I’ve previously stated that I don’t really go to ‘Photography Workshops‘ and have aired my reasons for doing so, but – recently I have attended three different sessions run by three separate organisers. I will revisit my earlier thoughts and expand on my current views in this article. Of course there is good and bad in everything, photographic or otherwise and the organisers have to cater for all levels of attendees.
Opportunity to shoot subjects that would otherwise be too onerous for one photographer to organise, either in terms of cost or logistics. Sharing the cost of a venue or group of models / subjects can be beneficial.
Originality is a challenge when there could be similar or copied images produced on the day so this really makes me work harder in post-processing to make the images ‘mine’ and different from others created at the same time. Often I find myself compositing the subjects into new environments to maintain originality at the cost of the provided location.
Social Interaction is a key element of photography to me and I enjoy working with others, often sharing techniques and knowledge / experience. I tend to share contact details with the subjects and also with the other photographers too. Seeing other’s work from the same occasion is an interesting way to get a wider view of opportunities and different styles.
Preparation is vastly reduced and is a boon for inexperienced photographers who have not previously planned and prepared their own events. However, I do take offence at all workshops being classed together as ‘Pay-Per-Click‘ which can be a real insult to the input of the photographer. There is a change in approach required not an abandonment of skills to create great images.
Learning is key to development in all walks of life and there are many things that can be learned on workshops. Recently I attended a workshop to better understand a method of studio lighting that I admire, I can now adopt and adapt this to create my own version / style.
Great images should be the outcome of all of these workshops with the opportunities provided by the subjects and the environments. Overall I have been happy with the final results on the majority of workshops – some have realised far superior images than others though.
Duplication. As there will probably be other photographers in situ there will be a number of similar images created, probably by photographers from a similar geographical location. A flick through social media sites or camera club competitions will highlight this.
Plagiarism. There is duplication then there is just plain copying of ideas and set-ups which is highly frustrating, even annoying. Some others will see your ideas and just replicate them in their entirety and this has happened to me very recently with images posted on social media before mine saw light of day.
Negative Personality Traits are a major concern of mine at these events and I have seen many photographers who are just greedy / selfish / imposing / ignorant / dominant / etc. These traits often lead to conflict within the group as they seem oblivious to the consequences of their approach in their pursuit of their images. Recently, one complained after being repeatedly reminded that they were 15 minutes into their 5 minute slot that it was the previous photographer’s fault!
Lack of Control is bound to be an element of this type of shooting as a lot of the planning and preparation has been done in advance by other people. Your opportunity to be original is limited to within the scope of the event. If the organisers don’t share your level of attention to detail this can be a real drawback. Not all workshops are created equal; some allow, even encourage, you to move things around whilst others positively discourage it.
Comfort Zones are an easy trap to fall into and sometimes taking on something new or different seems a bit too threatening. Workshops should not be the end game for photographers but instead used to work on all of the positives on offer as listed left.
To summarise, I think that I will continue to create most of my work on a ‘1 to 1’ basis where I have greater control of the above points and retain the originality and style of my work. I will, almost certainly still attend workshops that I feel add to my repertoire and fit within my style but I will be selective in who I work with. I have, on the whole, made new ‘photo friends’ on the workshops that I have attended, people that I will be happy to work with again, alas there are also some who I hope I do not come across in the future. The key thing I suppose is that photography is personal and a hobby which should be both fun and rewarding so each to their own.
Below are a few images taken recently on workshops that I am pleased with and happy to share…