photography workshops – are they worth the money?

This is a question that you’ll have to weigh up if you’re considering investing in a photography workshop so here’s a few things to think about.

Many years ago I frequented an online Leica Photography forum. Leica cameras were and are notoriously expensive and the lenses even more so. A typical kit of camera and 3 lenses covering the basic focal lengths will set you back £10-15k and even on the used market you’ll be right up there.
One of the members of that forum would each week post images for critique. He was one of the members who’d spent nearer £20k on his photography equipment and loved to announce his new purchases to the forum. Unfortunately, he hadn’t a clue how to use his newly acquired equipment and each time he posted an image for critique the forum erupted with a barrage of abuse. His images generally consisted of out of focus shots of his cat in the kitchen and if I’m honest they used to make me giggle. I never quite fathomed whether this was somebody trolling the forum members or whether he literally had no idea how to use his camera. His popularity wasn’t helped when he one day announced he was to publish a book!

Anyways, I digress but you see my point. No matter how much you spend on equipment, if you can’t use it with any degree of competence then you’ve really wasted your money. Even a cheap £150 used lens is of no use if you can’t get the images from it you desire.
To this day I still get professional photographers asking me for help with some of the most fundamental and basic aspects of photography. Whilst they’re at least attempting to address the problem now, I can’t help but look at their huge array of lenses and conclude they’d surely have been far wiser skipping one of those lenses and investing that money into a course or workshop instead.

If you’re going to sell your images their value lie in their quality. What people are effectively paying for is your skill, knowledge and experience, all wrapped up in a beautiful image that clearly demonstrates those attributes. They won’t care whether that image was shot using a Leica M9 or a box Brownie camera and in all honesty, a photographer with skill and experience will probably be able to produce the better image with the Brownie in his hands than the person without knowledge and the Leica M9 in their little mitts.

We generally don’t buy a car without first training and obtaining the prerequisite license and ability to drive it, so why would we spend a similar amount on a state of the art camera kit without first learning how to use that? Whether you’re a rank beginner, keen enthusiast or new professional, when you pick up your camera you want to fundamentally understand what you’re doing and hopefully get better and better as your experience and knowledge progresses. And there’s the key for me: you’ll get better and better as your knowledge and experience progresses, not as your camera kit grows and grows!

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