Is a Photography Workshop Right for You?

What sort of person goes to a photography workshop? The answer cannot be simple, as people are not simple.

outdoor photography workshop

“TDS Sonoma Coast Workshop 1” captured by Derrick Story

Motivations

There are a variety of reasons for even considering a photography workshop. The obvious one is education—the desire to learn something. That just gets us into a whole new field as there is so much to learn about photography and much that can be learned applies only to certain stages of your development as a photographer. For instance, a beginner may be interested in getting to grips with aperture settings and depth-of-field, while a more experienced photographer might be looking to work on her composition. Education need not stop with the image capture either. Photography has always had a post-capture phase, and this remains critical in the development of final work.

A related but different motivation is inspiration. As individuals, we often reach a plateau in our development of some particular skill, and it takes something special to reach the next level. A wholly new experience, such as a workshop where you can see other photographers doing their thing, could be exactly the spark that is needed. This is even more true where the workshop is led by someone whose work you admire.

Taking that theme one stage further, you might be at the point in your photography where you are seeking a set of attributes which, taken together, would be your style. A workshop offers a chance to see a developed style (that of the workshop leader) as well as other styles at various stages of development. Understanding the progression can help with your self-confidence and should also help you to recognize what it is that makes your images yours.

photography workshop with model

“Dhurt Espina Photography Workshop ~ 2014” captured by Nollitsac Ryan (Click image to see more from Ryan.)

We should not forget the social element of photography workshops. Unless you are lucky enough to have a family member who is also a photographer, it is likely that you will very much appreciate spending some time with other individuals who are. No need for compromises; you’ll enjoy full days of doing and talking the business.

A final motivation to mention here is your portfolio. It can be assumed that your workshop will be held somewhere suitably photogenic and that you will take a lot of photos, hopefully of an improving standard.

scenic photography workshop

“Yosemite Workshop” captured by Brian Leng (Click image to see more from Leng.)

Some photographers may actually choose a workshop to develop some extra variety in their collection of images, whether or not they see that as a separate issue from the learning experience.

Constraints

Each of us has constraints that limit what we would like to do to a more practical what we can do. The two most significant are usually time and money. Everyone is familiar with juggling these two balls so, no advice needed.

You may also need to take into account your age, general fitness or health issues, especially where travel is involved. If you have any mobility concerns then it will pay to read the program of activities carefully and ensure that you will be able to keep up with the group. Groups can slow down a bit if necessary but are not always good at coping with significant exceptions.

Your nationality can affect travel too—with paperwork and security issues to think about. The best advice available here will be your own government’s travel advice, usually available online.

There can be no hard and fast rules about whether you are the right sort of person to go on a photography workshop. You will have to add up the different factors above and apply your own weightings. How motivated are you? What constraints are you under? Only when you get a feel for the reward vs. cost balance will you know where on the scale you lie and whether now is the time. If not, it is a decision you should keep returning to—for if you got this far, it is likely that you will be going on a workshop at some stage in your life.

If you do decide that you are the right sort of person to go on a photography workshop, the next decision is which one?

About the Author:
Ian is Operations Manager and Webmaster for Photo Tours Abroad.

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