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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Get The Most From A Workshop

What to look for and what to expect from a photography workshop

This Article Features Photo Zoom

workshopPhoto workshops can be a productive way to learn more about photography. They offer an opportunity to try new things, gain the expertise of an experienced instructor and share ideas with students who have similar backgrounds and interests. There’s a wide variety of workshops available, and it can be challenging to know exactly which workshop to take and what you can expect from the workshop. So it’s important to take a look at what you need from the experience and how you can get the most from it.

What Are You Looking For?
Outdoor photographers enjoy photography and, sooner or later, believe that a workshop can help them get even more enjoyment from taking pictures. While that’s exactly what happens most of the time, there’s no question that the right workshop for one photographer can be the wrong one for another. Before you sign up for a particular workshop, think about why you want to take it. Here are some possibilities:
• For the location
• For the instructor
• For the topic
• To build knowledge in a specific area
• To connect with other photographers
• To learn more about your camera
• To learn more about working with images in the computer

These are valid reasons for taking a photo workshop, but to get the most success from the experience, make your choice based on key needs and not on trying to get everything. If you expect a workshop to be great because of the location and the topic and the instructor and more, you may be disappointed because it’s difficult to have one workshop do all of these things well.

Bottom line: Find a workshop that fits your specific needs, but prioritize your needs so you can choose the one most likely to meet your expectations. It might be fun to have a workshop with a famous photographer, but if the location or the topic is unappealing to you, you won’t enjoy the experience.

Bill Fortney, founder of the Great American Photography Workshops (www.gaphotoworks.com), says a workshop should have three key components: fieldwork with a caring and dedicated teacher, critiques of your work and instructional lectures to help you become a better photographer.

Jim Clark (www.jimclarkphotography.com) works with many different workshop organizations, and he likes a workshop where the leader is a naturalist who’s well versed in the area, in addition to being a photography expert. Clark suggests locations where participants have time to simply enjoy the environment beyond taking pictures and where the leader is excited and passionate about the area.

Kerry Drager (www.betterphoto.com) is the point person for BetterPhoto.com and suggests that you should look at course descriptions carefully in order to be sure you have the skills and knowledge to take full advantage of the instruction. If you aren’t sure, check with the instructor or the workshop program. For example, it can be especially frustrating to discover that you’ve enrolled in a program for computer neophytes if you’re an advanced Photoshop user.


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