Master new skills, explore spectacular locations and make new friends who share your passion as you learn together from experienced pros
By Jon Sienkiewicz
Workshop Tips Once you've made the decision to attend an international workshop, follow this advice from the pros; some of this advice can be applied to domestic workshops as well. First, thoroughly understand how your camera operates. "Don't come to a workshop not knowing what a button does," Zuckerman suggests.
Know your other equipment, too. Bring the owner's manual along; instructors are photography experts, but can't possibly know the intimate details of every camera model. And when you're in the jungles of New Guinea, for example, there's no tech support hotline to call for help.
Pack very light. Transportation often is via small planes that enforce strict weight limits. Check the local weather several times before departure and pack accordingly. Choose durable garments that can be worn more than one day. Bring more equipment than clothing. Don't underestimate the number of shots you'll take. NeJame recommends that for a one-week trip you should carry at least 6 GB worth of memory cards, extra batteries and two devices to back up images on a daily basis.
Jim Zuckerman points out that after the New Guinea excursion, several people vowed they'd never take a notebook computer on a workshop again. While it may be convenient to have a computer at hand, Zuckerman instead recommends bringing a portable hard drive that can download and archive images directly from the camera or memory card. In fact, he says, "Bring two—one for backup. Don't be burdened by extra weight or the problem of lugging something as vulnerable as a laptop computer along."
How To Choose If you're looking for expert instruction in a beautiful and photogenic location while enjoying the camaraderie of others who are just as passionate about photography as you are, you should attend a workshop soon. But how do you choose the right one? There are some obvious considerations, cost being a prominent one. A two-week international travel workshop can cost more than $7,000 while a local workshop can cost as little as $200 per day.
Another clear deciding factor is the workshop destination. Once you've narrowed the field to a handful of candidates, you should base your decision on the instructor. Participants, sponsors and group leaders unanimously agree that the most important factor to consider is the instructor. Ask the workshops for permission to contact previous students for recommendations. Was the group leader a good a teacher? Was he or she approachable and willing to share information? Choose the instructor carefully and the workshop will be an experience you'll savor for a lifetime.