**Update** after all of the awesome feedback (both here and in private messages) assuring me I am not alone in my thinking–we have decided to start an online group for reviews. Just a simple facebook site and we can see where it goes from there. Join us over here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/plainjane/ Cheers to finding awesome educational opportunities!
As I unpack my bags after yet another disappointing misadventure in photography, I can’t help but feel like I need to shout from the roof tops “For the love of all things pixel-related—please STOP taking advantage of other photographers with your half-baked, ill-thought out and self-promotion-filled workshops!” Let me back up—I have been to around 10 workshops in the past 4 years (as well as and a few of the major teaching conferences and purchased quite a bit of online training –Creative Live etc) and have in fact learned a decent amount from the likes of folks like Cliff Mautner, Susan Stripling, and Sue Bryce …
However, sadly, the vast majority have been completely underwhelming and a few—just plain insulting. (Note: let me go on the record and state I only consider myself an ‘intermediate technical photographer.’ I have TONS to learn…and I am extremely eager to learn….so it is not my supreme photographic mastery getting in the way of my learning.)
All that said: I thought I would offer a few tips from ‘your average workshop attendee’: (listen up-yo!)
1.) As Jessie J. would say…’Its not about the money, money, money!’ If your heart and soul are not into teaching—do us all a favor and just say no. If the idea of ‘just making a few extra bucks’ springs to mind…move on. Workshops are about the attendees learning something—not just fattening your wallet. (Though, make no mistake, I believe GOOD educators should be compensated accordingly.)
2.) Deliver what you advertised you would: if you say ‘lighting intensive’—make sure we are walking away knowing how to use light. Workflow instruction? We expect to walk away with an improved workflow. Workshops should not be ‘buyer beware’—this is your name. Make good on your website’s promotional promises. #nosnakeoilplease
3.) Save the ‘dog and pony”: We already respect you/your work. (or we wouldn’t have signed up!) Therefore, we do not need an 4-hour presentation on ‘your story’ complete with resume and ‘look at how amazing this shot is’ review of your portfolio. We’ve probably followed you for quite some time and we were already impressed; we are here to learn. Not be ‘sold’ on why we should be star struck.
4.) This is not your paid chance at a styled shoot- my demon horns (compete with fire breathing) emerged at a recent workshop billed as ending with a fully styled shoot where the instructors would ‘ensure you walk away knowing how to get it right in camera.’ Instead—I spent a great portion of my time with instructor-Heisman-hand-to-my-face/pushing me out of the way of “getting his shot.” (Note: I have heard the excuse of ‘needing to get the images for the participating vendors.’ I have an idea-shoot them after we leave, hire an assistant to shoot them or select the best images from the attendees. Or better still: actually pay the models/floral designer etc—I mean, we did pay you collective thousands…you can afford a model casting and some flowers.
5.) Take that book and shove it! – So you charged me over a thousand dollars for your workshop and I see you bring a stack of your books. Awesome! …And then you announce they are $50. Really? Just include the freaking book vs. trying to squeeze us out of an additional few Benjamin’s. (Same goes for your DVD’s, fancy re-branded flashes etc. If we want them.. We will find them at a later date. (Especially if we now value your opinion after an awesome workshop)
6.) Give a Rats arse about us—if your workshop is small enough, spend an hour or so. Look at our website, see where we are in our careers –get a general sense of you are teaching newbs or more advanced photographers and cater your teachings to that specific class.
**Bonus points: If you are actually a good teacher! (Being a good photographer in no way implies you are a good teacher anymore than me being amazing at eating French pastries implies I can bake them.) Let me say it again–great photographer does not equal great teacher. Know the different BEFORE firing up PowerPoint…especially before charging hefty fees.
Please look at this from our perspective—though your workshop may ‘only’ be $1000. Once you add in flight, rental cars, gasoline, meals etc (not to mention the days out of our studio which =$$) An average workshops is in the thousands of dollars. (and can escalate to 5K+ for the ‘big ones.’) For many of us—this equates to one workshop per year. (if we are lucky)
If a fellow photographer has chosen you (out of the maaaaaany others) giving workshops out there—should you at a minim care to make certain they receive the benefit of some actual education?
Your Average Workshop Attendee
**Steps off of soapbox (insert mic drop)
This is how I feel after spending good $ on a shi@@y workshop:
PS: Workshop attendees. How would you feel about a website like wedding wire/yelp etc) that allowed attendees to post reviews on specific courses? I was speaking with a prominent photographer whom I respect and he mentioned someone once tried to start this and it lost momentum. Thoughts? Would you want to able to look at reviews that are the ‘bright shiny’ ones posted on the instructors website prior to attending? (personally–I think educators should be held accountable. Amazing teachers should be praised and the others…well, should stop receiving thousands of our hard earned dollars for putting out garbage workshops based on having a ‘big name..)