As a fine art landscape photographer with a wealth of expertise, come along as I explore the benefits of photography workshops and provide tips on how to select a workshop that matches your goals and learning style.
First, why are you interested in a photography workshop?Before you begin making plans, it’s important to understand why you want to pursue a photography workshop. Are you seeking a break from your routine, and the opportunity to shoot alongside like-minded photographers? Or, do you have a specific goal in mind, such as learning landscape photography or mastering studio lighting for commercial photography? Identifying your “why” will help you choose the workshop that aligns with your objectives and aids in achieving your desired outcomes. It is important to ask yourself:
- What do you hope to learn?
- What specific goals do you want to achieve?
- How do you plan to use the knowledge and skills gained from the workshop?
The various formats of photography workshopsChoosing the right format will ensure that you leave the workshop feeling confident and inspired, with new skills and knowledge that you can apply to your own photography practice.
Basic photo guideHiring a guide or joining a half-day tour is a great option for those new to an area and/or needing help identifying where and when to shoot. A local guide can simplify the logistics of getting around, which is particularly useful for those short on time or unfamiliar with the area. I hired a guide when I visited Yosemite National Park for the first time, and it afforded me the privilege of photographing some hidden gems that I wouldn’t have otherwise known existed.
True photography workshopsI often refer to the second category of photography workshops as “true” photography workshops, which focus on teaching camera fundamentals, shooting strategies, and post-editing techniques. These workshops cover a diverse range of topics, from basic instruction on configuring a new camera or creating depth of field for beginners to intermediate-level topics such as studio lighting and night photography, and even advanced techniques such as working with luminosity masks or mastering high-speed sync. Participating in true photography workshops can help individuals enhance their expertise in specific areas. Apart from conventional classroom settings, many excellent online resources (e.g., SLR Lounge and CreativeLive) provide high-quality instruction on a wide range of topics and skills.
Full-immersion landscape photography workshopsIn a full-immersion landscape photography workshop, students receive guidance both in the field and in the classroom. The full-immersion approach’s most significant advantage is that students can evaluate their successes and failures at the end of each day, allowing them to make adjustments during the subsequent field and post-production sessions.
Stage 1: In the fieldOut in the field, my students are exposed to various methods of visualizing a scene, composing landscapes that include the ground, sky, and sea, and how to deal with challenging highlight and shadow situations by utilizing techniques like dynamic bracketing, focus stacking, and neutral density filters. Working alongside an experienced mentor, students are encouraged to reflect on their shooting goals for the day and, at times, pushed out of their comfort zones.
Stage 2: In the classroomOnce back in the classroom, students focus on enhancing their post-production skills. They learn how to determine when to use Lightroom, switch to Photoshop, and utilize techniques like luminosity masks to manage contrast, color, and blending issues.
The frequently asked questions about photography workshops
Are photography workshops worth it?Whether or not photography workshops are worth attending is a subjective decision that relies on several factors, including:
- Your specific learning objectives for the workshop
- How well the instructor’s expertise and experience align with your goals
- The style of the workshop’s format and teaching style
- The level of enrichment that the learning environment can offer to you as a photographer
What are the benefits of photography workshops?One of the significant advantages of participating in a photography workshop is identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Do you need to improve your camera skills or post-production techniques? Or do you require assistance in developing your artistic voice, creating more compelling messages, and enhancing the visual interest of your work? Finding a workshop, class, or tutor system that addresses your specific needs and supports your strengths can help you grow as a photographer.
How do you take a photography workshop?When planning for photography workshops, it’s crucial to do your due diligence by researching the workshop’s website to ensure that it aligns with your learning style and goals. Here are some essential factors to consider when selecting a workshop:
- Does a master lead the workshop with exceptional credentials who can inspire and challenge you to grow as a photographer, or is it merely a presentation of information? (Not all photographers were born to teach!)
- Does the curriculum and learning path meet your needs and align with your photography goals?
- What is the teacher-to-student ratio, and does it allow for individual attention and feedback?
- If the workshop takes place in the field, are there appropriate safety precautions and considerations?
- How positive are the overall reviews and testimonials from previous attendees?
- What is the workshop’s cancellation policy and is it reasonable?
- If travel is involved, do you need to arrange accommodation or transportation?