Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Choose The Best Workshop
From afternoon seminars to weekends in the field to full-blown exotic tours, you’ll get the most out of a workshop when you select one that’s suited to your goals and schedule
A workshop can be a great way to improve your skills and knowledge about photography. So how do you connect with the right workshop for you? Not the best workshop for anyone, since that doesn’t exist, but the best workshop for your needs and interests. To start, it helps to understand that there are many types of workshops, and sometimes choosing the right type will make all the difference.
Tours go to a specific and special area. You’ll be traveling through that area as you photograph. Pick one of these tours to get you to a great location with the assistance of a guide (or guides) who will help with both photo and location challenges. Obviously, the location is important so choose carefully, including by doing research about the location separately from the promotional material from the tour group. Know a little bit about the weather at the location and other conditions. Even the greatest tour leader won’t be much help if you dislike the location and the conditions there.
That also goes for accommodations. Some tours will book luxury hotels for the comforts they provide, and other tours will pick smaller, local accommodations that get you closer to the action. Neither is arbitrarily right or wrong, but can be right or wrong for you.
A tour gives you the opportunity to photograph with a bunch of like-minded photographers at a great location as determined by your guide. That guide is important because you’ll be spending some time with him or her, although don’t expect a tour guide to be the same as a classroom instructor. There simply isn’t the time or the opportunity for such instruction.
Preparing for a tour. Research the location ahead of time. Check out some travel books from the library, go to your local bookstore or explore online. Know a little about the location, including getting an idea of how other photographers have approached photographing the area. Check out the expected weather so you’re prepared with the right clothing. The wrong clothing on a tour can be worse than the wrong camera gear if the weather is uncooperative. Learn a little about travel to and from, as well as in, the area so you’re not surprised by what the tour will entail.
Many locations across the country, and even the world, offer a classroom-based workshop at a specific location. These workshops are generally in locations that work well for photography, so you’ll usually go out and photograph in the area for part of the time, then come back to the classroom for critiques and other discussion. The exception to this can be image-processing classes, such as Photoshop classes, where all of the work is done at the computer. I find that even these classes work best when you get a chance to do some shooting at the same location as the rest of the class.
Classroom-based workshops are highly topic-oriented. This is where you can find a workshop that fits some specific needs in your growth as a photographer. They vary from classes for beginners all the way to advanced classes on almost any topic. Be sure to pick a topic that fits your needs and an instructor who’s well experienced in that topic.
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