People who attend workshops should already have the technical aspects of photography figured out. I.E. Shutter speed, aperture, lens choice, ISO etc. Those can easily be self taught now that we have the internet. Most workshops, in my opinion, are similar to adult field trips, going to popular destinations and enjoying the company of others, hopefully. The majority of people choose workshops based on the instructors knowledge of a location and what images he/she has to showcase from that area. Why not just go to a location and explore it yourself? Maybe having an instructor to do that for you is easier. I do believe there are beneficial workshops out there but they’re mostly on film based photography. For example, John Sexton has a great workshop where he not only takes you out into the field, but he teaches you how to develop and print your images in the darkroom. Those sort of “dying art” workshops are invaluable.
If your goal is to post pretty pictures online, then most “field trip” workshops get the job done. But I feel if you’re going to spend that kind of money, you should walk away with the knowledge of how to produce a fine art print. That sort of knowledge takes years of practice but can be greatly improved with the right instructor, and is then well worth the money.
I agree, Shane, there is a time and place for “enjoying the company of others”. I actually love to talk shop, show others how to take better pictures, and explore a location as a team. Despite my reclusive / hermit-y nature, some of the time, I do enjoy this.
I’d also love to take workshops where the “full experience” is given, from shooting technique and creative philosophies, to business tips on how to get noticed, and how to succeed.
Then again, I almost think those two things go great separately, too. If I want to learn how to make prints, I’ll take a workshop on that. If I want to learn how to run a business, I’ll take a workshop on that.
So I guess there’s all types of people out there, and all types of teachers. At the end of the day, I just hope for the same thing Ben does: Preservation and protection, above all else.
Very well said Shane. I definitely agree about the workshops that teach the process from making an image to producing a print. That’s the type of knowledge that would be very beneficial to be taught first hand by someone who is experienced. Those are certainly few and far between, and something that I myself would love to do!
I strongly agree! For me, as friendly as I am and as much as I enjoy helping others learn about photography, …going out into the wilderness is an emotional, even spiritual experience for me personally and I do my best work (and enjoy myself the most) when I am surrounded by peace and tranquility.
Thus, I too have kind of decided that my main plan as a photography educator will involve continuing to do things as solo as possible, and sticking to things like online publications, videos, and maybe even physical books and other things.
That’s not to say that if someone offered me a job teaching workshops with Mountain Light, I wouldn’t take it. But I’m not an event planner, nor am I a savvy businessperson / marketing director. I’m just a photographer.
I’ve had a fantastic time giving lectures and presentations, and I think those are great in-person learning experiences for both beginners and experienced photographers alike.
However when it comes time to visit the wilderness places my heart is drawn to, indeed I hope to continue doing so in solitude.
That’s not to say I don’t also enjoy larger collaborative projects, between friends. My trip to Whitney for astro-landscape shooting proved this could be an incredible pleasure, and some images simply aren’t possible without the help of others. But 90% of the time, I still do my best work when I’m all alone, “in the zone”…
Photography workshops… I think I can sum up my thoughts quickly and easily. As long as the organization or photographer is very clear about what they are marketing/offering, then the door is wide open in my mind. It is a big world with a lot of varied opinions. Things I see no value in, others treasure, and vice versa.
I host a lot workshops on a variety of topics (wet plate collodion, landscapes photography with medium/large format film, and so on), and many of them are free. I do it because I like helping people grow technically and creatively. I also do it because I am an advocate for all things analog photography.
I’ve met some of my best friends this way (kindred spirits) and even converted a few to large format film. My underlying goal is to expose people to the beauty of film and creating hand-made prints in the darkroom. While I develop all of my large format slide film in my personal lab, print color in the darkroom in addition to creating mural sized b/w gallery prints, I don’t offer workshops on these topics because I don’t need it as an income source and I like working alone. That part of me is a peaceful place that I am not able to experience if I am talking with people.
I have and do pay for guides if I am visiting an area that I am not familiar with. I think it is a good investment of my money and time to do so. I don’t care if they are a photographer or not, so long as they know the area.
It is a big world and I am just happy that people are interested in the visual arts, whatever that means for them.
Nice job on the video this week Ben, always appreciate your insights and opinion.