How To Select Your Next Workshop

June 28, 2019

Early in my career, I have attended various workshops in order to make sure I am up to date with my skill set as well as to get inspiration and see how perhaps others are tackling photography, even now once in a while I enjoy visiting conventions and workshops.

I have to say that without doing the proper research, I landed on some pretty bad workshops. I decided to write this blog to give you food for thought before you select your next workshop adventure. 

Here are the negatives I have experienced: 

  1. Wanting to walk out because the instructor turns out to not know as much as I hoped for or just not willing to share knowledge (but I paid way too much money)
  2. Walking out because of inaccurate description
  3. Walking out because the instructor is trying to sell me gadgets

I came up with a list of criteria that I believe will help you make an educated decision, so you do not end up wasting your money and time.

1.The instructor’s background and body of work

When you are browsing through the internet, looking for an interesting workshops, and you find one you think you like, its important to research the instructor and his work in depth.

Things to consider:

  • How long has the photographer been in business?
  • What kind of recognitions does the photographer have? Make sure they are from a reputable and tasteful institution. There are many big institutions out there offering awards and recognitions to their members but the overall bar is not high enough in terms of quality.
  • Is the photographer’s work consistent in style and quality?
  • Reviews: reviews are tricky. First of all, many websites will remove bad reviews because they are paid to do so, second, you really don't know the level of experience and understanding of the person giving the review or their progress after the workshop. That being said: google! Its pretty good!
  • Think about the style of the photographer too: is it something you want to learn, could you apply it to your own work? 
  • Consider what will be taught- for example: if you want to learn camera fundamentals but the class you are looking at is about light and editing, its probably best to consider that class at a later stage as most likely camera fundamentals will not be covered so extensively
  • Research what has the instructor commented or said in the past, it will give you an idea of who they are and what they stand for
  • Pay attention to the equipment the instructor is using. Professionals use top gear in terms of camera, lens and lights. If the instructor is teaching the workshop using cheap equipment- that is a strange thing and you should question the instructors own knowledge

In my experience, the less an instructor knows, the bigger their ego and unwillingness to share information, which defeats the whole purpose of a workshop.

 Armchair philosophy time: when I say EGO I mean the kind born from insecurity and fear “ I will show everyone how amazing I am” but in fact that person deep inside knows they are not so amazing. There is good EGO ,I believe, that EGO helps the individual succeed and make their mark in the world.

2. Inaccurate description

  • Pay attention to the description of the workshop, terms and conditions (they may be listed separately), cancelling policies - professionals always have these described well as it is a common practice in the industry. Since you will be receiving an intangible good,  professional photographers will have these in detail.

3. Workshop trying to sell you on gadgets

  • Do not think that a “cheap” workshop and a “costly” one designed to teach the same thing are the same. In my experience, the more expensive the workshop, the less likely it is that the instructor will be desperate to sell you on products from their sponsors or affiliates. Rest assured that the lower the fee for a workshop, it is mostly designed to advertise a new product and “teach” you around that.

In conclusion, find an instructor that is not only experienced and with a consistent body of work but also passionate about sharing knowledge and educating others.