Getting the most out of a photo workshop

November 23, 2009

Photo Tips

As I prepare for my upcoming photo instructional workshops, I thought it would be appropriate to put together a short list on how to get the most out of a photo workshop.

One of the fastest, easiest and most effective ways to improve your photography is by learning from experienced professionals, and what better way to do that than going on a photo workshop to some spectacular and beautiful destination.

Moutain Goat, Beartooth Mountain, MT

For some people a photo workshop can be a one in a lifetime opportunity, others are more fortunate and are able to attend a diverse number of workshops. Regardless, each workshop represents a significant investment of your time, capital and resources, as such you want to make sure to get the most out of each single workshop you are fortunate enough to attend.

Here are 6 things to consider in order to improve your next workshop experience:

1. Start with the right attitude
This may seem simple, but it’s probably the most important piece of advice I can give you. Going to a workshop with a positive attitude, with a real desire to learn and having an open mind is the key to enjoying yourself. Be patient and courteous to both your workshop leaders and fellow participants.

2. Know your equipment
Make sure you know as much as possible about your photo gear. Most photo workshops are designed to further your photographic skills, not to show you the basics of your cameras operation. However, if you have questions about a particular aspect of your camera, make sure to ask, bringing the manual also helps!

3. Dress appropriately
Wearing the wrong clothes can turn a fantastic workshop into a miserable experience. For my workshops, I customarily provide a list of recommended gear and clothing to wear appropriate for the location and the expected weather. Make sure you have spares of the most essential items, such as gloves for those winter workshops. Research your destination and look at the weather forecast, and plan accordingly.

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, WY

4. What do you hope to get out of this workshop?
Decide what you want to get out of the workshop, whether its a specific image you want to make, a photo technique you want to learn, or are just looking for inspiration. Understanding what will make this workshop a success for you will help both you and your instructor MAKE IT a success. Make sure you communicate this information with your workshop leader.

5. Learn as much as you can about the workshop destination
It is often said that the more you learn about something, the better you can capture it in photographs. I truly believe in this adage. Learn as much as you can about your destination, the natural features, the wildlife, the weather, everything and anything. Knowing what makes a location unique will help you make better images.

6. Ask questions and pay attention
The first item on this list was a simple piece of advice, and the last one is even simpler; ask questions, no matter how basic or “dumb” they may seem. You are attending a workshop to learn, help your instructors help you! Sometimes you don’t even know what questions to ask, that is ok, oftentimes watching someone do something is one of the most effective ways to learn. Watch your instructors, study what they do when they are shooting, ask them about what they are doing, try doing what they are doing and ask for feedback.



This post was written by:

- who has written 347 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Juan is a wildlife photographer who currently lives in Maine. Juan lives and breathes photography and travels around the country making images, teaching and leading photo workshops. Juan’s favorite destination is Yellowstone in winter.

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