pictures of cowboys covered the walls. Jordan’s fifth grade room was probably like your fifth grade room, an ode to the Stars and Stripes, an American wonderland of red, white, and blue.

One of the things we loved most about teaching was taking things that we’d known for years, that’d become second nature to us, and presenting them to our students for the very first time. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of watching pupils have “light bulb” moments, when everything “just clicks,” and you know it’s because you either introduced something to them for the first time, or said it in a new way that finally made sense.

The difference, of course, between elementary school students and adults, is that instead of having those moments every once in a while, adults have them every few minutes. It’s like watching stage lights turn on from all different directions. Pop. Pop. Pop. 

When we think about our career and how far we’ve been able to come (and there’s still a long way to go, by the way), we’re reminded of all the photographers who had what Dave Ramsey calls “the heart of a teacher,” the people whose blogs we stalked, who mentored us in person, and who taught online classes, too. All of their collective impressions on us has made us the photographers and businesspeople we are, and we could never repay them in the way they deserve to be repaid, because our life, what we get to do every single day for “work,” is beyond anything we could’ve ever imagined, and we know that we would’ve never gotten there without their help. So, what do you do with that? How do you go about repaying something that can’t be repaid? It’s simple, really. You pay it forward.

This week, at United 2014, we volunteered to lead a two-hour mock engagement shoot for 20 photographers. We almost passed out when 40 showed up, because we’d never done anything like this before, let alone with that many people following us around like a herd of sheep! We almost felt sick the night before because we were so nervous with anticipation. Will anyone learn ANYTHING from us? What if we waste people’s time? Will we be able to work with our models, get great shots, AND teach at the same time? The list went on and on, but we just decided to do the very best we could, think out loud the entire shoot, hold nothing back, and exhaust brains and bodies hoping to help at least one person learn one new thing — and it went better than we could’ve ever expected.

Once the shoot actually started, we felt so comfortable and natural in front of that many people than we could’ve predicted. It was an adrenaline rush, a sort of euphoric feeling to known without out a doubt that this is what were were created to do. It was just like being in the classroom again, only better, because we were ON THE BEACH! We felt so energized by our 40 newest friends. They were all so encouraging that we couldn’t have asked for a better first run with on-location teaching. They were oozing with positivity, laughter, and awesome questions. After the shoot and during the rest of the week, a few photographers even told us that our class was one of the highlights of their entire conference experience! We felt so honored every time someone said that because the list of amazing speakers and teachers at this place was UNREAL. We had so much fun with our crew.

On Tuesday, we shared our photos of Matt and Alexa, so today, we thought it would be fun for you to see what was going on behind-the-scenes.

Alexa and Matt were the PERFECT models for our beach-themed shoot. They rocked southern California style with ease, laughed constantly, and, of course, had windblown hair that looked good in every single frame. They made it appear that they were the only two people on the planet…

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But in reality, THIS was their view! We made quite the scene on the beach, but Alexa and Matt handled the overwhelming number of cameras like pros. 

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We loved watching everyone shoot, check the backs of their screens, and smile. Boom! Nailed it! 

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LOVE this shot of Amy leading the pack… and, Trevor, the photo bomber in the black coat behind her right shoulder. We cropped off his head as a warning to future Amy & Jordan workshop attendees that photo bombing will not be taken lightly 😉

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Since Amy took lead on the shoot, Jordan was able to work with individual photographers in the back, answering their questions as the shoot was going on, and helping them make mid-course corrections with immediate feedback to improve their shots.

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We demonstrated posing, showed how we interacted with our clients, and then gave our crew an opportunity to shoot away.

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We also made sure to stop along the way to explain why we do the things we do, and how we help our clients rock it in front of the camera. 

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Our group was so much fun and we never got very far without a playful exchange.

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When the models went to the car for their outfit change, we took questions and demonstrated some posing techniques… and then everyone turned their cameras ON US! It felt like a circular firing squad of l-o-v-e.

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We grabbed one quick group shot together as the sun was setting. Some people had already headed back to get ready for that night’s gala, so if you’re not in this picture, we’re sorry! You were with us in spirit 🙂 We had so much fun hanging with this awesome group of photographers, and feel blessed to have so many new friends!

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Our students might not be children anymore and our classroom might not have a whiteboard, desks, and chairs, but, deep down, we still feel the same rush of happiness we get helping others be the best they can be.

A special thanks to our dear friend, Andrew, for capturing so many of the behind-the-scenes shots above. You’re sneaky, dude!

Also, a very special thanks to a few photography companies who not only make great products that we use on every shoot, but who donate awesome giveaways for photographers every time we teach! We’re so thankful for their support of us and their commitment to helping photographers grow! If you haven’t checked out these companies before, you need to! Click the links below to see who they are and what products we use all the time to get the very best for our clients!

Black Rapid Camera Strap // ExpoDisc White Balance Filter // KISS Wedding Albums // Think Tank Airport Security Bag

10 comments

    Cinnamon Wolfe

    love it!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Thanks, Cinnamon!

    Kristi McKeag

    Amy + Jordan!! You two are the absolute BEST and I will forever remember this session!! You two are amazing "teachers" and so much fun!! Can't wait for many more memories and to get to know you two more!! Do we have to wait another whole year?? :-)

    Kristi McKeag

    Amy + Jordan!! You two are the absolute BEST and I will forever remember this session!! You two are amazing "teachers" and so much fun!! Can't wait for many more memories and to get to know you two more!! Do we have to wait another whole year?? :-)

    Amy & Jordan

    We feel the same way about you! Ugh! We wish United would come around quarterly so we could see everyone sooner :-)

    Amy & Jordan

    Thanks, Cinnamon!

    Amy & Jordan

    We feel the same way about you! Ugh! We wish United would come around quarterly so we could see everyone sooner :-)

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    Amy & Jordan

    We're so glad this was helpful!