Photographer’s resources – part 4- attending a workshop

At one point in your photographic adventure, you learned all you could from books, e-books, blogs, online classes and now you are ready to extend your horizons even further. You are considering taking a workshop. Maybe you want to hear some feedback from other participants or have your image critiqued by an instructor. Or perhaps you want to see how a person you know from a blog creates his images, want to meet them and learn from them live. But how do you choose an event to attend?

Since sometime last year, I am seriously considering participating in one. I went to a couple of seminars, and now I want something more. But so many web sites and more or less known photographers offers some kind of teaching, that it can get really overwhelming. How do you find what best suits your needs and the instructor who will be knowledgable and engaging, and possibly likable? Struggling with all of this, I started to pay attention to articles and blog posts coming through my computer on the subject, trying to learn more. Let me share with you what I learned.

It is always good to approach a problem with a systematic list of check points. Here is a list of points to consider before choosing and going to a photographic workshop:

1. Start from defining why you want to take a workshop and what you want to learn. Do you want to learn a lighting technique or some post-processing workflow? Maybe you want to learn more on shooting certain subjects, like wildlife or macro. Consider how advanced you are, and how much money (and time off work and family) you can really devote. Do you want to travel far to be inspired by different location or do you want to stay close to home to learn to think creatively about what’s around?
All of those will let you narrow down the choices.

Discover some more ideas in this article by Peter West Carey for DPC.

2. Choose the right type of event for what you want to achieve. There are seminars, often focused on post-processing or lighting, but might also be about certain type of photography. In either case, those are just presentations, no shooting time. There are workshops, with time to photograph, learn, interact and critique. There are photography tours, with minimal teaching but with experienced guide bringing you to the right spot in the right time.

Read more about different types of offerings in this article by Rob Shepard for “Outdoor photographer”.

3. Check out the instructor and the event as much as you can. Maybe the instructor has blog, see if his personality suits you. Check his portfolio online to see, if you like his style, if this is what you want to learn. Find testimonials from previous attendees. Contact them, if you want to learn more.

Learn more about what to pay attention to in this article by Peter West Carey for DPS and this article by MIchael Clark on Pixique. Also, check several workshop leaders talking about their events in this article for “Outdoor Photographer” magazine.

4. Prepare well to get the most out of the experience beforehand. Majority of instructors will provide you with the requirement list. But it might or might not include really basic stuff, like flashlight or spare batteries. Also, consider the season and weather in your destination.

Some example things to pack and consider are discussed in this article by Fred Troilo for DPS and Gary M Hart in “Outdoor photographer” magazine.

5. Come to the event with the right state of mind. Relaxed, open-minded, ready to learn and be physically exhausted. And don’t be this one participant who knows everything better then instructor! It spoils the event for everybody.

To learn more about preparing yourself fot the experience, check those articles by Eva Polak on Digital Photography School and on her web site.

I hope these points and articles will help you make the decision and go out for a workshop this year. If you are aware of any resource or would like to share your experience, please leave a comment below.

Meantime, I am going to search for a workshop with shooting and image critique in the group, conducted by somebody with compelling wild life portfolio, happening in Africa :). Wish me luck.

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