With so many photography workshops out there and most of them costing a small fortune, it’s hard to determine which workshop is really worth your investment. Here are some things I have learned along the way that have helped me
1) Just because a photographer is awesome at taking pictures, it does not mean that they are a great teacher. I learned this one the hard way. Which leads me to number 2…
2) Research, research, research. Don’t just read what the photographer posts on their site. If you google “xyz photography workshop” you will come across blog entries from photographers that attended that photographers workshop. Read their entries, look at their pictures, and don’t be afraid to shoot them an email to ask what they really thought and would they attend that workshop again. Ask if they learned everything they were promised and if the photographer was a good teacher.
3) Models vs. Real People. Now that I have all the basic fundamentals of photography down, when I attend a workshop the most important thing for me is to see how that photographer works with their subjects. And I want those subjects to be real people, not models. Why? Because I don’t work with models. I work with real people. It’s easy to work with models. They know what they are doing and feel comfortable in front of the camera. Real people don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera. You have to work a lot harder with real people. I want to see how photographers work with real people and make them feel comfortable in front of the camera.
4) Don’t break the bank. Not all awesome workshops have to cost $1000. The very first workshop I attended was a 2 day workshop and only cost $300! I learned more from that workshop than I did from the other workshops I’ve attended and paid three times that amount!
5) How many people are attending that workshop? Will you get one on one time with the photographer? It makes a big difference if 15 people are attending versus 30. With less people it will be easier to ask questions and get better positions during the shoot.
6) What can you use your images for? It’s easy to get tempted by beautifully styled shoots. But, are you allowed to use these images in your portfolio? Some photographers will allow you to do whatever you’d like with your images and some won’t allow you to use them at all.
7) Make sure you attend a workshop that is suited to your skill level. If you don’t know your aperture from your ISO consider taking an online workshop first that will teach you all the basic fundamentals. Online workshops are cheaper and you don’t have to pay travel costs to attend. Most photographers will assume that you already know the basics and how to shoot on manual and won’t cover that in their workshops (unless they market it as a beginners workshop). If you don’t know the basics you will be lost and the workshop won’t be as worthwhile.
8) Consider a mentoring session rather than a workshop. If you’re confused about which workshop to attend consider meeting one on one with a photographer that you love and admire. With a mentoring session you can get one on one advice that is suited for you and your business. It might cost a little more money, but it will be worth it because of all the attention you get. You can get your pricing, marketing materials, website, and portfolio looked over which is something that you can’t do at most workshops (or you will have a very limited amount of time to do so).