Education is everything. Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer, geologist, or just about any other profession out there, continued education is key to growth in your career and success. As a photography, we should be investing in our own education in order to improve our business, client experience, and creative growth.
Personally, I looked at photography workshops and conferences as an aid for me to apply this knowledge from other photographer’s growing aches and pains, so that I could get a jump start in my business as I was still working a full-time 9-5 job. Every year I continuously make a promise to myself and my business, that I will attend a workshop or purchase online education in order to apply this new knowledge and newfound? experience into my photography business.
Online courses are a great way to start when it comes to building your business. The first purchase I ever made for my photography business (besides a camera) was an online course that walked me through posing, dealing with clients before and after the shoot, camera settings, and editing. Looking back now, the course I took was SO informative. I learned how to use my camera in completely manual mode. For the longest time I thought that I was using my camera in full manual mode, but I was nowhere close to that. What does being fully manual mean? This means that if your display screen were to break during a wedding (or anything you’re getting paid for), you can solely rely on your top camera meter/settings without needing to see photo previews to know that you got the perfect shot. In terms of techniques, settings and editing style, the first online course I ever took was purely a starting point for me and by no means was this my end all be all. To be completely honest, the first online course I ever took is worlds apart from my current editing and photography style, but I don’t in the slightest bit regret this purchase. Online courses were my starting point and got me to where I am today. This type of education is great for year-round learning, especially for those who are still working a full-time job and want to learn and practice at their own pace. To this day, I still purchase online courses annually. Usually more specific ones that are catered to posing, editing, etc. India Earl and Adventure Instead Academy are great resources for this. The first online course I took was from Amy and Jordan, in which I owe so much to!
I can definitely say that workshops are my absolute favorite form of education. Not only are you getting face-to-face information/advice from your favorite photographers in the industry, but you’re also getting to create magic with your peers during styled shoots. Workshops are generally set up to have a classroom setting, styled shoots, editing sessions, and one-on-one time with the mentors/educators. BONUS: I guarantee you that you will meet some of your favorite people in the industry and potentially lifelong friends at these workshops! I’ve experienced this first hand year after of attending new workshops. This is where community is created. When you’re meeting like-minded photographers from different corners of the states, and even globe, to support one another beyond the workshop as all of our businesses begin to thrive with this new knowledge and updated portfolios.
The workshops that I have attended have catered to different needs in my business and I use pieces from each of these to this day as I continuously grow and apply myself. Personally, my ultimate goal is to specialize in elopement and intimate wedding photography, thus I have mainly attended workshops with this type of education in mind. Although ALL of the workshops I’ve attended go beyond the style and type of wedding photography you’re interest in. All workshops are pretty time intensive in that we talk about our purpose (our why), money and taxes, client communication, editing, posing, etc. from sunrise to sunset. EVERY SINGLE WORKSHOP you attend should be educating you on more than one subject. And trust me. IT’S SO WORTH IT!
My workshop attendance thus far:
Studio Lighting Workshop taught by Eden Strader in Salt Lake City, Utah (1 day)
The 2019 Photo Rehab was lead by Cedar & Pines, Haley Nord, Robert J. Hill, Heather Nan, Raquel Acevedo, Heather Hall, and Chadwick Braithwaite. P.S. I’ve already signed up to attend Photo Rehab in 2020 because it was just that good.
Behind the scenes from the Photo Rehab workshop in Puerto Rico:
Note: You can email me personally about these particular workshops that I’ve taken, although please know that I genuinely have NOTHING bad to say about any of them. They were all exceptional workshops, teachers/mentors, styled shoots, one-on-one time with my absolute IDOLS in the photography industry. I cannot speak highly enough about these workshops that I’ve listed above. All I can say is GO!! Go to your favorite photographer’s workshops that are offering education in the near future. I am so grateful to have met and learned from every single one of these educators listed above.
The first time I ever stepped foot in a classroom with other photographers was at the WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photography International) Convention and Expo that’s held in Las Vegas every year. Not only are their endless classes to sign up for throughout the week, there is also every photography related vendor imaginable at the expo (from cameras to print services to maternity session clothes… just about anything you can think of- that company was there). The list of teachers varies every year, but they are all highly respected and successful photographers nonetheless. What to expect at a convention? Here was my experience:
Day 1: I took a daylong session about the in’s and out’s of a wedding day (having never shot a wedding on my own before), I then went to a happy hour for wedding photographers.
Day 2: Multi mini sessions (less than 2 hours each) with renowned photographers, such as Jose Villa (yes, the guy who shot Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra’s wedding in India AND Justin Bieber and Haley Baldwin’s wedding). Who would have known that I took an intimate class with such an exceptional fine art wedding photographer who just so happened to capture the weddings of my guilty pleasure celebrity crushes. In the afternoon, I perused through the expo, not knowing much about the vendors, yet getting discount codes and deals for just about anything and everything! Some of the vendors held sessions with WPPI educators on how they use their services (i.e. Jose Villa spoke for Richard’s film lab, multiple photographers showcased their work at the Nikon and Canon booths, Mastin Labs taught on how they match their Lightroom presets to Portra and Fuji film, etc.). That night I had dinner with 3 other photographers that I had classes with throughout the conference, friends that I follow to this day.
Day 3: I took part in a fun run for WPPI in the morning, attended a half-day session on bridal getting ready photos and off camera lighting, and lastly ventured out into the desert on the Nevada-Arizona desert for a styled shoot that I had heard about through friends of friends. The styled shoot was sponsored by Free People and had the gorgeous Miss Rizzo as one of our models. The night ended with a penthouse cocktail hour with the creators of Honeybook and the founder of Rising Tide, Natalie Frank. I am seriously in awe as I type out this blog post. How did I have such an amazing opportunity to meet these big names in the wedding industry?!?! I put myself out there. No, I did not spend a fortune. I did all of these trips on a budget, and learned from the best of the best from my point of view. So ask yourself, what are you waiting for!?!?? Get EDUCATED!! Expand your horizons, leave behind your fears, and just expect to learn from the best. You deserve this, so TREAT YO SELF!
Even if you’re not willing to spend the money right away, there are so many options out there with free courses! Photographers all over the world are writing blog posts, creating Instagram stories geared toward learning, podcasts or simply monthly newsletters in order to share their wealth of knowledge. Why would they make this content free?! BECAUSE! We are in a world where we need to realize that there is plenty of clients to go around. Not every client fits in with my photography style and objectives, but they will 100% fit someone else’s! Keep reminding yourself that we are a community, not competition. I owe this mind frame to the Rising Tide and Natalie Frank who started it all. If you are looking to join a local community of photographers and fellow creatives, click on the link to see if there is a Tuesday’s Together local chapter near you that gets together every month to meet & greet, educate, and grow together.
Not only do I view these experiences as a means to build my business, but I also view this as a way to support fellow artists. From my experience, the knowledge that they are sharing is WORTH EVERY PENNY. Please note that not all workshops are created equally, and you should definitely do your research if the workshop has been put on in previous years, reviews, price vs. length of the workshop, etc. If you have any questions feel free to reach out. I’m more than happy to give you my honest opinion.