As WPPI is coming so soon, here are some tips on how to select a photography workshop:
1. Go into it as a business decision
The first step to choosing a workshop should be understanding that attending a workshop is a business decision. It’s common for photographers to forget that spending money on anything photography-related is a business decision. Are you a full-time photographer? This will eat into your direct profit, so you want to make sure your money is spent wisely. Are you a part-time photographer or hobbyist? Your decision to attend a workshop is an investment in yourself, so invest wisely.
2. Determine what you’re willing to spend
This ties directly into #1, but before selecting a workshop, determine what you are able and willing to spend. This will help to narrow your focus and reduce the urge to “impulse buy” just because the workshop sounds super fun. Again, it’s a business decision. Workshop fees can range from $75 – $3000, so having a good price range will help.
3. Expect travel costs
Unless held locally, expect some travel costs to be involved with attending a workshop. This can include airfare, hotel, and meals. Read what is included in your workshop fee and what is not, so that you can best plan your budget.
4. Pick a focus
Once you know what you’re able to afford as a workshop, determine a focus. This should be based on your business goals and what you really need to learn more about. There are some workshops that offer a myriad of topics, and others that are very specific. Sit down and write out what you really need to focus on, and this will help you to again narrow your results.
5. Narrow your results
Once you determined what you can afford, and what you would like to focus on, you can go out and do some research on the workshops that are available in your category. Ask around for recommendations and write a list of all of the workshops that suit your needs. There may be some “big name” workshops, which have more visibility, but there are also some amazing photographers who are offering workshop education without as much visibility. Try to find every workshop you can that fits your needs. Email other photographers for help, and you’ll be able to create a short-list to choose from.
6. Read reviews
Once you’ve created your short list, read reviews! How did previous attendees enjoy the workshop? What went well? What was covered? What was missed? The more reviews you can read, the more well-informed you are about your business decision. Websites like Fisheye Connect and TeachStreet are great resources. Take reviews with a grain of salt, as sometimes those that were dissatisfied may not choose to post publicly. Instead…
7. Ask for references
Ask the workshop instructor for references, and email these references to get all of the workshop details. The instructor should be willing to offer you a list of references. Ask detailed questions. If a workshop instructor cannot provide references or does not respond, consider the attention you may receive at the workshop.
8. Research the instructor
How many years of experience does the instructor have? If very few, are they extraordinarily creative or heavily qualified in one specific area? If a lot, are they known as the expert or have successful businesses, so as to cover a wide array of topics? The more you know about your instructor, the more you can determine if the workshop details fit.
9. Let it simmer
Now that you’ve determined your cost, done your research, and read your reviews – let it simmer. Even if just for a day. Usually, workshops don’t sell out in the matter of hours, so let it simmer for a little bit so that you’re comfortable with your decision. Again, resist the urge to impulse buy just because you think the lunches sound like fun.
10. Take a risk
You’ve done the calculations, you’ve done your research, but it’s not necessarily totally justified. Is something in your gut telling you to go anyway? You can still take a risk. Sure, things could go one way or the other, but without risk there is no reward.
11. Write a review after the workshop!
Whether you loved it or hated it, please write a workshop review after it’s over. This is so critical. Future workshops attendees will have no idea what to expect without thorough workshop reviews, and qualified workshop instructors should appreciate both positive and negative feedback as a way to grow, get better, and offer the best product possible. Detail how the workshop fit with the initial description, what you learned, what your expectations were, and if they were met.