There are photo workshops you should attend and then there are photo workshops you should avoid. That's just a fact of life.
I have been to a great many of them and in a future post, I'll list them all. I've always been careful about picking the ones I've wanted to go to. The instructors are all typically working professionals, not professional workshop instructors. Each had something to teach me that I could incorporate in my business or craft immediately. Every instructor promised me their full attention and delivered on it. I of course did my research. I asked my peers through forums, Facebook and Twitter. I checked their websites, blogs, forum posts and their public persona. I took mental notes on how they explained topics. Were they patient with people or did they cut people off? Did they invite discussion and conversation or was it all about them?
The ones I chose to attend seemed like they would be a good fit for me at that time. They taxed my premium resources – time and money – but I chose to spend it because I was convinced I would be a better photographer or better businessman.
But in the past few years, I have read a spate of bad press by frustrated photographers attending workshops, produced by those with little experience and clearly “rockstar” motivations. In one workshop review, I read how the instructors made more time for the video crew filming them than the workshop attendees who had paid top dollar to learn from them. That's plain appalling.
Photolovecat, a blog I respect a great deal, has occasional reviews of workshops and their presenters. These are unbiased and not anonymous, which I think gives the feedback some credibility. So that's one place you can go to see how a workshop you may be considering fared in terms of meeting or exceeding or failing expectations.
Today, on Twitter, I saw Gary Fong Tweet this:
Before you sign up for anybody's seminar or workshop, protect yourself with this and please RT tinyurl.com/garyfonginstru…
— gary fong (@garyfong_REAL) July 5, 2012
Gary calls it a “Disclosure Declaration” and it's for workshop attendees to send to their workshop instructors. Will workshop instructors fill it out? Can they handle the truth? Will workshop attendees forward this form to their instructors to fill out prior to signing up for a workshop? Hard to say how far this will go, but I think Gary is on the right track.
I suspect that the PDF Gary has started to distribute is either a part of his third book – “So You Want To Be A Rockstar Photographer” or it is meant to lead up to it. At this time, I don't know what the book is about and I haven't read Snaps or Accidental Millionaire: How To Succeed In Life Without Really Trying, his first two books. If you have read them, post a comment below and let me know.
What we need to get back to is a promise or a commitment from the teacher to the student – to freely impart information without bias, malice or agenda that will in the end be of benefit to those who have come to learn from them. When workshops are covers for flimsy work or shady business practices, credibility and trust for all workshop instructors suffers. Do you agree? Sound off below.
Would you like to see a Tiffinbox branded photography workshop? If so, what would you want it to be about? Go on, humor me!