Questions To Ask Before Committing To A Photography Workshop / by Katherine Nielsen

Photo by  charley pangus  on  Unsplash

You want to improve you imagery and what better way to do this than to attend a Photography workshop. Before you commit I have some suggestions. I myself have attended a few workshops and unfortunately walked away feeling incredibly disappointed.

They are a huge investment and there is nothing worse than leaving the experience feeling like it was a huge waste of time. Especially, after paying thousands of dollars to attend.  The internet is  literally flooded with photographers offering photo tours, experiences and workshops all of which offer differing levels of tuition.

Being an industry expert will not always mean you are able to deliver a workshop that adds value to someone’s photography journey. Some of the best learning experiences I have had have been from free photography meets.

Before committing to a workshop I would suggest asking these questions first and if you are still unsure I have provided links to workshops and online courses that come highly recommended.

1.  WHAT WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP?

Make sure you are completely informed about the total costs of a workshop. This should be clearly stated. A $5000 workshop can easily blow out to $10k when flights, meals and transport to the venue are not included. Will this translate to money well spent if your expectations are not meet.

2.  HOW MANY PARTICIPANTS ARE THERE ?

6-8 People really is enough if you are shooting out on location. Ask if the person taking the workshop will make sure that they spend equal time with participants. Something that really irritates me, is those people who literally take all the time from the instructor while everyone else is left to their own devices. If you are all paying the same, you need to feel like you are getting the same value from the experience. Not everyone is an extrovert. It is essential that a trainer is able to identify that they are spending too much time with one individual and wrap it up.


3.  HOW MUCH TIME WILL YOU BE SPENDING WITH THE PERSON CONDUCTING THE WORKSHOP?

Attending a workshop where you meet up at a location and then get told to shoot with no tuition or direction is such a lazy way to conduct a workshop. If you have paid to spend time with industry leaders I would expect they are there ever step of the way to guide you and provide you with their expertise. After all this is what you paid for. So if you are shooting in the water they should be right there with you showing you their learned techniques. If your shooting landscapes I would hope they are there with you guiding your possible compositions and suggesting different techniques not sending you off to shoot.


4.  WHAT WILL BE TAUGHT AND WHAT ARE THE DELIVERY METHODS?

Make sure there is a clear timetable and structure to the learning. Guidelines for what will be covered during your workshop will ensure you have clear goals you can work toward. It’s important to understand how your time will be spent. Understanding if it will be hands on, conducted in a classroom or a bit of both helps to establish how you will be taught.

Some people like a relaxed approach to workshops but if you are like me I go to soak up as much knowledge as possible. Make sure you have an itinerary that has been carefully planned. Not just thrown together last minute and if things change they need to be communicated to everyone so they know where to  meet if the location changes.

5. WHAT SUPPORT WILL BE PROVIDED AFTER THE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP?

A key to a great workshop, I feel is having access to on-going support from your tutor, within reason. There is nothing worse than not being able to follow up with any lingering questions you forgot to ask at the time.

6. WHAT TEACHING QUALIFICATIONS OR TRAINING HAVE YOU OBTAINED?

Being an expert in your field doesn't always mean you will be able to deliver a course to people successfully. Some people are born teachers and some people really should not even attempt it. The greatest thing I ask anyone who delivers a workshop especially if someone pays for the experience, is to develop your skills as an educator.

People have come to you to learn and improve their photography skills , it is important that you can provide a course that is catered to the multiple styles of learning.

NEVER make the experience so unpleasant that you turn people off something they are passionate about.

7. HOW MANY PARTICIPANTS RETURN TO ADDITIONAL WORKSHOPS?

This is such a great question. The best way to judge a workshop is whether someone would be prepared to come back to another workshop hosted by the same photographer.

If you leave a workshop having learnt nothing new of creating something your proud of I feel that is a huge failure on the part of the educator. You want to have gained so much knowledge that you cannot wait to experience more. 

8. IF THE WEATHER TURNS BAD WILL THEY HAVE A BACK UP PLAN?

There is nothing worse than an unprepared workshop host who hasn’t considered the potential for weather changes. All good photographers know how to work with unexpected weather conditions.

Photo by  Brooke Lark  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

9. WILL THEY BE PROVIDING ANY RESOURCES?

Simple things like note pads and pens to record anything discussed at the workshop. Most importantly having a resource of everything that is covered during the workshop, so you can revisit it later. I feel this is an essential tool so participants are able to review what is covered in order to revisit anything that may get forgotten when time passes.

It also shows that great effort has been made to provide learning tools for multiple learning styles. A USB of everything that was delivered would be sufficient and saves paper wastage or an ebook.

10.  WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THE WORKSHOP?

Ask exactly what you will gain from participating and what they will do if you don’t understand what is being delivered.

Establishing clear goals you want to achieve and having these available for your tutor to work with you on will ensure your expectations are met.

11. WHAT IS THE REFUND POLICY?

How much of your money can you get back if your plans change? Are you able to reschedule and apply the fees you have already paid.

Additionally, will they refund you if the workshop doesn't meet your expectations.

12. ARE THEY CLEAR ABOUT WHO THIS WORKSHOP IS FOR?

Attending a workshop aimed at all levels only to find that isn’t the case, can be very frustrating and intimidating if you are a beginner. Especially if the tutor is catering for intermediate to advanced participants.

13. ARE THEY FAMILIAR WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHY SET UP YOU USE?

There are multiple camera systems out there and everyone is set-up differently some people may be new to their camera systems that is why they are there. If the person taking the workshop doesn’t know your camera will they have a representative that will be able to assist. 

You need to find out before providing a course what people will be using and have the appropriate resources to support the learner. Saying you don’t work with a certain system, frankly isn’t good enough.

If you are offering workshops you need to know all the in’s and outs of each system, housing and accessories. If the educator cannot assist it would be beneficial to have a  photography brand representative available  for support during the workshop.