Workshops: Investing in your progression.

Posted by Las Vegas Photoshoot Locations under
     Workshops... For those of us on a budget, they can be a big, scary expense. I saw a full-day workshop here in Las Vegas recently that cost as much as my mortgage payment. However, would I suggest to stay away? Absolutely not. Instead, sit down and identify your needs, find out what topic would benefit you most, and invest a little into your education.

     The image to the left showcases skills I learned from an "outdoor lighting" workshop I attended, that had a big section dedicated to overpowering the sun.

     What is better... a $500 light, or the in-depth knowledge of how to use that light? (and using the tips on this site, finding a few budget lights, and using that knowledge to produce stellar results.) Those results help you get paid... now you have those $500 lights and the knowledge of how to use them.

     Again, I'll hearken back to something I said in one of my first posts on this blog. Identify Your Need. Where that post may have been gear-centric, the concept remains the same. Take some time out of your day, sit down and objectively go through your work, sometimes it helps to have someone you trust along side you to keep the views truly objective. Find your strengths and in this case especially, your weaknesses.

     Alright, so you've got your main weakness, right? The singular skill that, once mastered, would improve your abilities the most? Now you've got a couple options here. You can read up on the topic, test it out, and practice for weeks or months on the topic, and hope to learn a few insights. OR... you can shell out some cash, and get some specialized, focused, direct instruction that is all about this topic that will improve your photography the most, and hopefully get you paid a little bit more, a little bit more often.

     It's true that all the information is on the internet, there are tons of people that are more than happy to share their knowledge with everyone. It is completely possible to read up on these concepts, and test them out yourself, and practice your ass of, and get a good grasp of the topic. However, even as broke as I typically am, I think that the guided direction that a good, well-established workshop can offer. An afternoon of structured study, given by someone well-versed in the technique you're trying to learn, can give you a big head start. It's like comparing reading up for a year about driving, and watching a ton of hollywood movies against a one-week driver's ed course to learn how to drive. One option just prepares you most to get out there and start practicing, and perfecting for yourself.

     Finding the right workshop is crucial, too. There are some big-wigs out there, with $1500 2 day workshops that you might learn quite a lot from. At the same time, however, there might be a local photographer who also teaches the same concepts. The big wigs have a lot more overhead, travel accommodations, rental fees, etc, in addition to a 50% markup because it's "Joe Awesomepants" who is instructing. The local may cover the same topics, give you the same insights, and also have a smaller class for more one-on-one time for $200 or so, (you're not paying for his hotel stay, spa treatment, and his name.) Do your research, and find what works for you, and don't dismiss the small local guy, some of us have great workshops, you'll leave a little more educated, but your wallet won't be as empty :)

     I have paid on average $100-$150 for the workshops I've attended, and if I leave with ONE concept, ONE small little thing that improves my photography, I consider it money well spent. For those who do this as a hobby, find a workshop a few hours away in another city, save up, and take a weekend-vacation, relax and learn a bit, or find one local, and spend a Saturday afternoon learning and improving. For the pro's out there, hell, it's a tax write off to boot, save money while learning how better to make more money.

Happy Shooting.


On June 17, 2011 at 6:04 AM , Unknown said...

Great topic and good solid advice! As a photographer and an intern at a local studio I fully agree with finding what you need to improve on and setting yourself up to win!