PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE TO BOOK
Attending a Photography Workshop can be a fantastic way to take your photography to the next level but before committing, here are some suggestions.
After participating in a few photography experiences myself, there have been a few that unfortunately left me feeling incredibly disappointed and were a terrible investment. There was one however that exceeded all expectations with Ted Grambeau and Phil Thurston.
I discovered that after attending several now. There are some fundamental essentials that will contribute to your best possible learning experience. Photography workshops are a considerable financial investment. There is nothing worse than leaving an experience feeling like it was a massive waste of time and money, especially after paying thousands of dollars to attend. What’s worse is leaving one and feeling like giving up altogether.
The internet is inundated 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 can 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 you commit to a workshop, I suggest asking a lot of questions first. If you are still unsure, I have provided links to workshops and online courses that come highly recommended or I that I have personally attended.
1. WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP?
Make sure you are entirely informed about the total costs of a workshop. It must be clearly stated in the workshop outline. A $5000 photography workshop can easily blow out to over $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 WILL THERE BE?
6-8 People is enough if you are shooting out on location. Ask the person taking the experience, how they will ensure equal time with participants. Something I know that frustrates many participants are those individuals who seem to hold the instructor to ransom while everyone else is left to their own devices.
If you are all paying the same, you need to feel like you are getting equal value from your experience. Not everyone is an extrovert and introverted people will never stand up and request assistance. Understanding different personality types is an essential element to teaching to cater to each learning style. A good trainer will be able to identify that they are spending too much time with one individual and wrap it up to avoid participant frustration. However people are all at different levels and may have different objectives so a good workshop will establish these objectives before you start and find a way to meet everyone’s learning needs.
3. HOW MUCH TIME WILL YOU BE SPENDING WITH THE COURSE LEADER?
A workshop where you meet up at a location and then get sent off to shoot with no tuition or direction is a lazy way to conduct a teaching workshop. Generally, you have paid thousands of dollars to spend time with industry professionals. I would expect they are there every step of the way. To guide you and provide you with their expertise. After all, this is what you paid for as part of your learning experience.
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 while suggesting different ideas.
4. WHAT IS TAUGHT ON THE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP?
Make sure there are a clear timetable and structure to the learning. A guidelines that identifies what will be covered during the workshop will ensure you can establish clear goals for your education.
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 are provided with a carefully planned itinerary. Not just thrown together last minute and if things change, they must be communicated to everyone, so they know where to meet if the location changes.
5. WHAT SUPPORT IS OFFERED 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 THEY 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 others really should not even attempt it.
The greatest thing I ask anyone who provides a workshop, especially if someone pays for the experience is to develop your skills as an educator. Individuals come to a photography experience to further develop their skills. A course that caters to multiple styles of learning is essential.
NEVER make the experience so unpleasant that you turn people off something they are passionate about.
7. HOW MANY PARTICIPANTS RETURN TO YOUR 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 photography experience hosted by the same photographer. Another is in the form of a review.
8. IF THE WEATHER TURNS BAD, DO, YOU HAVE A BACKUP PLAN?
There is nothing worse than an unprepared workshop host who hasn't considered the potential for weather changes.
9. WILL THERE BE SUPPORTING RESOURCES?
Note pads and pens to record anything discussed at the workshop are simple but essential learning tools. Most importantly having a resource of everything that will be covered during the experience so you can revisit it later.
It also shows that significant effort has been made to provide learning tools for multiple learning styles. A USB of everything that was delivered would be sufficient.
10. WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THE WORKSHOP?
Ask what knowledge you will gain and what they will do if you don't understand what is being delivered.
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, to another workshop date?
If you give reasonable notice, can you get a full refund?
Additionally, will they refund you if the workshop doesn't meet your expectations?
12. WHO IS THIS WORKSHOP FOR, IS THIS IDENTIFIED IN THE COURSE OUTLINE?
Attending a workshop aimed at all levels, only to find that isn't the case on arrival. Can be very frustrating. if you are a beginner and the tutor is catering for intermediate to advanced participants.
It can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
13. WILL THEY KNOW THEIR EQUIPMENT, NOT EVERYONE SHOOTS WITH THE SAME SYSTEMS?
There are multiple camera systems out there, and everyone is set-up differently; some people may be new to their camera equipment. That is why they are there to learn. Tutors must be able to support everyone in the workshop with whichever brand they use.
14. ASK OTHER PEOPLE WHO THEY RECOMMEND?
The best way to establish if a workshop is worthwhile is through word of mouth. I have added several online photography and tour experiences for various locations that I have attended myself and also have been recommended by other photographers.