Love Your Work Again on the Power of Passion Tour

One of our own Smuggers, Dustin Bess, is on the road with Sandy Puc and Gerry Ghionis on their Power of Passion Tour. Here’s what he’s got to say about this incredible experience.

As photographers we are constantly called on to draw on our creative process to create compelling images. Being in this position where so much creativity is needed, one can often experience burnout and fatigue and start to wonder,

“Do I really love what I am doing anymore?”

As part of my work for SmugMug I have been traveling the country with Sandy Puc and Jerry Ghionis as they take their Power of Passion Tour across America.  I joined up with them on March 13 in Phoenix, AZ, and caught my first glimpse of the show.

I was completely blown away by the power of this event.

The Business of Photography

I have been following Sandy since January of 2010 when I started shooting with the charity Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which she cofounded. After meeting Sandy at WPPI last year and getting a chance to know her, I was even more impressed with all of her accomplishments and immense knowledge.  Sandy isn’t just a photographer, she is a true business woman and it shows in even the shortest of conversations with her. In Phoenix, as I listened to her talk about business and marketing, the things she was saying made so much sense, yet one is left with the thought “why didn’t I think of that?”.

Photographers often neglect the business side of their photography business.  I personally know amazing photographers who still struggle with bookings, not because they lack skills in the camera, but because they lack skills of getting people through their doors in the first place.

Sandy knows how to get people into her studio and this is what she is teaching at the event (among many other things).

Passion and Emotion in Photography

I had heard Jerry’s name before joining him on the tour, but must admit that I didn’t know much about him or his work.  I really didn’t know what I was missing.  As I sat through that first show and watched his images come up, I was in complete awe.  I watched him pull random strangers from the audience and evoke emotion out of them that I have never seen from even my closest clients. I knew I was sitting in the presence of a true master of the craft.  Jerry has this ability to connect with people through simple words and it is truly remarkable to watch. One minute you will be crying, and the next you are experiencing side-splitting laughter. Jerry is also a master at posing shots to create not just photographs, but true works of art.

What Photographers Had to Say

I asked my friend David Terry for his thoughts after seeing the Tour in SLC and this is what he had to say:

Two years ago I had the opportunity of attending one of Sandy Puc’s seminars in Salt Lake City.  It was so good and so worth the price I paid, that I felt bad last year when I was unable to attend due to prior commitments.  So this year, I signed up for the event as soon as it was announced.  At the time I did not know who Jerry Ghionis was, and so that did not affect my plans.  But I attended his class at WPPI a month ago and came away saying to myself that I would ‘pay anything to see him again’. And wow, what a ‘one-two punch’.  The two of them last night were awesome.  Sandy served up business and marketing tips while Jerry both taught and inspired us.  His techniques for getting the image AND the emotion are truly inspirational. I would gladly pay to see him again.

Another friend of mine, Jeremy Hall, wasn’t sure if it would be worth his time to attend because he doesn’t focus on weddings. With a little encouragement he decided to come and this is what he said to me afterwards:

After some friendly prompting from fellow photographers, I decided to attend the Sandy Puc & Jerry Ghionis workshop in Salt Lake City. Though my focus is not wedding photography, I was looking for some great inspiration I could apply to all my photography. Sandy and Jerry were excellent. I enjoyed their presentation style, the simple techniques and ideas they presented, but most of all getting the inspiration I was looking for. I now have new motivation to approach my work with more emotion, sincerity and purpose.

And here is what SmugMug’s President and Co-Founder, Chris MacAskill said:

From a purely selfish point of view, I know I’m not a specialist in any form of photography and have much to learn about each kind.  But I leave most talks feeling like I learned very little and where are the Annie Leibovitzs,  Anton Lorimers, Michael Soos, Trey Ratcliffs, and Scott Robert Lims in this world who give you something that makes a big difference?

Jerry’s evoking emotion spiel was one of those times for me when I felt like I just learned something you should have known long ago.  I was wishing I could shoot my weddings over again.  Where have I been? It’s so obvious once you hear it.

See the Tour in Your City

There are still 11 cities to go in the tour and you can save $20 by entering the code SMPP11 on the registration page.  After seeing the show that first night I have encouraged every photographer I know to get out and see it.

Because SmugMug is sponsoring the tour, I have the unique opportunity of being able to travel from city to city with these great people.  Can I just tell you: I think what truly makes this event wonderful is how much fun these two have all the time.  Whether it is getting stuck in a snowstorm and Jerry whips out his iPhone to produce Death at Pollard Flat or an impromptu Dance Party on Sandy’s bus. It is easy to tell that these two really love what they do.  They exude passion for photography and for teaching others also.  And if you thought Jerry was a good photographer, check out his basketball skills.

Simply put, if you only have time for one educational event this year, this is the one to see.

You can register for the event by going HERE.

– Dustin

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I'm a freelance documentary photographer who loves travel, rangefinders, medium format film photography, and everything in-between.

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