Are Photography Workshops Worth It?
There are so many ways to learn about landscape photography today it almost seems overwhelming. Conferences, YouTube, Zoom, e-books, paper books, social media and on and on. There’s no shortage of outlets for learning and improving skills. One method for learning and skill development stands above all others though: Photo Workshops. Minute for minute there is no richer opportunity to learn and develop skills than in person, in the field.
I may be a bit biased when discussing if Photography Workshops are worth it but in all honesty, I strongly believe a workshop is the single best way to learn and enhance your skills. I will add a small caveat to this statement by mentioning not all “workshops” are actually ones in which you learn anything. Many are simply a stop and drop tour of locations in a large group (no thanks). I’m discussing workshops in which the photographer works closely with the people to learn a specific skill, concept or to generally learn in a 1:1 setting. I actually feel so confident in this learning method that I’m also considering joining a workshop to learn and enhance my skills.
The first part of understanding the value of a workshop is understanding what you’ll learn. Workshops are a commitment of time and money, so having an general idea of what you’re learning beforehand is a good place to start. This includes understanding a little about who you’re joining for the workshop. The photographer may be very familiar with a particular area and a workshop will offer insight into photographing the area more effectively. Be careful with this one though as there are many location bases photography workshops in which the photographer knows little about. For these types of workshops the best value and learning will come from someone locally or with extensive experience in the landscape.
For more skill based or conceptual workshops, the understanding of what you’ll learn might be found on the photographers website or social media. You’ll likely get snippets, videos or other examples of their workshop focus. There are many niches in Nature and Landscape Photography and mediums from film to digital and more. Most importantly, it takes a little effort on the perspective attendee’s part for the best experience.
Another factor for determining the value of a workshop is the duration of the workshop. There really isn’t a “magic number” of days but it should be appropriate to the subject, location or concept. For instance, a 2 day workshop in Iceland seems a bit short, or a 2 day workshop in the Palouse. Both will give you a taste of the landscape but never enough time to gain the benefits of working with a photographer directly. On the other end is a workshop that is too long. Too much information over too long of a period of time will dilute the learning where everything begins to blend together.
From my experience, a 2-5 days is a great range of days but will depend on the locations an intent of the workshop. My Palouse Workshop is 3 1/2 days and I’ve found that more than this length is purely exhausting due to early mornings and late nights. Any less than this time and you’ll never actually get to photograph the Palouse effectively.
Something else to note is a 1 Day workshop where you can learn a specific skill in one day. You can also get a solid foundation to work on for subsequent days with a 1 Day workshop. I offer several of these workshops and they’re great for people to learn on location in the morning and evening without consuming an entire week of vacation.
It’s my opinion that workshops are a great investment of time dedicated towards learning. There are many to choose from and not all of them are “workshops” as I’ve mentioned earlier. Feel free to contact me if you’re looking for a workshop in a particular area and I’d be happy to give my advice whether it’d be a good fit for you. Additionally, I offer several types of workshops all listed on my website and would be happy to chat with you to find the best fit for you.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you out in the field!