A photography workshop is something that everyone should attend at least once – and more than once is better if you can afford it. It is, after all, a place where every attendee is interested in photography, and this is great for discussion, practice and experience.
The knowledge you can gather from a good workshop can be invaluable.
I’ve been fortunate to hear some wonderful speakers, who frankly deserved more exposure than they were getting, and conversely, I’ve sat through some awful presentations by accomplished photographers.
Based on my own experiences though, I’d suggest that people attend talks, and lectures – no matter how obscure the subject matter may be. You never know what you’ll learn.
So, reasons to attend lectures and workshops:-
1. The Speaker – Don’t always base your attendance on who it is – look at their work, and use that as a start point. Don’t forget that good photographers don’t always make good speakers (and vice versa).
2. To see the work of other attendees, if it is a workshop where you bring images yourself. It’s always good to see other peoples work – and this is why I enjoy travelling to different places and clubs so much – I get to look at what everyone else is doing.
3. Pick up new techniques – ideas about how to use software – discover new software. Talk about how cameras have developed….
4. See different styles and approaches that are different to yours.
We are creatures of habit, and sometimes we get so tied up in our own visions, that we fail to see what else is going on around us. It’s good to see someone elses work that makes us feel inadequate, because, who knows, it may open the door to something new and creative for you.
5. Getting past the cliche shots. How many images of the jetty at Derwent have you seen? How many Taj Mahals at sunrise? How many red buses in a black and white shot of London.
I’m not saying these shots are bad, or even poor – they are just done to death. Once you stop imitating it’s easier to find your own vision. The critical feedback that can come your way in a workshop or seminar, the resulting introspection, and the worry that follows, are all important.
6. Learning about the past. All photographers should at least be aware of who has preceeded them. Comments such as “I’ve never heard of Cartier Bresson”, or worse…. “Ansel who”? are a travesty.
7. Stopping imitating – Once you have copied other people’s work, (that you have been inspired by) you should start creating your own.
8. That photo workshop has been really useful to you, so now you can go off and create something new and fresh.
After all, and don’t forget this, everyone else at that workshop took the same images you did.