Photo Course, Workshop, Photo Tours, Photo Expeditions, Photo Safaris
So before I start let me say I think EVERYONE should take a Photo Course, Tour, Expedition or Safari from me – because I am such a nice guy. But what if you want to go someplace that I do not go and you want to hire someone to help with your photography, what should you look for?
First what is the difference in the above terms (unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule for what the terms mean) but here is what I generally find:
Photo Course – Based more on classroom learning than taking pictures
Workshop – Classroom and practical hand on photography
Photo Tours – This can be just a trip that they take you to the best spots in the area you are going to but they offer no or limited teaching.
Photo Expeditions / Safaris – Usually to more exotic / out of the way / closed or restricted areas – more shooting than teaching
Like I said this is a general breakdown of the terms. But you really need to do your research first to make sure that you are getting what you want. I had a client take a couple photo courses from me before he headed for a safari. He was hoping on the safari he would pick up some more tips as well as getting to the areas that the animals were at. He loved the safari and got to many amazing places. But got zero help with taking pictures, he was more than happy he had taken the courses before he left.
I had another client that went to a workshop in the US. They thought it was going to be classroom teaching and some field trips but it ended up being classroom teaching. Then a lot of time on their own finding places to shoot and figuring out what to set their cameras at. Another person went on a photo tour. It was a bus trip to a number of amazing spots and they had three teachers with them. Unfortunately the teachers were there to take pictures as well and not help the students. When they did help the students it was like the students were being talked down to.
So if you want to take a class / workshop, etc what should you do?
1 – Ask what it is all about? Sure the brochure may say things but clarify it ahead of time. “So I am traveling 1000 miles to take this class, do you take us on location to shoot”?, “Do the teachers help us when we are shooting”?, “If I have a question when shooting will someone help me”? Just a few questions may help you to know what is up.
2 – Check into the teachers. See if they are qualified in the area they are teaching. See if they will be there or if it is by video or live feed, look at their work. I see so many times courses being advertised with this or that teacher. I know for a fact that they do not take pictures of what they are teaching. One class was an outdoor class and the guy teaching was a studio photographer.
3 – Check times!!! The golden hours for shooting is generally an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. Now there are many reasons that the shooting will be at other times and that is fine but if you are going for the pictures you want to be shooting at the golden hours and not traveling, eating or in the classroom. If the class is in Calgary and it is about waterfall photography then anytime is fine, if the safari is in Africa to photograph lions being out from noon to 2 in the afternoon is not what you want to do.
4 – Check into what the teacher is going to do in the class. Is the teacher there to teach you about your camera and photography? Does she / he only show you a slide show of their trip to China? Is the teacher reading a set lesson word for word or is he / she willing to cover different subjects?
5 – If possible talk to the teacher (I know that many times this is hard or impossible to do). Why? So you can hear how they talk / explain / teach. If the person is into all the technical details “This lens is 1/10000th of a degree off of frontal focus as opposed to this lens that is only 1/100th off” that is fine if you are looking for that. Or maybe the teacher is into more general terms “You take that thing and adjust the what is called to 400 and then adjust the other thing to F or G 5.6 or close to it”.
6 – Check what is paid for in the course and what is not. I know a number of courses that cost in the thousands of dollars. The only thing included is the course. The workbook is $50, meals are extra, travel is extra, workshops are extra, hotels are extra, etc. It is not a bad thing but you want to know ahead of time. Likewise see if you need to register for classes or field trips. Some places have 100 students but each class is only for 15 or 20. Or a location workshop is for a maximum of 30. So you need to register either on-line or when you get there. Make sure you do or you may be shooting the garbage can in the parking lot.
Only by doing your homework before hand will you get the experience that you want! If you do have questions you can ask me. I can tell you what I think and give you feedback before you spend your money.