Photography Workshop Likes & Dislikes … Can you help?

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: September 22, 2010

Category: General

There comes a time when you’ve just about crossed every ‘T’ and dotted every ‘i’ and there’s only so long you can delay the inevitable and that’s pretty much where I am are when it comes to the official launch of our Photography Workshops; now, I say ‘pretty much’ because that’s where I’m hoping you’ll come in…

Now I’m happy with the aims and objectives of the one day workshop with regards to what we’ll be covering but before the workshop goes ‘live’ I wondered if you’d be able to help me out; let me explain…

Over the past 3 and a bit years I’ve attended numerous workshops in the quest to keep in the ‘learning zone’; some really good, some really bad and some well, that were ok-ish. I’ve been lucky enough to attend workshops in the US with the likes of Joe McNally, Zack Arias and David Ziser…all of whom as you would expect were awesome but I’ve also attended workshops in the UK that left me nothing but lighter in the wallet.

Now of course I’m not so naive as to think there is such a thing as the ‘Perfect Workshop’; each will have their good and bad points but if I could ask you to think for a moment about the workshops you’ve attended, what would you answer to the following questions…

What were the good things about workshops you’ve attended? What were the bad things about workshops you’ve attended? Any bad experiences? Anything you would like to have seen / had? Did you get enough ‘shooting’ time? and so on…

I’d really appreciate any feedback / thoughts so as always please feel free to make use of the comments section below or shout me out on Facebook or Twitter.

Cheers 🙂

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26 Comments

  1. John Shim

    The hardest/most difficult thing about attending a workshop is the varying level of skill of the attendees. If you hold a really technical workshop (like a lighting workshop), the people that have a good grasp of the fundamentals will tend to get bored while you have to explain these things to people who don’t completely understand how flash/ambient exposure all work together.

    Not sure how you’d remedy this… but thought I’d share my frustration with these type of workshops.

    Bring one to the US, okay? 🙂

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @John…Looking at the other comments that have come in I guess a way around this is to do what Joe McNally does for his courses; ie you have to submit 20 images to him for approval that you have a certain level of competency before attending.

      Cheers for your comment John; I really appreciate it mate.
      Glyn

      Reply
  2. Nick Gamma

    What I’d like to have is a comprehensive take home “manual” of what was taught. It doesn’t have to be huge book but something that covers the major topics. Workshops can move quickly and sometimes and it’s hard to remember everything. It’s easier to go home and put what was taught into practice if you’ve got something to follow. Also it doesn’t neccesarily need to be printed. It could be a PDF or posts on a site that are only available to attendees.

    Hope this helps!

    Cheers,
    Nick

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Nick…Thanks for that mate. A workbook is something I was going to do but hearing that you think pdf version would be good is definitely food for thought.

      Definitely helps so thanks for that 🙂

      Reply
  3. rahul shah

    i agree with john, i personally am bored of being with people that are novices, and hearing the same thing about off camera flash products etc…and what a soft box does..blah blah… i’d rather see some different levels on the courses…that people should be able to attend…!

    and also too show more post-production techniques too, most courses i’ve been on they mention it briefly and thats it….however it is a fundamental part of todays photography.

    hope that helps…if anything i got to rant! lol.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Rahul…Thanks for adding to this.
      I totally get what you mean about hearing stuff you already know, so I think clear description of who it’s intended for is a must.

      Interesting too about the post production and yeah again I totally agree with you. My intention is to split the day virtually half and half (shooting/editing).

      Thanks again,
      Glyn

      Reply
  4. Rick Wenner

    I’d definitely agree with what both Nick and John say. If you are aiming your workshop to a more advanced level of photographer (knowledge of lighting, exposure, etc.), then I would promote the workshop that way. “This is an advanced level workshop for photographers with knowledge of lighting, etc.” A manual to walk away with is a great thing to have as well. As Nick said, doesn’t have to be printed, but something to refer to down the line. I would also recommend keeping the class size down in numbers of attendees so that everyone gets the proper amount of attention needed.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Rick…Thanks Buddy and yeah I’m totally agreeable with Nick and John re who it’s aimed at and the handbook.

      class size I intend to keep to 6; manageable for me and also enough people so that everyone gets plenty of time to shoot etc…

      Cheers Buddy 🙂

      Reply
  5. Steve Porter

    Hi Glyn, hope all is well with you.
    Sounds like you are ready to roll which is great news. Having experienced a taster of your teaching skills i would say you have nothing to worry about. In Windsor you had varying skill levels attending and you kept the pace steady so no one was bored or struggling to keep up.
    I do agree with what Rick says though you need to make sure you clarify what you are teaching on the day and have the confidence to turn people away if you think they are going to affect the pace of the tutorial.
    Be precise about what you want to teach, don’t over complicate it, look at ZA his one light workshop is successful for that one reason.
    The most important thing to remember above all else is free fresh COFFEE.
    All the best.
    Steve

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Steve….Thanks for the kind words mate; really good of you to say.
      Message received and understood re being precise about what’s being taught; my idea is to work on 3-4 different looks and the delegates will know that before attending. This way I think will helps them to know exactly what they’ll come away with as well as what the aim of the day is.

      Cheers, Glyn

      ps> A BIG ‘Yes’ re the coffee and plenty of it 🙂

      Reply
  6. Glenn Watson

    A well defined timetabled structure is key to setting the scene and expectations for a successful days training

    I like to see name badges for participants laid out so that we can remember who each other is, and sometimes connect when we may have chatted online (maybe provide a space where each person can write their internet name)

    Shooting time with enough equipment for everyone is critical.
    If you’re teaching a lighting class then have triggers for all participants (if the budget allows)

    A computer for live downloads and feedback on the screen would be great too. There’s only so much detail you can see on the back of your camera

    Written materials to take away – or an online section of your site for participants to log onto and download at their leisure (environmentally friendly option + it gets them coming back to your site)

    Follow-up courses at discounted rates (eg book another course in the next 3 months and save 15%) or a refer a friend offer too

    Hope this offers some food for thought

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Glenn…Thanks for posting a comment for this.
      I really like the idea of the name badges and the idea of the ‘internet’ name; as well as a workshop this is a networking opportunity too when all is said and done so thanks for that.

      Thanks too for the other suggestions; I’ll definitely be looking more into them.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  7. Neil Holmes

    Hi Glyn, an interesting question you pose, I’ve attended quite a few workshops / seminars over the years, even some run by Kodak’s pro division at Hemel Hempstead many moons ago, seem to think I saw Monte Zuckerman there who was excellent. The key for me personally is that if I come away with some small morsel that makes me look at thinks perhaps in a different way, or pick up a technique that makes a difference then the workshop has fulfilled its purpose.

    You’ll probably as the saying goes ‘never please everybody all of the time’ but if you give the attendee’s something good to take away you won’t go far wrong.

    If you can tweek the American model to our English / European tastes that will help you too, but above all people will come along because its ‘Glyn Dewis Photographer’ so just be yourself!

    Hope this helps Glyn, cheers Neil

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Neil…Spot on mate; thanks for that…definitely helps 🙂

      Reply
  8. David Kelly

    Hi Glyn,
    A few things for my wishlist so to speak:

    1. Comprehensive workshop reference notes should be made available to attendees. These may not be actively referred to during the workshop (i.e. the tutor doesn’t blindly go through death by PowerPoint) but I’d like to be able to go back to a manual that will walkthrough the process again and again and again, until I don’t need to refer to my notes. (The recipe card suggestion I’ve mentioned to you before would really help me here!) I don’t want to be wishing “if only I had written down that point the tutor mentioned about …” when I’m trying to put something into practice 2 weeks after the event.
    Additionally notes should include useful reference material too e.g. a lighting workshop should have example lighting diagrams of different set-ups (with example images)

    Like Nik says this can be a pdf or similar rather than a paper tome. From your point of view this enables production costs to be kept lower but from my perspective it’s a portability / resolution benefit. I can put a pdf on my iPhone for easy reference and any images contained in the pdf will be in able to be shown in colour & at a good resolution.
    (I do find it poor than some courses I’ve been to just give b/w photocopies as course material)

    2. Clear understanding of the content of the course (objectives / outcomes etc) prior to event. This will allow me to know exactly what I’m going to get out of it as an attendee and exactly what level of expertise it’s aimed at and consequently whether the course is right for me or not.

    3. Keeping the group numbers small. For practical workshops I’ve had experiences where shooting time is impaired because the group is too large or where you get equipment / model hoggers. I think small is better here because
    i) it’s likely to give people more time to try out the practical aspects
    ii) it’s easier to manage
    iii) a small group will find it easier to gel together
    iv) it’s easier for the tutor to manage and more likely gives more time to be attentive!

    4. A Hands-on, interactive & enthusiastic tutor is always good. For those moments where I don’t pick up things quickly or want some support working through a ‘brain fade’ issue, it would be nice to have a tutor who will take the time help me make it ‘click’!

    Now, just set the dates and I’ll be there 😉

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @David…Nice one mate; definitely echoes what others are saying so thanks for that.

      Glyn

      ps> Looking forward to having you come along 🙂

      Reply
  9. Neil Turner

    Make sure that nobody slows the day down by having to have some really basic concepts constantly explained. I did one in July where one participant didn’t know what an f-stop was and I was acutely conscious that she was getting on the nerves of the others with her basic lack of knowledge.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Neil Turner…Mate, been there so I feel your pain…lol
      Yeah definitely need to be sure that whoever attends has a certain level of understanding so that no time is ‘wasted’.

      Thanks for commenting; I really appreciate it 🙂

      Reply
  10. Neal

    I would like lots of fresh cream cakes 🙂

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Neal H…’A minute on the lips….’ … need I say more 🙂

      Reply
  11. Keith Hammond

    Having been on your tester Glyn, i think you have got it dialed in mate, the way you came across was how i would like it to be if i were attending a workshop, just the right amount of tech talk so as not to get bogged down in it. Seeing a practial demonstration is so much better than just being told what you need to do.
    I echo all of the above, some great tips……..except Neal’s no cream cakes, what is he thinking.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Keith…Thanks for that mate. It’s encouraging to hear what you say about the amount of ‘tech talk’ cos that’s exactly what I want it to be like…ie not getting bogged down in the technical jargon. Sure there has to be an element of that but I certainly don’t want the workshop to contain too much of it, so thanks for confirming my thoughts on that 🙂

      Re Neal and the cream cakes…what can I say…lol 🙂

      Cheers

      Reply
  12. A.J. Wood

    Glyn – Looking through the comments, I have no doubts your workshop will be the talk of the town. While I haven’t had the privilege of being a tester, I know just from the little bit you’ve talked about online that you’ve REALLY put your course through its paces.

    You’re gonna be great.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      A.J…Thanks alot for that mate; real good of you.
      Cheers,
      Glyn 🙂

      Reply
  13. DaveT

    Glyn,

    I’m a bit late to the party as I have been away for a few weeks.

    A lot has already been said. What I would add is that I think it is important that the trainer(you) remains flexible to deal with different peoples learning styles. For example, some individuals will appreciate tech talk etc and others not. Either way it’s important to the attendee that they feel they have got value for money, and have come away with a positive impression of the course.

    This is critical for your business model as the best publicity (as I am sure you already know) is by word of mouth and repeat custom.

    I also think it is important that trainer doesn’t put themsleves first at the expense of the client. I attended a workshop where the trainer did just that and it was evident that he was building his portfolio on the back of the money laid out by the attendees. Conversley, I have been at a workshop where the photographer put the clients first and went out of his way to ensure the atendees got the most out of the workshop.

    I’ve never met you, but from what I have seen from your blog, I’m fairly sure that you will fall into the latter category.

    Hope this helps
    Dave

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @DaveT…Thanks for the detailed comment and yeah I guess we all have our ‘horror’ stories from Workshop’s we’ve attended in the past. Re my own workshop, my aim is to approach it the same way as Zack; keep going until everyone has grasped what has been covered and then some 🙂

      Cheers

      Reply

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